Deep Rock Galactic Review: One Of The Greatest Co-op Games Of This Generation
For a more in depth version of this Deep Rock Galactic Review, watch the video version here:
Deep Rock Galactic was originally released in early access at the beginning of 2018, marketed as a cooperative first-person-shooter along with these three words: Danger. Darkness. Dwarves.
Fast forward 2 years and version 1.0 was released after a whopping 30 updates. The result of all these updates has created a game which is not only one of the most rewarding games I’ve ever played, but one that still surprised me after my first 20 hours. In my humble opinion, Deep Rock Galactic is one of the best co-op games released this generation. That sounds like a bold statement, so over the course of this Deep Rock Galactic review, let me explain why.
Deep Rock Galactic Review
- Developer: Ghost Ship Games
- Publisher: Coffee Stain Publishing
- Available: PC (Windows/Steam), Xbox One
- Played On: Xbox One
Solid Core Gameplay Loop
The core gameplay loop of Deep Rock Galactic is simple. You’re a dwarven miner tasked to explore the depths of an alien planet to clear out infestations, recover lost mining equipment and mine rare minerals. Everything you mine is used to upgrade your gear and unlock cosmetics. It’s not a looter per se, but there are strong progression mechanics to make every mission worthwhile.
At the end of every mission you dash towards an escape pod to return to Deep Rock Galactic HQ. If you’re not on board within a certain time, the mission fails and everything you’ve mined is left on the planet. It is extremely intense as the timer gradually counts down and the prospect of losing all your hard work becomes a reality. The premise alone created many memorable moments throuhgout my time with the game.
Along with nail bitingly tense moments, Deep Rock Galactic creates great suspense. Exploring claustrophobic tunnels in the dark is already anxiety inducing, but Ghost Ship Games go one step further here. They constantly make you feel paranoid due to the outstanding sound design of every enemy. Their alien clicks and screeches were terrifying, especially hearing them rapidly scutter behind you.
However, the enemy design isn’t as terrifying as the sounds they make. Their distance screeches sound like a Ridley Scott Alien Necromorph, but they look more like cartoon bugs which can be easily squashed. After this point, when the illusion is broken, the feeling of tension is never the same again.
Same Gameplay, Different Variety
Rather than completely overhaul gameplay for every mission, Ghost Ship have added slight variations each time. For example there are different mission types, diffferent biomes and a range of anomalies which can randomly spawn on a map.
Most mission types are great, especially the Egg Hunts as you venture underground to steal alien eggs. Each time you take one, the Alien Mother howls in the distance, again creating great suspense. Other mission types involve securing lost equipment, ending in a King of the Hill style standoff, taking down Dreadnought bosses or simply mining rare minerals. There’s enough variety in the missions to make gameplay constantly entertaining.
While the missions alter gameplay, the biomes alter the environment, ranging from a glacier to a magma cavern. On these maps there are environmental hazards, like tremors that cause the roof to cave in or a chilling blizzard which freezes you over time. If you want to avoid being frozen solid, you can take a quick dip in a thermal spring to warm up. It was a nice absurd touch as my team dashed towards the spring following a harsh snow storm.
But if varied missions and environments weren’t enough, the anomaly mechanic adds even more depth. Anomalies are like the Skulls from Halo, with certain missions having one negative and one positive variant. For example, a negative anomaly places an invincible enemy on the map, like Mr. X from the Resident Evil 2 remake. And positive anomalies can boost XP, create low gravity or even generate an atmosphere rich in helium. I genuinely laughed out loud when my Dwarf’s voice was squeaky due to the excess helium of the ave I was exploring. It was another absurd touch and I’m glad Deep Rock Galactic isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun.
The Four Dwarves of Deep Rock Galactic
There are four classes to play as which range from a high damage Gunner, to a support class Driller. My favourite class was the Scout though, mainly due to his grappling hook. This thing allows you to zip around caves like a Cirque du Soleil act, to escape an enemy swarm, or even flank an enemy for high damage. It’s takes a while to master, but it’s extremely satisfying when everything clicks.
It’s also clear that a large amount of care and attention was put towards how each of the classes work together. For example, the Engineer class creates platforms on cave walls. Not only does this create platforming sections, but it allows the Scout to grapple to the platform and mine an out of reach mineral vein. This is one example of many, and learning how each class works together was a joy.
“This feature is invaluable for those who struggle to communicate with strangers”
All of this happened without the need for voice chat, I might add, as Ghost Ship has included an Apex Legends ping system here. By using your pointer you can highlight objects, like mineral veins to create a waypoint on everyone’s screen. Your dwarf then shouts to the team alerting them of your discovery. It’s such a simply addition, but this feature is invaluable for those who struggle to communicate with strangers. I wish every game included this feature.
Along with the pointer, emotes are used to communicate online. If you click in the right thumbstick your Dwarf holds up his pickaxe and shouts “Rock and Stone”. (Or something related to his beard.) Everybody online uses this phrase for a variety of things ranging from hello to good job or simply to welcome a new dwarf to the team. I always felt a sense of camaraderie, highlighting just how friendly the community of Deep Rock Galactic is.
“One of the Most Rewarding Games I’ve Ever Played”
In Deep Rock Galactic it always feels like you’re one game away from a powerful upgrade, a new weapon skin or an amazing cosmetic item. You might be saving up for an upgrade by running missions containing the mineral you need. It might even be a long way off, but as you play, other items will naturally unlock around you. For example, some items have a chance to randomly spawn in missions, like a unique weapon skin or a customisable pickaxe part. It makes every moment you play rewarding, as smaller rewards are gained in between bigger ones. On top of this there’s also a chance that a level boss will spawn in a mission. These bosses are hard to kill, but the rewards were always worth the effort. Every time.
Quite simply, Deep Rock Galactic is a masterclass in how to reward players properly.
Deep Rock Galactic Review – Final Thoughts
Deep Rock Galactic has a unique and interesting premise as you explore procedurally generated caves to mine minerals. Along with the randomness of each map, the varied biomes, environmental hazards and anomaly mechanic keep gameplay constantly entertaining. My time with the game was always rewarded as items were given out liberally and always unlocked in-game. Admittedly, there are minor issues with the appearance of enemies as they were never as terrifying as suggested by the exceptional sound design.
In the end Deep Rock Galactic is one of the best games I’ve played this year, and one of the greatest co-op games released this generation. It is an outstanding achievement made by developers who continually put the player first. The goal of Ghost Ship Games is to take co-op to the next level and I’m happy to say, they have well and truly succeeded.
Thanks for reading my Deep Rock Galactic Review.