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Preview: The Culling

In the age of worldwide alpha/beta testing and Early Access games, we are often promised so much from the finely polished trailer, a plethora of features, and yet in the majority of cases these prerelease games never deliver what we’re expecting, DayZ is a good example.

Developer: Xaviant
Publisher: Xaviant Games
Previewed on:  PC Windows
Release Date:  March 8th (Early Access)

Xaviant games, on the other hand, have been a little more reserved about what we can expect from their latest offering, The Culling. Yes, we were given a clean crisp trailer, but that didn’t advertise much in the way of features, instead leaving the door open for them to make new changes. Thanks to the recent alpha test, I had my first look at the game prior to its Early Access release next week.

Have you ever watched the movie and wished that there was a game like it without the drama? If so, then The Culling may be the perfect fit for you. This game is a smooth blend of key aspects from movies like The Hunger Games and The Running Man, and survival games such as H1Z1 and Rust. I will admit that when I first started playing this game I didn’t think that it would be able to hold my attention as it only offered two game modes and one game map, how wrong I was.

When you first start up the game and get through all of the loading screens, a user interface appears which offers you the option to customize your character, change your settings, and choose from one of three different game types; a normal free for all versus other players, a team battle mode, a match to play against computers.

Gore

The game also provides both a basic/advanced tutorial and I highly recommend playing through them as well. The controls themselves are fairly standard for most games of the genre, but the tutorials offer a quick refresher and also give you a taste of the humor that is to come from the game. I do have to say, there is definitely room for controller support in this game and I hope that they do introduce it as it would make the game more enjoyable for people less keyboard inclined.

There are several things that make The Culling work very well, especially when it comes to the choice of customization. While character customization may be a little limited at the moment, there is definitely a lot of potential here, with some gamers I saw receiving new fashion items at the end of each match. Aside from the actual character customization, there is a multitude of perks to select from which help make the character feel like your own. These are split into multiple categories and sections, from what kind of fighting style you want to use (blunt, ranged, or blades), to whether you want to be a character with speed or be able to take more damage. One interesting element is how the gameplay can be adapted to the choices you make, having speed, for example, the game also offers a unique feature where you can hit someone holding a ranged weapon, a bow for instance, and it will knock it out of their hands.

Speaking of weapons, the game features 24 differing melee weapons based on blades, blunt objects, spears, and axes. In addition to these, there are also bows and guns, always useful but at the same time watch out for other players knocking them out of your hand with a melee attack. As an additional bonus, everything in the game can be thrown, meaning you can turn anything into a ranged weapon if you’re pinned down with no ammo.

Arena

What’s impressive is how these thrown objects interact with the different terrain, take a road, for example, throw the spear at it and it will simply fall to the ground, in dirt, however, it will stick out of the ground, a simple but logical concept that is much appreciated. Another key aspect that the terrain provides is the sound of footsteps when walking/running which can easily give away your position to enemies turning the game even further into a game of hunt or be hunted.

Yes, you did read that last paragraph right, there are spears in this game as well as knives and numerous other weapons. But, how does someone get these weapons?

There are three very specific ways in which the player can obtain weapons, the most prominent being to craft them using a mixture of in-game resources and the in-game currency FUNC which allows you to also access healing station, open drops, call drops, make ammunition for items like the bow, and more. If you need a helping hand with crafting, then the good news is that the game also offers a full list of what’s needed to craft items within its pause screen.

But how do you get FUNC? Well, there are three main ways; kill players, recycle unused items and explore the map. You do get some overtime but not enough to anything practical.

When the game first starts there are two choices to make based on how you want to obtain weapons, craft them or rush to buildings and hope to find items within them. As the game progresses, though, you may find yourself facing a drastic lack of inventory space, finding a backpack is essential as it will increase this.

Of course, trying to find resources and avoid being slaughtered by other players just isn’t hard enough for this game and so at about the 10-minute mark toxic gas is released into certain parts of the map blocking off buildings and health stations. This pushes the player toward the Culling arena featured within the middle of the map in hopes that all out mayhem will ensue. I have yet to see it, but I do wonder what happens if at least two people are still alive at the end of 20 minutes.

Overall, The Culling was a very enjoyable experience and highly recommended to people who enjoy games like Chivalry, H1Z1, Rust, and others in the genre. The alpha test featured little to no bugs (I had no issues though I heard others had) and that was a welcome surprise to the early access market. As long as the developer continues updating, I expect this game to far surpass its counterparts which seem to have been in early access forever.

If you want to slaughter others in a smaller map size and have a good time feeling like a hunter on the greatest hunt of your life, then you should pick this game up when it comes out on March 8th.

Official Site

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Brandon Farris is studying Film and Media Studies at Uni. Always enjoying a good chat about video games and movies he looks forward to writing for TPoW.

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