One of the best things about Xbox Game Pass will always be finding titles you had no idea about, or diving into genres that hold no appeal to you but somehow manage to resonate. Deep Rock Galactic has ticked both of those boxes for me, and I've been having an absolute blast discovering this hidden gem over the past few days. I've still got much to learn with its mechanics, but impressions so far have been mighty impressive for what was an impulse download.
For those that don't know, Deep Rock Galactic is a 1-4 player co-operative first person shooter that is half Minecraft, half Left 4 Dead. You take the role of one of four dwarves - each with their own particular skills - and embark on cave diving missions such as farming resources, connecting pipes, or wiping out the indigenous population that scurries within each procedurally generated level. It's an unusual concept and one I stumbled across by chance as I was tracking down some new Xbox titles to try out.
You see, the game is in fact an Xbox console exclusive (and also available on PC), but it's one that seems to have flown under the radar. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm just not in the right circles and the game is actually a lot more popular than I'm giving it credit for. But on the off chance there are people out there who haven't heard of it or aren't sure if it's for them (and I'm sure there are), I just want to briefly explain why Deep Rock Galactic is absolutely a game that no one should be sleeping on - especially when it's available as part of Xbox Game Pass.
First of all, it has one of the most addictive gameplay loops I've played in a while. In between missions you'll return to a central hub where you and some buddies can hang out, upgrade, or even engage in a few mini-games. It works wonderfully to break up the pace from the often stressful deep diving missions, and encourages that "one more run" mentality as you strive to afford the next upgrade for your gear. That and blasting some tunes on the jukebox and seeing the robot bartender boogie down with you hasn't ceased to grow old as of yet.
But the meat and bones of the game is in the actual missions, which so far have been surprisingly interesting. Initially it may seem as though each quest is just a mineral harvest, but me and my partner have since been tasked to do other objectives such as collecting alien eggs and connecting pipes to a central structure. It definitely adds to the variety and makes each mission feel fresh. Sure, some are better than others - we particularly enjoyed the pipe building one (although it gets stressful at the end when you have to engage in a lengthy wave defence mission), but we appreciated the constant change up in objectives.
I mentioned before how this game seems heavily inspired by two particular titles, but how they play into each other is wonderful. On the Minecraft front, you'll pickaxe your way through these dark caves, create lights, build structures, and use your resources to craft new upgrades for your equipment. Each dwarf class also has special abilities which can help to assist in the mining sections, such as a flare gun for more light or a power drill to quickly blast through hard rock. Slowly grappling with the systems in play and enhancing your character to carry more and harvest faster is super rewarding.
Looking at the action side of things we have the Left 4 Dead influences, which sees a variety of creepy spider like creatures attacking you and your party at a moment's notice. I will warn you, if you're an arachnophobe, these sections can be troublesome. I have a massive fear of spiders to the point where I've slept at a friend's house because there was one in my room, so playing these segments has been a bit tricky, especially with the Xbox Wireless Headset blasting their hissing down my eardrums. They come in different varieties, with acid spraying ones, to mindless drones, and the AI can randomly throw a horde on you at a moment's notice. You've been warned.
But the combat itself is so punchy and satisfying that it makes it all worth it. You have two weapons which range from flamethrowers to miniguns, each packing a devastating punch. Enemies ooze as your bullets punctuate them, and certain enemies have weak points for more damage, adding another level to the combat beyond simple spraying and praying. It can quickly turn a mission rogue as you drain your resources attempting to stay alive, adding some minor survival horror elements into the mix.
As I've said, It's still early days for me with Deep Rock Galactic, and I get the impression this is a game that demands a huge time sink. First impressions with the game after a few days are extremely impressive though, and I really hope the Xbox community is embracing this gem outside of my knowledge. For those of you like me who hadn't really looked into Deep Rock Galactic, this is an absolute treat so far and is quickly becoming one of my favourite multiplayer experiences on the Xbox Series X.
Have you played Deep Rock Galactic? What are your thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments below.