If you’re like us, you probably didn’t have any sort of emotional reaction to the initial Darwin Project reveal trailer. With Battle Royale and survival games being an oversaturated market, the reveal trailer likely fell on deaf ears.
But after actually spending some time with the game in its latest beta over the weekend, I’m now hooked.
Seriously, I can’t stop thinking about Darwin Project.
For those who don’t know, Darwin Project is a unique take on the battle royale genre that adds not only survival game elements but also a game god (called a Show Director here). The Director has the ability to influence the game by slowly accruing points throughout the game and then spending those points to perform certain actions like closing specific quadrants, nuking a quadrant, healing a specific player, giving speed boosts, and more.
When you’re not the director, however, you’re up against 9 other players in a free for all set on a medium scale map. The environment is entirely snow-covered terrain, and it all looks great. It plays most similarly to The Culling, where you’re scrambling to make upgrades that will help you once you’ve encountered another player.
There’s absolutely a lot to love about this unique take on the genre. First, and most immediately noticeable, is its surprisingly friendly community. After you’ve played a few matches and have interacted with various other players, you’ll agree that the Darwin Project’s community is mostly filled with genuinely friendly players.
You know how when you’re in the lobby in PUBG and all you hear are vicious, childish attacks on other players? Well, so far at least, our experience with Darwin Project wasn’t anything like that. Thankfully.
Also worth noting is the fact that Darwin Project is already so well-optimized. Gameplay is buttery smooth and with no framerate drops, and that helps to make us enjoy it even more.
But the community and optimization are just the start of the positive experience I had playing DP. Simply put, I haven’t had as much fun playing a battle royale game in quite some time. There’s plenty of gathering and crafting to keep you busy in the earliest stages of each match, and you’re able to pick and choose what items to craft that are going to be most immediately beneficial to you.
On top of that, you can actually customize what potential upgrades you can craft before each match. Basically, you’re choosing your loadout based on your playstyle. The options aren’t as plentiful as they should be just yet, and there are only a few potential changes to make, but the fact that this is even an option is certainly promising. Hopefully, we’ll see even more weapon, armor, and other upgrades.
As far as other upgrades are concerned, there are what’s called Electronics that are dropped onto the map throughout each match. And these electronics allow a player to build a more powerful/useful upgrade that will give them an advantage over their opponents. For example, you can build a turret, a temporary shield, etc using one electronic.
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As you can imagine, this creates a scramble for all players to head towards the dropped electronic, which creates excitement and potential mayhem for anyone who goes near it (you can see me grabbing various electronics in the video above).
You can also find these super cool, futuristic-looking maps in certain log cabins out in the world that show you where you are in relation to other players. This lets you get your bearings and figure out your next move. Finding these are super helpful, so definitely keep a lookout while you’re playing.
Another big plus that Scavenger Studios has on their side here is the art style. It feels a lot like Fortnite, and as any Fortnite player will tell you, it enhances the sort of jovial nature of the game. This type of art style definitely lends itself to some funny gameplay moments, and there are tons of laugh-out-loud worthy moments to be had in Darwin Project.
One thing we definitely want to see in the future for this game is simply more — more weapons (right now you’re limited to just an axe and a handful of different types of arrows for your bow), more maps (right now, there’s only a single map), and more options for the show director. We’d also like to see the option for much bigger matches (I’d like to play me vs 49 other players and see how that goes).
Right now, character customization is in dire need of an update. In the beta, there were only a handful of options, and one of those wasn’t even the option to play as a female character (although, we know that option will be in there).
There’s also a lot more that can be done with the show director’s chair. I’d love to see the ability to control weather conditions in specific quadrants, a tag team director option, and other variances to keep being the director fresh every time you play. Hell, I’d love to also see the ability to customize your loadout as a director, with the ability to cherry pick your potential boosts and abilities. This would not only make the matches more interesting for the director, but it’d also provide some needed variety to players in each match.
What would benefit Darwin Project the most before its release is to get some of those potential additions added. More weapons and maps should be the top priority, and hopefully Scavenger Studios will provide us with some more details about their pre-launch plans. For now, I’m definitely looking forward to the game’s Early Access release on March 9th, and I hope you guys won’t just write it off like I initially did.
What We Love
+Choosing Your Own Potential Upgrades
+Electronics Being Randomly Dropped onto the Map
+Show Director Abilities
What We Hate
-Lack of Game Modes
-Only an Axe and a Bow
-Lack of Character Customization Options
See Also: 2018 Video Game Release Schedule