Deep Rock Galactic: Indieology

Drunk Dwarves mining for the man – in SPACE!

Grab your shotgun and your space pick, we’re going asteroid mining and as sure as the beard on your chin we’re going to be profitable while doing it. The Deeprock Mining Corporation spares no expense when it comes to increasing shareholder value by ensuring corporate efficiency – so be sure you hurry back to the pod after you’ve loaded the M.U.L.E. – if not, we can always find more dwarves.

Welcome to Deep Rock Galactic.

Game Overview

In Deeprock Galactic, the player takes the role of a blue-collar dwarf employed by a faceless corporation. You’re employed to do what dwarves do best, mine the crap outta asteroids (as well as performing menial tasks and mine maintenance). From your orbiting space rig, you’re able to select jobs and spend credits to upgrade your gear. The rig itself has a bit of personality and offers a pretty excellent lobby experience (more on that later). 

The jobs take the form of procedurally generated mining shafts and caverns that contain a variety of resources that need collecting. As the player (or players) jump into the caverns there are a variety of xenomorph-inspired, insectile swarms of enemies that provide a shoot-y challenge. The enemies come in either large groups (called swarms, because duh) or just randomly wandering around. The jobs can be set around mining a specific amount of a specific mineral, collecting alien eggs, or finding broken cart-robots, called M.U.L.E.s (and affectionately named “Dolly”).

“Yeah, I don’t so much “scout” as make this operation possible.”
– Scout

The player can select between four different dwarf classes, each specializing in a different set of skills. There’s the gunner – a no-nonsense wrecking crew with a mini-gun and zip line launcher, the engineer – a turret-building, shotgun-wielding nerd with a platform gun, the driller- a dwarf specializing in grinding through cavern walls and flame-throwing, and finally the scout – specializing in quick navigation, a flare launcher and wielding an assault rifle. With the variety of skills between the different classes, this game truly shines when played multiplayer with some friends. The co-op gameplay is great and if you’ve got three dwarf-curious friends – this game is for you.

The greater gameplay progression takes place through unlocking character upgrades and some pretty goofy aesthetic options. They all help add to the world, but don’t really drastically mix up the gameplay in any drastic ways. Some of the later items (new guns) provide a bit more options in gameplay but aren’t terribly different. Once the player reaches lvl 25 the endgame content unlocks, which ramps up the difficulty of missions significantly and provides a bit more challenge. Overall the gameplay kind of reminds me of Vermintide or Left 4 Dead, but with a sci-fi twist (and procedurally generated levels).

The Deep Rock Galactic Corporation Welcomes you to one of its 87 Space Rigs.
Floating adrift in a seemingly endless asteroid field, Space Rig 43 is home to four of the most ornery dwarves this side of the Milky Way – but those lads can mine ‘roids like nobody’s business. They’ve got every right to be ornery though, there isn’t much to do on those space rigs but kick barrels and sharpen your pick-ax. 

At least they’ve got beer…

The Space Rig

When the player first loads into the game the awaken in a small room with a bed and a wall-mounted screen displaying some player stats – usually their character will grumble a few lines of dialog as the player notices a door at the far end of their bunk. Walking through that door you enter one of the best in-game lobbies I’ve come across in recent years. Instead of treating the player to a stale user interface of spreadsheets and character icons, Deep Rock Galactic’s lobbies take the form of a space rig (think oil rig – but in space), floating in an asteroid field while orbiting some unknown alien world. 

The rig itself has the four conjoined bunks, a med-bay (for respawning dwarves that fall when the action gets too hot), a bar with bartending robot, a bunch of nooks and crannies in the form of air vents, a memorial room and a myriad of computers for accessing upgrades. There’s even a barrel-tossing game with a hoop of fire behind the bar – so players can spend their time going for achievements while waiting for their mates to join up. 

Of course, there is a need for some of the standard user interfaces and tech-trees you see in many games. These are showcased through various computer interfaces placed throughout the main hanger of the rig – allowing the players to purchase cosmetic upgrades or upgrades to their equipment and weaponry with the dosh they’ve earned from their missions. It’s within these computers the players will find the common tech-trees that provide that sense of progression that many players crave.

The reason we’re mentioning the space rig here is that it really provides a way for the game to build its world through time in-between missions. It makes the game world feel more grounded and helps the players get immersed in the world even before they ever pick up their pick-ax. From the operator shouting at you for kicking barrels into the launch bay, to the jukebox dance parties in the bar – the rig helps the world of Deeprock Galactic feel much more immersive than just another matchmaking menu interface.

“You boys better be better miners than you are dancers.”
– Mission Control

Mining Crew Gameplay

No one man can do it all – if you look at a modern-day construction site there is a huge variety of people doing a myriad of different tasks. The electrician does the electronics and the carpenter does the woodworking while the site manager naps in his trailer. In the “real-world,” one of the perks of living in a society is that individuals can specialize and work together to complete tasks more efficiently. Since this is typically the way the world works – it helps to add to the immersion and realism when video games emulate that.

While we’re not saying that every game needs to perfectly emulate the real-world (DOOM would be less fun if the Doom Slayer didn’t have an armory in his pants), but when you’re trying to create a blue-collar work simulator in a fantastical sci-fi location, it helps to emulate real-world blue-collar jobs and roles. The mining crew-style gameplay does just that – grounding the game in reality even when you’re mining asteroids in a far-flung part of the galaxy.

Did we mention that this game is a prime cut of co-op experiences? When played with three other friends, each selecting their own dwarf specialization the game becomes fantastic. While playing with your friends is always a good time (that’s why they’re your friends), the way the mining crew gameplay builds off of each dwarf in your squad quickly makes this game a favorite for a co-op run. When that is considered in conjunction with the relative bite-sized nature of the procedurally generated cavern missions – this becomes a go-to for quick and friendly co-op gaming sessions.

Does Deeprock Strike Gold?

If you’re hoping for a tranquil walk in the woods with some elves – this probably isn’t the game for you. Deeprock Galactic provides a tight first-person cooperative asteroid mining experience (with a cast of ornery dwarves), featuring intense shootouts with alien swarms. What really helps this game’s world stand out among its indie contemporaries is its focus on building realism through a fantastic in-game matchmaking lobby and excellent cooperative class-based gameplay. From a gameplay perspective, the closest analog we can think of would be Vermintide or Left 4 Dead, but from a worldbuilding or setting perspective its more closely aligned with stories featuring dystopian corporate cyberpunk themes. 

If you and some dwarf-loving compatriots are looking for an excellent way to enjoy some time space mining, Deeprock Galactic is the game for you. Buckle up and get ready to blast some bugs.

Swarm incoming! Get through it fast, we’re on a tight schedule here!

Game Title: Deep Rock Galactic
Game’s Website: https://www.deeprockgalactic.com/
Game’s Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_Rock_Galactic
Game Release Date: 05/13/2020

Developer: Ghost Ship Games
Developer’s Website: https://www.ghostship.dk/

Publisher:
Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher’s Website: https://www.coffeestainstudios.com/

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