Deep Rock Galactic Review

Utterly consumed by this simple Dwarven co-op game, Minn Yap introduces Deep Rock Galactic and its core mechanics in this review and tells us why you should give it a go.

When Deep Rock Galactic was first announced at E3 (a trade event for the videogame industry) in 2017 with a reveal trailer running just over a minute, I brushed it off with the thought that this was not the kind of game I would enjoy playing.  

Fast forward to the time that I am writing this review, I have 59 hours logged and my flatmates are watching me continue to abandon writing my 5000-word essay due at the end of January in order to play more. I’m also not entirely pleased that writing this article is making me spend more time away from the game. 

Developed by Danish studio Ghost Ship Games and published by Coffee Stain Publishing, Deep Rock Galactic was initially released in 2018 in early access and fully released two years later in 2020. Today, the reviews are ‘overwhelmingly positive’ on Steam. The game has also taken home the titles Indie Game of the Year and Excellence in Multiplayer at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Gaming Awards ceremony just last year.

DRG_Screenshot_018_Press Kit

Deep Rock Galactic is a 1-4 player co-op first-person shooter game where you play as one of four classes of space Dwarves. The premise is that you are employed by a corrupt mining company to carry out their mining, maintenance, recovery, or elimination tasks while trying to fend off aliens determined to kill you. You have access to all four classes right from the start so most unfortunately there will be no getting a sense of pride and accomplishment from unlocking them.

It’s not every day you come across great design and balance in co-op games. The developers have done an excellent job here, with each class able to effectively contribute to the team with their unique kits and support and traversal tools. This makes all the classes extremely viable when playing both in a team and solo. The Engineer’s placeable platforms are useful for other

Teammates to climb on to traverse vertically, and even more so for the Scout to grapple-hook to mine minerals located high up in the caves. The Driller can easily clear swarming, small and hard-to-hit enemies with his flamethrower and the Gunner has the firepower to take out larger enemies swiftly or launch a zipline to traverse across chasms. These are just a fraction of their capabilities in a team setting.

And no worries if you like to play solo. The all-purpose drone, Bosco, will accompany you on solo missions and frankly, is a bit over-powered in my opinion. You can direct him to mine mineral deposits, collect larger resources and focus fire on enemies that you point him to. This makes missions like Egg Hunt ridiculously easy as you can waypoint him to nests from metres away and he will dig it out for you.

You won’t run out of things to do in the game with the progression system offered. There are numerous upgrades, perks and cosmetics to unlock for both weapons and the Dwarves. Reaching level 25 on any class allows you to promote it, unlocking new assignments, endgame content and a fancy new border around your portrait (similar to Overwatch when you level up to level 100). The completely free Season 01 battle-pass has also launched, allowing you to earn extra resources and obtain new cosmetics as you play the game. 

The player hub sports a detailed design but you may find that the cave designs and style are instead, lower-poly. While this might be a turn-off to some players who value graphics, I found the style to be reminiscent of the planets and their environments in No Man’s Sky. Deep Rock Galactic masks the lower-poly design with density in their caves – flora, fauna, verticality and complexity – allowing them to still retain their beauty and awe when stumbling into them. The caves being procedurally-generated also help in this aspect. 

Deep Rock Galactic uses a peer-to-peer network, meaning that there are no servers. This, of course, comes with some downsides which I’ve personally experienced. When the host suddenly decides to leave the game, there is no host migration for the rest of the team to continue playing. This means that your gameplay and all the resources you mined can easily vanish into nothing. A frustrating thing especially if you’ve spent about half an hour or more on a mission. 

But don’t let that discourage you from trying out this game because you have the option to host your own public game. If you do want to join a public one, the list of games to connect to shows the distance between you and the host player so you can pick the one that is closest to you.

Deep Rock Galactic succeeds in having players feel a sense of precious camaraderie with their team; working in sync to fight terrifying Dreadnoughts; running and dodging swarms of enemies to reach the escape pod that takes off in five minutes; saluting and yelling ‘Rock and Stone!’ while having a pint at the Abyss Bar in the player hub.

I’ve really enjoyed my 59 hours with the game so far and am almost about to promote my Scout for the second time! The game is easy to get into both solo and co-op. The download size is only 2.5GB also helps in conserving some storage on your console or PC/laptop.

Get the game on Steam, Xbox/Microsoft Store or the PlayStation Store to Rock and Stone!

Minn Yap
my18344@essex.ac.uk