The Culling Hands-On Preview

The Culling Screenshot 1

To back up for a moment, The Culling includes every-man-for-himself matches and doubles matches, where communication is the building block to victory. You must watch your partners’ backs. You can spot they’re outlines when they step out of sight, though enemies can see their teammates, as well. Confronting an opponent probably means his friend is not far behind. A distance marker also conveys how far you are from your associate, if the outline is too faint.

In tag matches, The Culling permits certain strategies. Perks diversify the conflicts, because you never know what skills your opponents equipped. The “armorer” perk outfits players in full body armor, “maniac” reduces the damage you’ll take when wielding an axe by 25 percent, and the “immunity” buff grants invincibility to bonus backstab or headshot damage. Where somebody might have a weakness to ranged weapons, an ally might reinforce it.

In a wise move, Xaviant unlocks every perk from square one. Players only pick three passive skills, though a boost to damage reduction, for example, may save your avatar’s life. Settling on the perfect loadout seems agonizing, considering the random loot. But The Culling reveals the abilities of your killer, so you can sample that combo in future skirmishes.

With teammates, you can act a little more reckless. You also double the amount of inventory spaces at your disposal. You cannot horde every rock, stimulant, or satchel you find ‒ just five items in all, and those slots fill up quick. While it sounds foolish, I faced occasions in which I neglected to take a medkit, or wasted it to restore a couple health, to deny other survivors the chance of snatching the syringe off my corpse.

The Culling Screenshot 4

What’s not up for contention: The Culling is well optimized for a range of PC hardware. DayZ relied on a player’s CPU to do the heavy lifting, whereas Ark: Survival Evolved wants fans to wrangle dinosaurs rather than launch the game consistently. The Culling will not win graphical awards in its present state, thanks to the objects that clip through each other or the custom characters that look deformed ‒ muscular yet emaciated. The isolated performance problems I encountered were strictly related to server activity.

Weapons might bug out and become unusable if players drop them, or your punches may not register. The Culling maintains a rock-paper-scissors mentality to its combat. Blocking resists attacks, shoving someone breaks blocks, and assaulting people in the midst of a shove could disorient them. Combat, however, is still subject to lag, wherein attacks connect half a second later or a shove accomplishes nothing. With the servers housed exclusively in North America for now, I would hope these problems rectify themselves someday.

Nevertheless, The Culling brings a raw quality to its brawls. Every hook or jab connects with a fleshy impact, and when I did backstab someone using a wrench or pipe, I felt as though I was bashing the brains out of an actual character. Each corpse and its blood splatter tells a story I would like to see depicted by improved damage modeling.

Characters also move with an agility missing from Arma, DayZ, and so forth. Falling two feet in DayZ shatters your legs, whereas The Culling allows players to jump higher and farther than Michael Jordan in his prime. Fall damage kicks in around three-story drops, as well. It permits players to arrange a getaway instead of fighting a losing battle ‒ sometimes you have to be a coward for the sake of a teammate.

The Culling Screenshot 7

To emphasize, The Culling is an excellent study on warding off campers. Gas canisters, if you detonate them, coat a large surface area in toxic fumes. At a particular point, people can also activate every canister on the map once they reach the middle of it. If that fails to produce a winner, gas (that doesn’t dissipate) blankets everything except the metal arena at the five- or ten-minute mark, and matches scarcely surpass 20 minutes as is. The timer sees to that.

In another moment of foresight, The Culling does not dole out upgrades or money or the like for finishing first. Win or lose, players acquire a cosmetic item for their troubles, letting fashionistas decorate the least dateable avatar in the game, or leaving entrepreneurs to hawk their surplus goods on the Steam market in the vein of Team Fortress 2.

And yet, where does The Culling go from here? The HUD portrays your partner’s stamina and health, but for Early Access and beyond, The Culling should display a teammate’s buffs and/or debuffs.

Landmarks are an amalgam of the familiar. Spitballing, a frigid or arid environment may work wonders, perhaps an urban locale or two. Additional hazards, natural or man-made, would be welcome, but the game’s Steam page confirms those are in production. As things stand, the free-for-alls remain prone to stalemates as the population dwindles, where the last three or four individuals refuse to leave their hideouts.

The Culling Screenshot 6

I would not say no to more weapons, either, as well as a greater stamina penalty for pushing people. Shoving someone consumes trifling amounts of energy, so players may spam it to buck someone’s block.

Of course, I’d love extra modes or modifiers. Players fight to be the last man standing for every match. Introducing a match type that determines one’s rank based on kills or F.U.N.C. collected could lead to less stalling during the closing minutes.

Spawns need further testing during team matches. In several instances, I met the blood-coated spears of a group not two minutes into the match, whereas my friend appeared another 800 meters away. Spacing teams at an equal distance would mitigate contestants getting unfairly overwhelmed.

Whether or not Xaviant ratifies those alterations, I am already enamored by The Culling, by the way minimal resources, a small-ish map, and always-ticking timer promote confrontations. You can memorize the area’s finer features in the span of a couple rounds, though the random loot and assorted player pool often lead to unlikely underdog stories.

The Culling owes more to its success than a semblance to The Hunger Games; it could one day lead the PvP pack.