The Culling is an upcoming multiplayer game that forces strangers to fight in a battle royal style, hunger games-esk Deathmatch. There isn’t much to the game as it stands, I only got my hands on it for about an hour so it is the briefest preview that I have taken part in for quite some time. The Culling will be available on steam and I think this is one to keep an eye on.

The gameplay is a simple concept: kill your enemies and survive to be the winner. There are two modes available, a straight up Deathmatch and a team Deathmatch mode. I never got the chance to team up with anyone and only played the solo Deathmatch. The unlucky contestant will spawn from an airdropped create at the beginning of the match and will have 20 minutes to make sure they are the last one standing. The FPS viewpoint is a standard for games like this and the lack of peripheral vision turns out to be a good thing. The map is fairly large and enemies aren’t easy to see. It throws some tension into what could have been a generic multiplayer game and even though it can be a little tricky to complete tasks that require some precision or dexterity (combat for one), it does keep you on your toes.

Where The Culling stands out is the crafting system. You won’t spawn with any weapons and unless you get lucky with a random find, you are going to have to build your instruments of murder. The system uses a resource that will initially limit your capability to craft high level items or a number of more simplistic weapons. This resource can be filled by exploring, picking up tanks of the stuff or killing an enemy. Two stones will make a knife, a third stone will turn that knife into a hatchet (no, I don’t really understand either) while sticks can be combined to make medical supplied or combine to two to make a spear or bow. The different combinations and possibilities are impressive but I think it will take a while to learn what combination of items makes a specific weapon and so on.

There is clearly work needed on some of the animations, running with a firearm looked disjointed, like I was a 1920’s gangster firing a Tommy Gun from the open window of a Ford but I am inclined to cut The Culling a break on this, after all it was only a small taste of a game that is still in development. The animations for creating items are hilariously bad too, in order to make a knife from two rocks (nope, still don’t know how it works), the character will just mash the two rocks together for a few seconds and hey presto! You’ve got yourself a knife.

The playable area is a diverse one, there are rocky hills, buildings, shadowed woods a fantastically open death-trap in the middle. With all of the different environments being lumped into one map, it means the stealthy player will be able to plant traps and ambushes from the woods, while more run and gun players will battle it out in the arena. The scoreboard is projected on the massive dome that envelopes the play area (kind of like Hunger Games and their slideshow). It’s an interesting way to incorporate the scoring system that is outside the norm. Bravo!

The commentator is brilliant too, it has the same gallows humour as Borderlands and for me at least, that’s a win. The control system can be awkward when trying to kill enemies, it is too jittery and lacks any crosshair function or accuracy. You can block enemy attacks or shove enemies to break their defence in addition to simply swinging your rock-knife in a wild arc and getting stabbed in the back of the neck as you run past them. Yes it happened, and no I’m not proud of it.

I had to reduce a few of the settings to get it to run on my PC, it still wasn’t a smooth play but as with any preview, I expect optimization and tweaks to be made before release.

In its current build, The Culling gives a lovely taste of what is to come, there may be issues with gameplay getting repetitive but with the level of choice that is open to the player, I can see this pushing through the boundary of being a simple multiplayer Deathmatch game and, if done properly, I can see The Culling becoming a new kind of Esport, one where reaction time and knowing the maps takes a back seat to the competitive, tactical and at times hectic gameplay. I am keen to see where The Culling goes from here, but I reckon it could be pretty damn high if they can get the right blend of tactical gameplay, humour and crafting.

Ready a cannon or grab your BR kitbag, because this game might get raw on you.