DEEP ROCK GALACTIC Interview: A Balanced Co-Op Challenge Game

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Ghost Ship Games is finally launching Deep Rock Galactic bringing a twist to the sci-fi action variety of gameplay, along with a strong focus on the co-op aspect featured in games like Left4Dead. While it may be just the Early Access version, it will be available on both Steam and Xbox One for players to team up, dig, and fight hordes of enemies as they look for their prized resources.

In light of the upcoming game release, I had to know more about Deep Rock Galactic and what it had to offer exactly. I was pleased to know that they have focused on balancing the gameplay styles, the difficulty levels, and even the type of Dwarves that you can play as so that no Dwarf is at a disadvantage when it comes to any of the different available missions.

If you haven't heard of Deep Rock Galactic yet, check out the launch trailer:

Interview with Soren

Q: What inspired you to make this game?

"We all love co-op games like Left4Dead, but were tired of playing the same static map over and over again. So the idea came up to combine the classic co-op shooter with a procedurally generated level and see what would happen. The first prototype used a Minecraft like approach with a cave-setting and that started spawning lots of ideas for both gameplay and setting."

Q: Will it be story and gameplay focused?

"The game is born out of a gamplay idea and the co-op nature makes it much easier for us to focus on the gameplay first and story later. Initially, the story was just about dwarves digging for gold. We then elaborated a bit on it to have them working for this intergalactic space mining company and that in turn helped us derive a new game idea. By having the story to be more like a premise and not a personal story, it makes it possible for us to let people play and show the game without any risk of spoilers."

Q. You have shown footage of spider encounters, but what are some of the other enemies players will run in to?

"Back in the pre-alpha builds, we also had some flying jellies (though they got cut again) and a cave leech that will suck you up with its tentacle. Since then, we have also added Spitballers, Maggots, Lootbugs, and more spider variations - they are called Glyphids in the game. Creating more enemy types is high on our our to-do list. Of course, we have some ideas, and our community of Closed Alpha testers has LOTS of ideas for new enemies. The main thing is that we want the enemies to be disgusting, alien and scary."

Q. Will there be large beast encounters, perhaps much like boss battles?

"Yes to both, at least for the full version of the game. For Update 5, we introduced the Glyphid Dreadnought, which is now also part of the Extermination Missions. During the Early Access / Game Preview time, we’ll look into developing both more mini-bosses and maybe also some really BIG boss monsters."

Q. What is the main objective for the player?

"You are just a worker in the mines of Hoxxes IV, a very hostile alien planet filled with all sorts of riches. You are working for Deep Rock Galactic, a very tenacious and bold mining corporation, and you are sent down on specific missions as part of your mining job. So, in a sense, it’s just another work day for you. A very dangerous one at that. Deep Rock Galactic is of course rewarding you for the hard work, but at the same time, you are just one of many dwarves and there is always another miner to replace you, if you start complaining!"

Q: While playing your game, what can players expect?

"Judging from the feedback we got from our Closed Alpha community and by watching streamers, new players can expect a quite unique experience where co-op teamwork really matters. The feel of exploring the caves combined with intensity of the battles gives the game a different pacing than your regular shooter. And of course, the theme of space dwarves digging for gold adds a natural role-playing element which makes for some excellent moments for streamers and the community."

Q: Would you say that players will spend more time exploring, mining materials or fighting?

"Hmm. We have not added metrics for this, so I can’t tell you for sure. But the design goal is something like a 50/50 split between exploring and fighting, where mining materials is seen as part of exploring. Judging from our own experience and the videos on Youtube, I think we are quite satisfied with how it plays out. Some mission types might have much more exploration or much more combat, but all the player classes are suited for both, so it should never be a problem."

Q: A side from cave diving, will there be other forms of gameplay for players?

"The game features a hub called the Space Rig, where you can hang out between missions. For now, the main thing to do here is upgrading your character classes and selecting new missions. But we intend to expand on this part as we move along through Early Access. The main gameplay will always be the missions, the cave diving, yes, but we feel it’s important to juxtapose this with a feeling of being home and relatively safe as well as a feeling of being in outer space. It’s also a great place for us to set the tone of the Deep Rock Galactic mining company and for player to just have some silly fun."

Q: What customization options will players have?

"Each class has access to upgrades on their classes. In the current implementation you will eventually get all upgrades, so a fully upgraded character will be the same. But while you progress, different prioritizations will result in slightly different builds.
On the cosmetic side, the players will have access to acquire new armors, hats and beards (!). This has no gameplay effect, but is way to make you look cool and unique. The launch build will only have a smaller set of cosmetic items, but we’ll add more along with the regular updates to the game."

Q: Whats the deepest someone can go? Can they get stuck?

"If you keep drilling down, you will eventually hit some really hard material. Technically, we could let you go really deep, but since we are only generating a specific number of caves, we thought it was a little misleading to not stop you. Since you always have your pickaxe ready, you are never stuck. And the pickaxe also functions as a melee weapon, which means even if you are out of ammo and fuel, you always have a fighting chance. Though on highest difficulties, you will surely die."

Q: What multiplayer options will your game feature?

"You can play co-op from 2-4 players, where 4 players is the most rewarding experience. We feature server selection lists, quick join, and friend invites. You join together in the Space Rig. And after a mission, your team are still together in the Space Rig and can take on a new mission. You can freely change classes between missions. We have no restrictions, so you can setup up a team of 4 Drillers if you like.
We also feature a Solo mode, where you get accompanied by a an all-purpose drone called Bosco. Bosco can shoot, mine, dig, and light for you and most importantly, Bosco can revive you twice."

Q: Who is your target audience?

"Our primary focus is on the co-op action fans. There are still not that many co-op focused games, though this year we are seeing a trend with more and more titles focusing in co-op. Deep Rock Galactic also features dwarves as main characters and there seems to be a group of fans that simply love anything dwarf."

I am excited to get to try out the first open launch of the game and trying out a great feel to the co-op aspect. I always enjoyed being able to play the massive, challenging games with a friend because each player possesses different skills to help one another reach a successful mission. Having the option to play solo is a great aspect that I am glad they didn't leave out. Putting the effort to include a solo exclusive help bot really brings out the amount of care this team has put into Deep Rock Galactic.

What do you think? Is this the type of game that you can see yourself and possibly some friends getting into?