Dar­win Project

Mixer-ing it up with TV-style di­rec­tion

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - PREVIEW - Daniella Lu­cas Pub­lisheR Scav­engers Stu­dio De­vel­oper Scav­engers Stu­dio For­mat Xbox One ETA Spring 2018

“It’s not just your fel­low play­ers to be wary of; the arena is deadly as well”

It’s hor­ri­bly cold, you’ve been dumped in an arena, and now you have to kill all of your friends for the en­ter­tain­ment of oth­ers and your own sur­vival. Dar­win

Project is es­sen­tially Hunger Games: The Videogame, then, but with­out the flam­boy­ant out­fits and pa­rade be­fore­hand. Much like PlayerUn­k­nown’s Bat­tle­grounds and Fort­nite, it’s es­sen­tially a bat­tle royale at heart, but with a few twists.

Matches are much smaller, with only ten peo­ple in an arena, so it’s a lit­tle less fran­tic, and has a greater fo­cus on sur­vival with craft­ing. It’s not just your fel­low play­ers you have to be wary of; the arena it­self is also deadly. It’s bit­terly cold, and you will freeze to death if you don’t find some­where warm or start a fire, but by start­ing a fire you’ll also give away your po­si­tion, and other play­ers will be able to track and/or mur­der you more eas­ily, so there’s a huge amount of risk in­volved. You can also find de­vices lo­cated around the arena that will show you where other play­ers are, or help you follow their foot­prints. This all adds up to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where you’re con­stantly hunt­ing peo­ple down while be­ing hunted your­self.

The lack of guns in the game mean you won’t be able to do any se­ri­ous dam­age from a dis­tance. You can even­tu­ally get bows, but most of the time you’ll be forced to get your hands dirty by get­ting up close and per­sonal. You have an axe to help you chop down wood for fires and which also comes in handy if some­one tries to sneak up on you and get in your face. A few chops should do the trick. The arena is also full of other tools and traps that you can use to your ad­van­tage—if you’re clever you can use a fire to lure peo­ple to­wards your po­si­tion be­fore tak­ing them out.

Spec­ta­tor sport

For those watch­ing a match un­fold, there are sev­eral ways to in­ter­act with the game—you can bet on cer­tain play­ers or even vote on who to re­veal for a man­hunt. There’s also a game di­rec­tor to help fa­cil­i­tate all of this, able to pro­vide com­men­tary or give cer­tain play­ers buffs or de­buffs to try and en­cour­age a more dra­matic game for ev­ery­one in­volved.

A re­cent beta test of the PC ver­sion pro­vided some in­sight into how a match will ac­tu­ally play out. Mostly the re­sponse was pos­i­tive, with the di­rec­tor po­si­tion help­ing to ramp up the ten­sion. How­ever there were com­plaints over how some as­pects worked and could be abused. For in­stance, there’s a planned me­chanic that lets a di­rec­tor broad­cast a player’s lo­ca­tion to start a man­hunt of that per­son, but it was al­ready be­ing abused by spite­ful play­ers, or those who teamed up with oth­ers to give their friends more of an ad­van­tage. It’s a mas­sive prob­lem for play­ers, as those that abuse the di­rec­tor pow­ers will ruin the games for oth­ers, so some as­pects might have to be re­worked to pre­vent this. Or at the very least some kind of re­port­ing fea­ture or bal­ance tweaks to lessen the po­ten­tial for bul­ly­ing.

While there def­i­nitely are a few kinks to work out be­fore a full re­lease, it’s a re­ally promis­ing idea that blends the best of bat­tle royale games with those that love to watch games on the likes of Twitch and Mixer. If done well it could quite pos­si­bly kick­start a new genre of more spec­ta­tor-ori­en­tated gam­ing, but it will all de­pend on how well it’s bal­anced to see if it makes for a good show.

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