This addictive and challenging mix of game genres set deep underground manages to appeal to a wide audience, whether it's sci-fi or multiplayer fans. Think you've got a rough job? Try spelunking alien caves, fending off bloodthirsty monsters with limited resources and your trusty pickaxe, and hopefully making it out alive with a decent profit like the miners of Deep Rock Galactic. It takes the resource collection of games like Minecraft and mixes in elements of a first-person co-op survival shooter. This makes for an odd hybrid of gameplay, to be sure. One minute you're carefully navigating the hazards of a dark cave and slowly mining pockets of rare minerals, and the next minute you're fighting for your life against swarms of rushing alien spiders, like a scene ripped out of Starship Troopers. Survive the swarm, and you're back to the slow burn of excavation as the cycle repeats. And yet, as odd as the combination may seem, it somehow happens to work.
They say there's no substitute for hard work, and make no mistake about it, your time with Deep Rock Galactic is going to be hard work. While the controls are relatively straightforward and instantly familiar to first-person shooter fans, other quirks in the gameplay can complicate things. For starters, each mission is procedurally generated. That means the location of vital resources can vary to an extreme. One game, you might find multiple veins clustered close together and within arms' reach, while the next you might have to traverse halfway to the planet's core only to find a deposit in the ceiling of a massive cavern. Each class comes with some sort of ability to help overcome these obstacles (zip lines, drills, deployable platforms, etc.), but you'll usually need a full team working together to make the best use of them. Interestingly enough, solo play is quite a bit easier, thanks to a flying robotic sidekick that can provide covering fire and be directed to mine those hard-to-reach areas. Still, getting the goods is only half the battle. Once the escape pod is called in, the game becomes a mad race to the finish, with players trying to remember which way is up and find the fastest path to victory. It can be frustrating to get so close to victory, only to get turned around and miss the flight home. But despite the game's occasional frustration, Deep Rock Galactic is a fun twist on familiar genres and a great way to earn a (virtual) paycheck.