I played a lot of The Culling 2 last weekend. The sequel to the popular (and quite fun) battle royale game launched on July 10th for Xbox One and PC. Being a fan of the original, I was eager to jump into matches of The Culling 2. Admittedly, I didn’t know that a sequel was even in development since I stopped playing after a few months to join friends wanting me to squad up in Fortnite: Battle Royale. Unfortunately, after the first match in The Culling 2, it was easy to see something was wrong. Let’s jump in.
Where were the players?
Player count is the most crucial aspect of any multiplayer video game. Let’s forget whether or not a game is fun; if no one is playing, why even bother sticking around? Xaviant increased the player count for the sequel from 16 to 50 players. The problem is that I never came close to reaching the number of players the studio wanted in the game. The highest player count I saw throughout my weekend with the game was 23. That’s less than half of the maximum amount of players allowed to be in a match. In fact, there was a game when there were only 13 players in my game. When there is only one huge map, having few players scattered around makes for a tedious experience.
Early Access or full release?
The Culling was in early access from March 2016 until its release in October 2017. The Xbox version had less time in between early access and the launch version. The reason for early access is to test the game out for bugs, issues, and listen to player feedback. Unfortunately, The Culling 2 skipped early access and went straight to the Xbox marketplace. I believe this is what ultimately led to the game’s demise. Granted, Xbox One fans were kind of “screwed over” since the launch of The Culling and The Culling 2 were too close together. Additionally, the player-base dropped fast with the success of PUBG and Fortnite: Battle Royale.
The Culling 2 looks worse than an early access game. One of my first criticisms was about how the game looked. Talking with some of the other writers on staff, I mentioned how The Culling 2 visually looked like a last generation game. It wasn’t flattering, but I would be willing to look past that if The Culling 2 was fun to play. Once again, this was another swing and a miss for the game. While The Culling was a unique battle royale experience, The Culling 2 was as generic as they came. It copied PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in almost every way and didn’t have its own identity. The gameplay was dull, the shooting wasn’t that responsive, and ultimately, it was forgettable. The Culling 2 was a game that should have been in development for much longer before seeing the light of day.
Revisiting the past… but is it too late?
Yesterday, Xaviant announced that the studio would be focusing on The Culling, relaunching it as The Culling: Day One. Xaviant Director Of Operations, Josh Van Veld spoke to Kotaku about the team going back to the original game.
Our immediate goal for The Culling in terms of our first update is to take the October 2017 build that’s live right now and to modify it so that every aspect of the gameplay matches the day one build.
Players weren’t entirely happy with The Culling after it exited early access. It’s tough to gauge how a video game will do after being reintroduced to the video game industry. Hello Games is seemingly “relaunching” No Man’s Sky later this month while Xaviant is now focusing on bringing back The Culling. After losing player’s trust, I find it difficult to get back into specific games. With the popularity of Fortnite: Battle Royale and PUBG, is there still space in the battle royale genre for The Culling to make a comeback? With Battlefield V and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, two sequels in popular franchise getting a battle royale mode, The Culling’s relevance seems to be decreasing fast.
Will people care about the game in a month? What about a year? It seems like The Culling’s time is up and honestly, that’s a shame. Sure, Xaviant made a few bad decisions regarding the franchise, but it’s evident that the studio is looking for redemption. Will their resurgence be with The Culling: Day One? I don’t think so. The apology they gave fans, and the refunds they are offering are steps in the right direction. I think there is space for Xaviant in the video game industry, but the studio needs to cut its losses and create a new IP. Working on The Culling: Day One realistically seems like it’s destined to fail. The oversaturation of battle royale games, and ones that are more popular make The Culling tough to find an audience.
Conclusion: what does the future hold?
People move on from video games all the time. With the exception of games like Overwatch, Halo 5: Guardians, World of Warcraft, DOTA 2, and Counter-Strike among others, many games have playerbases drop off constantly. With The Culling already having a low user count before the sequel was even announced, it doesn’t make any sense for the studio to revive the game. I was initially upset after playing The Culling 2 over the weekend, and I was ready to trash Xaviant for their treatment of the game.
Fortunately, they released the apology video, and I can see that they are truly sorry for the events that transpired. I’m not one to want a game to be shut down, but I think they should leave The Culling alone. The studio is full of talented people, and I think the best thing for the team to do is to focus on the future, and go back to the drawing board for a new video game. Xaviant wants to gain the player’s trust again, and I think it’s entirely possible, but like everything, it’ll take some time before that can ultimately happen.