Last week Behaviour Interactive Inc unleashed the Deathgarden closed alpha and we were lucky enough to get a code to test it out on stream! For those of you that managed to tune in, you will have seen my initial impressions of the opening games but I wanted to share some additional thoughts on the game following a few hours of game time.
As some of you know, I play a lot of Dead By Daylight which was also created by Behaviour which is an asymmetrical survival game pitting 4 survivors against a killer in a bid to escape. The killers win by sacrificing survivors to the entity while the survivors need to fix enough generators to escape through exit gates.
Similarly, Deathgarden is also an asymmetrical survival game except this time, it’s a Hunter with guns, turrets, mines and some tricks up their sleeves in an arena against 5 runners. Runners lack weaponry of sorts but are able to use their crossbow to fire bolts which might be able to distract or hinder the hunter. The hunters only needs to kill 3 runners in order to win the round but there are 3 points which the runners can capture in order to open gates to get out and take the win. The concepts may be similar but the execution is most certainly different.
Let’s start with the Hunter… I was a terrible hunter. I don’t tend to like playing offensive characters which is why I rarely play killer in Dead By Daylight as I’m not that great and also apologetic. Deathgarden presents more of a fast paced FPS feel as you run around the terrain and try to spot the runners running and climbing around like monkeys as they leap and bound around the arena. You pick your loadout so could have a sniper, shotgun, turrets and mines as well as a standard rifle to put the runners down but you’ll have to wait for the Bloodpost to be charged in order to send a runner to be executed. You can leave a downed runner on the ground but risk losing them in the grass as they can crawl away to get revived. The arena powers that be will reveal runners to you if they’re on a point allowing you to see an outline but it will be up to you to head there before they get it to 50% or 100%. I found playing the Hunter difficult as I still feel like I’m learning FPS on PC and when the runners move so quickly, it can be hard to keep track of them. From a spectating standpoint, I found good hunters baited the runners out and really utilised their mines, traps and turrets to help chip away at them until they were all downed or desperately trying to revive teammates in a risky situation. I could never be that good and the shotgun seems so overpowered that I sort of wished I had picked that instead of the sniper!
As for the Runners, they are agile and quick. Before the game start, you pick your special arrows and your ‘perks’ which can include 50% faster revive time and recovering stamina faster. I assume on launch there will be more perks to unlock too. Upon entering the arena, you need to mark ammo, health and upgrade boxes along with gear upgrade stations and the points you need to capture. It’s good to stick together at the start as being close to people when they open boxes also gives you the ammo or upgrade you’ll need. Heading to a station early on will allow the runner to get their special arrows which can help their team or slow down the hunter. Having these early on gives you a good advantage to ensure you can help your team and I spent the first few games not realising how to do this and was therefore useless! Stealth can be the best option in this game as if you hear the hunter coming with his loud footsteps, you can crouch in the long grass or hide behind something while they search. Luckily you can keep an eye on your team even if they’re on the other side of the map as you can see their outline so you know if they’re on a point, it might be worth getting onto another one as the hunter can’t be in two places at once. It’s a good tactic, to be fair, and usually buys you, or your teammates, some time to charge up. Hide, run, revive, charge, work together and upgrade… that’s what successful running teams do.
For the hunters, weapons are hard hitting and deadly. The turrets are useful for placing around the bloodpost or near to the points to slow down the runners on their way to rescue or charge the columns. Mines are also handy for that if, coupled with the stun bolt, you can hit the runner with to give them a knock so you can get them down. For the runners, your bolts can be used to heal and help your team get back up, stun or slow down the hunter. These don’t do damage but can give you a few seconds to get running or rescue someone if needed.
Once the alpha had been underway for a couple of days, the devs switched on the option to play with friends and this instantly improved my experience. Playing with a fellow streamer, we had much better communication and could help each other while spectating or locating boxes. Now while the game does offer some comms in the form of quick chat (which can be used to communicate in all languages) so you can talk to your teammates, I still like having voice chat as it’s faster and you can describe things better. I did find being able to tell strangers via quick text that I was capturing a point was great though as this is very much a game in which you need to work together. As a team we took part in some intense games. My experiences felt rather brief in the beginning as we all learned the ropes but as people got used to the format suddenly the games felt like the pressure to win was on. We had a great round where everyone worked together, kept the hunter bouncing from point to point, revives were all around and there were Bloodpost rescues everywhere. It was great and we escaped which was great! More rounds like that please!
Overall, Deathgarden has made a pretty good first impression and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next stage of opening up to the players offers. If you haven’t managed to catch any gameplay yet, lots of content creators, including myself, were lucky enough to get some time with the game so there will be plenty of footage on Twitch and YouTube to come. Who knows, when the beta is up, maybe I’ll meet some of you in the arena!