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The Darwin Project feels better than it looks

The competitive survival game might actually be worth shouting about

Patrick talks about the Darwin Project
Patrick Gill (he/him) has been making serious and unserious videos for Polygon since 2016. He also co-hosts & produces Polygon’s weekly livestreams on Twitch.

The Darwin Project didn’t make a fantastic impression with me when it debuted on stage and Microsoft’s E3 press conference. The gameplay of the six-person free-for-all was frenetic and hard to follow, and the dude on stage scared me with his loud yelling and hostile body language.

Once I got my hands on The Darwin Project, however, I started to see the appeal. At the beginning of each match, six players are dropped into the wilderness with an axe and a bow. From there, you begin scavenging resources that you can craft into ammunition for your bow, clothing to protect you from the elements, or more complex tools like cloaking devices and turrets.

Soon, you need to start making decisions. Do you keep scavenging for resources, or start hunting your foes? Scavenging leaves a trail. If you happen across a resource depleted by an enemy, a quick examination will let you see their location for a few seconds.

Over the course of the game, new portions of the map become uninhabitable until the survivors are forced into a tiny killbox. That’s where crafting some good gear pays off. The combat itself isn’t particularly deep or satisfying; most of my enjoyment came from choosing how and when to ambush my enemies.

The Darwin Project is still early in development, and I’m excited to see how it looks when it eventually launches on Xbox One.

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