Written by Ian Cawley | Edited by Jade Swann

With gorgeous visuals, pleasing soundscapes, extensive customization options, and plenty of gameplay variety, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Deep Rock Galactic.

Dwarf Stars

Created by Ghost Ship Games, Deep Rock Galactic is a co-op FPS with fully destructible environments, millions of angry bugs to shoot and stomp, procedurally-generated caverns that range from claustrophobic to epic, and beers that make your Dwarven bowels shoot sparkles out of your butt.

Deep Rock Galactic is my favorite game this year. Maybe my favorite game of last year, as well. I’ve already poured over sixty hours into it, as has every friend or colleague I’ve seen on this magical adventure into the caves of Hoxxes IV. Many players have boasted hundreds of hours so far and are still shouting “Rock and Stone!” and praising Karl with the rest of us miners.

Do you find yourself reminiscing over the old LAN parties of youth? Borderlands, Left 4 Dead, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles? Those warm fuzzy feelings of giddy hijinks, and the awe of exploration, are what keep me coming back to Deep Rock Galactic over and over, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

The Big “WOW”

First and foremost: there is a lot to do in Deep Rock Galactic. I mean like a gastronomical entity swallowed by Dagon and regurgitated into beautiful crystalline splendor, a lot. The caves you delve are procedurally generated, which might strike you as cliché until you actually see how many different rooms, biomes, hazards, and challenges are peppered in there to completely wow you. I’ve seen maybe one or two caves that were particularly familiar in my entire play time so far, which is just staggering, considering you can be in and out of a spelunking trip in a matter of minutes, if you know what you’re doing. It’s easy to spend as much as an hour wandering through the same caves without running out of new things to see in those of higher complexity.

On top of that, you’ve got four highly customizable classes, each unique and with their own tools that can either focus on utility, damage, or goofs. Oh yeah, there’s a lot of goofs to be had, by the way. Dance parties, drinking contests, barrel riding, stranding your partner in the vacuum of space, all kinds of fun. There’s an embarrassing amount of cosmetics that’ll keep you digging even longer to get that special double-braided beard for the Scout you’ve been leveling up lately, and the devs aren’t even done adding things to the game!

In fact, they have a roadmap laid out and have been sticking to it since way before the 1.0 launch, and it’ll take them all the way through the end of the year at least. So keep that pickaxe nice and sharp for a while.


This game is a delight right from the beginning. You’re given a tutorial mission before you have any chance to get confused, just “here are the mechanics, here’s the gameplay loop” without context, and then you’re given the broader context and a playground of distractions. It’s effective and enticing.

At first glance, or looking at screenshots, it’s easy to snub your nose at the visuals. Maybe they look a little cartoony, or maybe they look unpolished or cluttered. I can be blamed for thinking that as well, just flipping through Steam recommendations and not giving it a second glance. 

Let me stop you there. This game is gorgeous. I cannot describe the beauty and quiet wonder that shook inside me early on when I discovered there’s a dedicated button to remove the HUD, right next to the key for your headlamp.

I had just gotten through a scrap with some angry bugs in a tightly winding tunnel of rock (the flora and fauna of Hoxxes IV are not to be trifled with, especially on harder difficulties), found a patch of loose dirt, sunk my pickaxe into it, and heaved. What gave way behind the falling dirt was a massive cavern, dark and beautiful, twinkling with bio-luminescence and striations of precious minerals. I could hear the distant snapping sound of a Trapatactus and the tittering of Loot bugs close by. I tossed a flare out into the void, watching the light catch and bounce off all manner of surfaces before me, reflected in the eyes of a few predators as it settled with a “clink” beneath their feet. I grunted something witty, cocked my shotgun, and stepped out to meet them just as a resupply pod my buddy had called dove drill-first into my skull.

All this to say that the art style syncs perfectly with the graphics and tone of the game. There will be as many foreboding or wondrous moments as there are silly ones, and the shape and color those things take are all distinct and yet homogeneous. Nothing looks out of place, even handling all those different tones. And Deep Rock Galactic can swing wildly from harrowing to gorgeous to silly in seconds. Moreover, the visual style lends itself to a level of conveyance that makes snap decisions a breeze. You know exactly what you’re looking at, even from a distance. And if you’re a greenbeard, there’s a dedicated button to tell you exactly what you’re looking at, or ping it for your friends to explain.

I cannot stress how many simple design decisions were made to make the player’s life much, much easier than it needs to be. I keep discovering new clever things that either multiply variety within the gameplay loop, illustrate a threat or boon with ease, or generally add harmony to my little adventures. Quality of life was clearly high on the list of priorities for Ghost Ship Games.

Audio Jungle

The soundscape of Deep Rock Galactic is a delicious milkshake of texture. Each dwarf has a unique voice, tons of quippy dialogue, and a heap of helpful observations while clambering over rocks and fighting enemies. A dwarf will often shout about the biggest threat, call out resources as he sees them, and even make a joke or two about someone falling on their arse.

The music threads carefully between waves of subtle tone-setting and action-packed jams, all contextual and effective. Various enemies and hazards all have distinct sound cues that you can pick out even when the game seems to be throwing everything at you at once, which will definitely happen from time to time.

The foley work is also a masterclass of style. Different materials all make different noises, so you know exactly what you’re digging into, even in the deepest dark while you curse spending all your flares in one place. Guns are punchy and satisfying to shoot, flares have a majestic roar as they sail overhead, and the fart sounds… well, they are effective. Even the goofy little jukebox in the mining ship has more tracks than I expected. I keep hearing new ones, even when I thought I’d heard them all.

Deep Rock Galactic is a loud game. I find myself turning down most games to be able to hear my friends chat, but I have to thread the needle with that here because there is so much information in the soundscape that I need to hear every last crunch, scitter, and blast.

Enjoy Alone Time

Deep Rock Galactic is built around four player co-op, and has a number of ways to match you with friends or acquaintances rather intuitively, but I recommend giving solo mode a try as well. Maybe you’re tired of getting shot (although the community has a dedicated Discord and are generally quite friendly and helpful) or maybe you just don’t have anyone online late at night when you feel the crystals calling you. Never fear, Bosco is here!

Getting lost in the caves with your little robo buddy Bosco can be a soothing treat, or a lonely and harrowing one. Either way, you’ll come out feeling even more sure of your abilities. Bosco can easily be outfitted with extra defibrillator charges for when you fumble that jump and fall into a ravine, or miscalculate the blast radius of your grenade. He can help you mine in a hurry, and acts as a mobile defense turret with cryo-missiles if need be.

As a bonus, Bosco will accompany you on any public co-op mission until a fellow dwarf takes a drop-pod into your location. Oh yeah, drop-in co-op is very much a thing. This is a game I’d love to see with all kinds of cross-platform magic happening someday soon.

Fun For the Whole Family

The gameplay is deep enough that I can tackle the challenging “Deep Dives” with my serious shooter friends and hunt for rare Overclocks, or crank the difficulty down and play with my nephew and have a blast, and still get the crafting materials or mission progress I need for my own sense of accomplishment.

There are only ten types of permanent resources to manage and all of them spawn in fair and reasonable quantities, and it doesn’t take long to unlock the trading post if you find yourself overwhelmed with one type or needing another. Suck it, Warframe. This is how you make grinding fun.

Even my roommate (who struggles with Mario Odyssey and occasionally asks for my help) had a jaunty little expedition after watching with fascination, eventually asking if she could try. She laughed when she figured out how to use the Gunner’s zipline to turn a boss fight into a fun little conga line dance that almost trivialized the fight.

Let me be clear, if you want Deep Rock Galactic to challenge you, it will absolutely oblige. The difficulty curve gracefully transitions from “easy for kids” all the way to “holy hell, are we out of ammo again?!” and necessitating clear communication, quick thinking, and creative problem solving.


The Verdict: Evolutionary

I cannot get enough of this game. If Minecraft had too much freedom, or Vermintide II didn’t have enough, this will definitely find the sweet spot. Maybe the lack of PvP won’t tick everyone’s boxes, but I cannot recommend it enough. Whether you want a challenge, a relaxing dig with friends, or even some alone time, Deep Rock Galactic can be for you. And if you like how the bucket of gold feels in your hands, well, I’ll see you on the surface.

See About Us to learn how we score

Recently Reviewed

The Overpowered Noobs