Streaming murder-gameshow Darwin Project goes free-to-play

Darwin Project

In this strange age of Battle Royale shooters drawing crowds of millions, it’s hard for other multiplayer action games to find their footing, even if they do have an interesting hook like last-man-standing survival sandbox Darwin Project, which spices up its 10-player battles with Twitch audience integration, and a human ‘director’, able to skew the match for the audience’s amusement. In order to draw more people into its world of tactical public spectacle, Scavengers Studio have made their game free-to-play.

Yesterday, Darwin Project carried a £11.39/$14.99/€14.99 price-tag. Today, early adopters who bought in at the asking price are being given a bag of (presumably) cosmetic goodies early next week. To be precise:

If you own Darwin Project, you’ll receive the Founder’s Pack containing 2 Legendary sets, 3 Legendary Axes, 3 Legendary Bows, a full jumpsuit collection, and 5 Fan Gifts. It will be added to your inventory on Tuesday, April 24.

Scavengers Studio promise that they won’t sell any mechanical advantages to the game, so presumably everything you can buy or unlock will be cosmetic in nature, as is the done thing for free-to-play competitive games these days. Plus, fancy outfits make more sense in a game which is so heavily geared towards public streaming.

The game is still in Early Access, but Fraser went and took a look it just last month, and found himself enjoying the pseudo-spectator experience despite some initial disinterest in the concept. The game is definitely closer in style to The Culling than Fortnite, and commits significantly more to the virtual gameshow concept than either (or, for that matter, the recent Radical Heights).

I must admit that after some rather ham-fisted early marketing, I’d overlooked the game, but now that I have the bandwidth to stream again, I’m tempted to give this a spin, especially as there’s no financial barrier to entry anymore.

You can pick up Darwin Project here on Steam for the much more palatable price of Nada.


  1. Mr. Unpleasant says:

    Which will be the last game standing in this Battle Royale of Battle Royales!

  2. Rindan says:

    I popped in and tried this game a little today. I like the premise. It does some neat things with tracking and what not. There is a solid concept here. That said, I think the game needs much more content. Right now, there are basically only two weapons, ax and bow. I assume they are going to fix that.

    The director stuff is interesting, but it just isn’t clear what the director’s role is right now. A “good” director can keep the fights even and push people together. A “bad” director can lay their thumb on the scale of any fight and really fuck or help someone. There isn’t really any incentive for or policing against either type of behavior. A bad director can really fuck up the game and really troll people if they want by ruining all of the stealth elements.

    I’m even okay with the idea of a director being a total jackass and messing hard with someone, but I want some sort of reason or purpose for it. Right now, the only reason to be a good director is because you like making people happy. The game doesn’t seem to care if you are good or bad, but the people playing sure as shit care.

    • KingoSlice says:

      Regarding your first point on the director, the role is clearly laid on on their website. They wrote an entire honor code for the director that they expect people to abide by. In it, they say the role of the director is, unless agreed upon by everyone in the group, to make the game enjoyable for all players and keep things interesting. Yes, sometimes this means buffing someone that needs some help, but that also means the other person gets a reward for overcoming that obstacle, or they will receive a different type of buff to help them face the first buffed person. Keep it interesting.

      Regarding your second point, there is definitely an incentive to be a good director. When players die, they rate the director on a scale of 1-5 of how well they thought the director played their role. If the director receives too low of an average rating, they will have restricted abilities while playing as a show director, meaning playing that role will not be as fun and they won’t want to do it anymore.

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