Before there was Plunkbat and Fortnite, there was The Culling, swaggering into the twilight days of The Age Of Survival Games with a bare-faced but nonetheless accomplished multiplayer take on The Hunger Games – or, as we now call it/as we called it before The Hunger Games, battle royale. The lurid Culling burned bright for many months, as my recurring nightmares that I still have to write the then-unchanging Steam Charts can attest to, but ultimately its combination of tree-punching survival tropes and the find a gun/run-run-run ethos of Plunkbat fell out of favour. Thoroughbred, headshot-or-bust battle royale had arrived, and suddenly no-one was interested in banging two rocks together to make a fragile shiv any more.
Don’t call it a comeback. Because, er, The Culling 2 hasn’t been released yet. But it will be!
We have about as many details on The Culling 2 as certain world leaders have moments of quiet self-reflection, which is to say none at all. A logo, and that’s your lot:
The questions surrounding it, however, range beyond the trad. “when’s it out / how many killings are there / how many graphics out of 10” Need To Knows.
For starters, there’s the question of how it’s going to compete not just with Plunkbat, but with the off-Steam and free-to-play Fortnite – or if it even needs to. Not every shootyman game needs to immediately hit number and squat there for weeks, y’know. Some battle royale game developers don’t own even one yacht and they feel just fine about that. I imagine.
I don’t see The Culling 2 going free to play, realistically, unless it’s pivoting far away from its broadly realistic killings into something altogether more all-ages in the hope of getting a piece of Fortnite pie, but who can say? No-one really saw Plunk or Fortnite coming, after all.
As far existing Culling players are concerned, the big question around the sequel is whether it will in any way compensate them for that they feel was an early abandonment of the first game. The devs announced last December that, while the servers would remain open, The Culling would not see any more meaningful updates. At that point, it had only been out of early access for two months – although it had been the better part of two years since its first alpha version wandered on to Steam.
There are no rules on how long a multiplayer game should be updated for, early access or not, but certainly a fair few Culling buyers feel short-changed. Take a look at the replies to the embedded Tweet above (actually, don’t) and you’ll see a great many protestations that a) the devs did not give the first game its dues and b) therefore all Culling owners should get The Culling 2 for free. I am reminded of the Left 4 Dead > Left 4 Dead 2 controversy, because time is a flat circle and all that.
Who knows what they’ll do, but more importantly, The Culling 2 needs to blow the bloody doors if it wants to make an impact. Me, I hope it does stick to its guns and retain an oddball crafting/building element, because it’s very hard to make a case for simply another field full of people with guns right now.