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The Culling returns in free-to-play form

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Game show style battle royale The Culling has returned in free-to-play form, allowing players to take in the jungle sights, bludgeon one another to death, and ruminate on the dystopic reality TV they’re making, all without paying for the privilege.

Developers Xaviant Games have had their ups and downs in the battle royale world. The Culling originally launched in early access way back in the pre-Plunkbat, pre-Fortnite days of 2016. It left early access in October of 2017, but just a couple of months later the developers announced that they would no longer be providing updates for the game.

Not long after that, they announced The Culling 2, which launched this July. It didn’t go down so well, to put it mildly, and just a few days later they stated that they’d be pulling it from sale and offering refunds to those who had bought it.

Still, they’ve persisted, deciding to returning to what made players interested in the original game as a basis for this free-to-play relaunch. That means fewer players per murder-island and less focus on rifles, for example. But they also promise “a whole host of improvements and new features” like XP points that award “Cull Crates” full of cosmetic items. (You can, of course, also buy these with real money.)

I hope that this works out for them, not just because it’s no fun to see games that people have worked hard on flop but also because I really find myself enjoying The Culling in its current form. I like that it plays up its Hunger Games-style TV show set-dressing, complete with creepy commentator and ominous sky billboard showing who’s alive, who’s dead, and who killed who. I like that it discourages hiding by having items like the (admittedly badly named) “man tracker,” which points you towards your nearest competitor. I really like that I played one game, killed three people, almost poisoned myself, died in a messy fight with both the other two remaining players, and am now all jittery and pumped up on adrenaline.

From my brief experience today, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed since Brendan's early access review from 2016, if you want a more thorough look. Or you can try it out for yourself for free now via Steam.

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The Culling

Xbox One, PC

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Jay Castello avatar

Jay Castello


Jay writes about video games, falls down endless internet rabbit holes, and takes a lot of pictures of flowers.