The dwarves of folklore and fantasy are known for their burning passion for smithing and mining, and their love for plunder and gold. As boisterous as they are quick to anger, they prefer resolving arguments by duking it out with their fists—and then drinking themselves to a stupor. Yet, despite their inclination for brawling, their gruff demeanour belies a strong sense of loyalty and justice. And to be frank, I’ve always found their camaraderie rather endearing.
There aren’t many videogames that allow players to partake in the finest activities of dwarven culture, such as beer chugging, gold mining and fist-fighting. Scratching that itch for me now is Deep Rock Galactic, a co-op first-person shooter that features four foul-mouthed dwarfs who spend their days mining for precious minerals. But they don’t wield massive axes and hammers. Instead, they carry firearms, flare guns and hi-tech mining equipment like zip guns and grappling hooks. They take part in intergalactic space mining operations. And they battle with a slew of hostile alien lifeforms.
Seriously, why hasn’t anyone thought of this ingenuity before? It’s perfect. Imagine tons of uninhabitable planets, home to a mother lode of gold and rare minerals tucked away in crevices, while venomous creatures stand guard over them. That’s right; most self-respecting dwarfs would be stampeding to these planets right now if they have the technology to do so.
Deep Rock Galactic is currently in closed beta, so the expedition’s only objective—for now—is to extract enough resources and get the hell out. Of course, the excavation is never that straightforward. After being lowered into a chasm deep beneath the planet’s surface, the team quickly seeks out brightly colored ore, while fending off the occasional swarm of aliens. Like the various classes in Team Fortress 2, each dwarf is outfitted with a unique set of equipment. For instance, the Engineer can build a gun turret, while the Gunner wields a gigantic Gatling gun. The environment is destructible too, so you can carve steps towards a hard-to-reach ore.
What’s alluring about Deep Rock Galactic is how mining and combat are evenly paced out, so there’s hardly ever a dull moment. Spend too much time digging for gold, and aliens will be hurtling your way just so to keep you on your toes. You can also discover your appetite for toiling and heavy labor by picking away at ore veins with like-minded dwarves. And battling against hordes of aliens—while bulldozing your way back to safety—may remind you of the kinship dwarves are so known for. Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs? The Hobbit’s Thorin and Company? Sign me right up. It’s no wonder the dwarves love their job so much.
Gaming has long been a solitary activity for me. As I even experience minor anxiety while gaming with strangers over the internet, I usually keep multi-player experiences at bay. However—and this is coming from someone who’s mostly terrified by social experiences—Deep Rock Galactic is probably best experienced as a group. Ditch the single player mode, gather a bunch of like-minded dwarfs and get digging. Like the motivational quote in Deep Rock Galactic that reads, “Dig together or dig your own grave”, a truer adage has never been uttered. Even if you feel too inadequate to contribute much during the expedition, the company—and the fabled dwarven camaraderie—is what binds everyone closer together.