Deep Rock Galactic Season 01: Rival Incursion Review
Contributed by CompleteNOOB
Back in August, I wrote a post about the game Deep Rock Galactic. 97% of the reviews are positive on Steam by the way, for those of you who still haven’t tried it. Today, I want to talk about the new Season 01 update: “Rival Incursion”. The developers at Ghost Ship Games promised greatness, and they delivered. The new update finally dropped and it brings a new mission type, a new class of robotic enemies, four new primary weapons, and a 100% free season pass that offers a whole lot of new cosmetics.
A few weeks ago, automated ships of unknown origin penetrated the atmosphere of Hoxxes IV to scan it. All communication attempts have failed. They could be a rival company or a something else entirely. It doesn’t matter. They have begun prospecting the planet for precious resources. Our resources! Deep Rock Galactic isn’t going to just let them challenge its monopoly without a fight. Those machines operate fortified Data Vaults, and Management wants you to sabotage them and steal the Data Racks they protect.
They are initially sheltered by an impenetrable force field. To deactivate it, you will have to defend Hack-C while it disables each power station. This, of course, will attract the native wildlife but that’s business as usual. The vault itself, on the other hand, is protected by The Caretaker. It isn’t going out without a fight either, and you can bet it’s going to be an intense one. Radial attacks that can go through terrain, from high up to below ground level. Tentacle-like appendages will attack you from afar then act like Stabber Vines if you’re too close. The last phase will even have Phase Bombs teleport directly to you. Nowhere is safe. You have to keep moving and you have to keep shooting. And all the while, more robotic enemies will spawn throughout the fight.
Just like in Salvage missions, it is advisable to prepare the terrain. You need some safe space to resupply, as it will be a dangerous thing to do where the fighting happens. You can dig some sort of open bunker in the side of the cave for this purpose. Make sure to leave room to move around, as you’ll need it when the Phase Bombs drop. The engineer can also make a wall to provide cover from ranged attacks, but it should be low enough so you can easily see and dodge radial attacks. Deep trenches could also protect you from those, but it will make killing and dodging everything else harder, so I personally think it’s a bad idea. Being on a vantage point, on the other hand, can be an advantage, but the tentacles can stab you through terrain near the edge, where the cover is too thin. It’s still effective, especially for the engineer since it allows him to quickly take down most of the armored weak points with only three nukes, by aiming at the center of the top face. An overpass enables the driller to do the same with his Satchel Charges. The tentacles will respawn after a short time, whether you make progress or not, so avoid wasting too much ammo on them if you can dodge. Every other enemy type, however, respawn only as you progress through The Caretaker’s health, so dispatch them as quickly as possible to stay in control of the situation.
Those new enemies come in three specific types: Turrets, Shredders, and Patrol Bots. The Turrets are immobile, obviously, but deadly. Shredders are basically flying Swarmers. Patrol Bots fly around, fast, to attack you from a distance from all directions. When switching to non-flying mode, they can bump into you to deal damage and eventually knock you off a cliff. They essentially combine the worst of Macteras and Q’Ronnar Younglings (or the best, depending on how you look at it). Luckily, they tend to spawn in fewer numbers than either of those. Those new enemies are weak to melee damage, and they all die instantly when they catch fire. All four dwarves can equip heat damage on at least one of their weapons, but the Driller is especially effective, because he can make short work of them with his Flamethrower modded for range and heat.
This new mission type isn’t the only place you’ll see those new enemies. The Prospector Drone is a new random event that may appear in other missions, the same way you may get a Machine Event or a Tyrant Weed. This Drone does our new rival’s work. They prospect for precious minerals, peacefully exploring the caves of Hoxxes IV. You must destroy them on sight and recover the Data Cell they carry. Upon aggression, a Prospector will start spawning Patrol Bots and Shredders to attack you, but it will pose no direct threat to you. There is not urgency to kill it either, since it will never despawn. It will heal if it gets away, then spawn new enemies if you re-engage it, but I would still say this random event is easy enough that I wish it were a little bit harder. Although, as it is, it may become problematic if you’re already getting swarmed during an Escort mission, or if you’re running late in a Point Extraction.
Another random event was also introduced in this update. You may now encounter an isolated Data Deposit during certain missions. You can chose to ignore them or hack them the same way you hack Power Stations in Industrial Sabotage. Beware though. Failing a Machine Event isn’t the end of the mission, but if you can’t finish this event enemies will just keep spawning and spawning until you run out of ammo. This isn’t more difficult than doing it in an Industrial Sabotage, but I noticed people tend to start it a lot more recklessly during other missions. Prepare the terrain. Make sure you’re not going to run out of ammo.
The update also expands your arsenal with 4 new primary weapons:
Hurricane Guided Rocket System
The Gunner’s new primary weapon is the Hurricane Guided Rocket System. It can be built as a single target or AoE weapon. The rockets are steered towards whatever you’re aiming at, be it terrain or an enemy.
DRAK-25 Plasma Carabine
The Scout’s new primary weapon is the DRAK-25 Plasma Carabine. It’s an automatic version of the Experimental Plasma Charger, minus the charged shot mechanic. You don’t need to reload and it comes with a pretty decent ammo pool.
LOK-1 Smart Rifle
The Engineer’s new primary weapon is the LOK-1 Smart Rifle. Its smart targeting system locks on to enemies with guided bullets. It seems like a good weapon, but I find it annoying that it is semi-automatic when you are not locking on to enemies. Also, if I can have a shotgun, I prefer the shotgun.
Corrosive Sludge Pump
The Driller’s new primary weapon is the Corrosive Sludge Pump. It projects goo that slows down enemies and inflicts damage over time. I’m sure I can enjoy it, since I like to use a “Sticky Flame” build on the flamethrower. Having already seen people use it effectively, I know it can do wonders, but I’ve found it difficult to use my ammo efficiently.
I haven’t tested them a lot, and I’m still missing some of their Overclocks, so I cannot really give a detailed opinion on these new weapons yet. Nevertheless, I have already seen many people use them, which tells me that they all are viable weapons. They’ve even already gotten a few tweaks to put them on par with the rest of your arsenal.
Due to the arrival of that new rival, Deep Rock Galactic has decided to add another incentive to boost employee productivity: the “Performance Pass”. You now earn progress with each mission you play. You also get bonuses by recovering Data Cells from Rival Prospector Drones and Data Deposits. Again, you earn all rewards through gameplay and it is completely free. As you unlock your way through the 100 ranks, you get access to many new cosmetics: new beards, hairdos, and helmets, new victory emotes, a new set of pickaxe parts, and paintjobs for both your weapons and your armors. Furthermore, it rewards you with “Scrips”, a new resource which is, and I’m quoting one of the developers, “a bullshit company money” that allows you to buy even more cosmetics. Those include a new set of weapon skins, with the advantage that you can choose what you want to unlock first.
Unlike most battle passes, this one is completely free and can only be unlocked through gameplay. Season 01 is expected to last 4 to 5 months. Knowing that some later players would miss out on some of the rewards, the developers have already stated that they fully intend to make all of them available to earn in-game in some other way after they get replaced with new rewards that will be coming in Season 02.
Finally, the update brings the game’s fifth paid cosmetic DLC, “Rival Tech”, inspired by the new robotic enemies. It includes a skin for every weapon, a set of pickaxe parts, and a new paintjob for both your weapons and your armors. Just like with previous paid DLCs, this one is purely cosmetic. You only need to buy the base game to enjoy all the gameplay. This DLC is just a way for you to show your love to the devs.
And if you’d like to see all this in action, here is the narrated trailer: