Deadside: Early Access Survival Crafting Multiplayer Game Launches on Steam
Perhaps 2014 was an unusual time for PC gaming. There was a strange phenomena, a syzygy of the planets that opened a gateway to the realm of the godhead and out came a numberless horde of glitchy indie early-access multiplayer survival crafting games. Patient zero was of course DayZ, whose wild success should have been the canary in our coal mine. Then came The Forest, Rust, H1Z1, 7 Days to Die, Ark Survival Evolved, and a dozen more that ironically were unable to survive. Most recent to this lineup is Deadside, which debuted a few days back.
Deadside is a game developed and published by Bad Pixel, a Russian studio new to the market. Their only previous titles were UFO Online: Invasion and some kind of VR game called Enigma, neither of which seem to have any relation to Deadside. The premise is one you’ve seen before. You’re on a big island map with abandoned buildings and wide forests. The main difference between Deadside and DayZ is that rather than zombies roaming aimlessly, there are settlements of bandits and cannibals. There are missions, which I assume are procedurally generated go-kill-everyone-here style quests, and no endgame beyond building the nicest base.
Obviously it remains to be seen if Deadside will make it. Most of the games that would have been in this genre have taken a turn for the battle royale style that PUBG and Fortnite have locked down. It’s difficult to tell whether or not a game of this nature is still viable in the market. Critical reception seems mostly positive, here on day 3. Naive players have gone into it not realizing that it is intentionally released while still a buggy mess, and more experienced players of the genre take issue with the server hosting restrictions and incomplete HUD elements. But 2,000 reviews within a week of release on steam certainly promises a lively multiplayer scene, at least for the moment.
This genre was never my favorite. I tried to review DayZ for the PS4 and found myself so pissed off at how a half decade later it still feels like the exact same broken mess as when I first played it as an Arma II mod in 2013. And yet, there is something strangely appealing about this raw multiplayer experience. The organic interactions between players in this environment navigating the broken game in unison, hunting newcomers, forming alliances, and betraying comrades, is undeniably unique. And unlike DayZ, Deadside seems to have more opportunities for teamwork, and thus more opportunities for treachery. It is undeniable that this genre lays bare the soul of multiplayer interactions, and in a way, elevates it far beyond any MOBA or battle royale.
My personal opinion for early access is to wait and see how it goes. But if you want that very specific type of multiplayer experience, Deadside is now available on Steam for $20.