Project Winter is a survival game that focuses on teamwork and deception. The first game that comes to mind as a comparison is Among Us; both built around working together to accomplish a goal, while a couple of players work to sabotage things. They also both have crossplay, so console players can play against PC players. But beyond these basic similarities, Project Winter is a completely different and unique game.
There are survivors and traitors in Project Winter. The survivors work together to try and escape the remote wilderness, while the traitors work to sabotage and murder the would-be survivors. There is a proximity voice chat, as well as a text chat for communicating, along with radios that can be used to communicate with other players from a distance. The voice chat is a crucial part of the game because talking to other players is essential in finding out people’s guilt or innocence.
Each lobby can consist of up to eight players, and once everyone joins the game can begin. Everyone will spawn in a cabin together and this will serve as the operations hub for the round. Here players can craft items, warm up by the fire, and cook food to keep themselves alive. Venture outside and there will be a basic map that shows some locations and trees and rocks to punch to collect materials – you know, standard survival stuff.
In each round, there are a couple of tasks to complete, which can range from simple repair jobs where everyone will need to collect resources, to more elaborate ones such as the dig tasks where you have to investigate pictures to find out where repair parts are hidden on the map. Once all of the tasks are done the survivors can call in rescue to win.
While this is going on, the traitors are working to stop them. They can do this by sabotaging tasks that have already been completed, placing traps to slow down the rest of the players, and even resorting to murder should the opportunity arise. The traitors win if all of the survivors fail to live up to their namesake, while the survivors actually have to finish the tasks and call rescue to win. However, regardless of your affiliation, you’ll need to stay fed and warm. You can do this by foraging for berries or hunting for meat, and hanging out in the cabin. You can also make a fire kit to warm up in the wilderness, but it won’t save you during a blizzard.
The map in Project Winter is randomized for each game so that different areas will appear in different places, and the resource placement will be unique. There are usually similarities between the layouts but you’ll never know what is where until you explore. The cabin will always be in the center of the map though, and there are signs that will help guide you back to it, so long as none of the traitors have messed with them.
There are also bunkers scattered around the map that will take two to three people to open; inside you can find repair parts, weapons, food, and a bunch of other random tools. These are the most effective way to find the resources you need for tasks. The bunkers can be used by anyone, including traitors, but there are also traitor boxes scattered throughout the wilderness that are only accessible to traitors – who would’ve guessed?
These boxes are much more likely to contain weapons and traps, but if you see a player opening one then it’s a safe bet they aren’t on your side, unless you’re also a traitor. There are also unique roles though, one of which is the Defector, which allows a survivor to open up traitor crates and distribute the items to the other survivors. You can then throw in other roles like Medic, Solider, and Scientist, each with their own unique ability that adds to the game. These are randomly assigned at the beginning of the game and each one adds another level of strategy.
Overall the gameplay found in Project Winter isn’t ever too complicated, and after a few games you should have a pretty good understanding of things. There is a lot that the tutorial doesn’t cover but experience is the best teacher.
It’s also worth noting that the rounds are not short. In a standard game, there is a 30-minute time limit before a mega-blizzard threatens to kill everyone, and I found myself succumbing to it more than once. Even when I didn’t, the game still goes down to the last couple of minutes more often than not.
When deciding if Project Winter is a game worth picking up there are two main things to consider. The first is, do you have a mic? As I said, teamwork and communication are essential to enjoying the game. If a player can’t discuss the objectives, defend themselves against accusations, or warn players of danger, then they aren’t going to be able to contribute much to the actual gameplay. Games without talking are quiet, there is no tension, and it’s just less fun.
There is a text chat system but I don’t think I know anyone with the patience to put the time into typing things out with a controller. If you’re on PC it makes sense, but even then a mic is really the only way to go.
The second big thing to consider is that this game is entirely multiplayer. There is no solo mode so the entire experience of Project Winter is dependent on other people being fun to play with. In my time playing this has gone a few different ways – including the really good sessions where I find a group of people that talk, are fun to play with, and really get into playing, to the point where five hours can go by and I won’t notice.
But there are also the bad sessions, such as when I searched up a quick match, found a group and the first thing I heard was, “Who the hell is this? Kick him”. I was then matched with the same group three more times before I took a break. But it was odd because you’d think if people didn’t want anyone to join they would just make a private lobby. Lobbies can even be password protected, so only friends can join.
Project Winter on Xbox is a fun game when you manage to get into a lobby with good people. It’s rare to encounter any bugs, unfair mechanics, or anything else that is capable of ruining the experience, and really the only time it doesn’t prove to be enjoyable is when you are placed in a lobby full of people that refuse to play as the game is intended. But that can be said with any multiplayer game, and it’s impossible to completely eliminate those issues. If you’re looking for an in-depth survival experience, where deception is the biggest obstacle, then Project Winter is a great game to pick up. Just keep in mind that you’ll want a mic and it may take a couple of games to get into the swing of things.