The Culling: Origins is bad. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that it’s disappointing.
I could tell things were not right from the very beginning. I began with the tutorial, something that should be simple and easy to not mess up, and played all the way through until the announcer congratulated me on finishing my training. But then it never ended. I couldn’t figure out how to finish the tutorial, so I wandered around for another 20 minutes trying to figure out what was wrong, before quitting and restarting the tutorial. I got to the supposed end once again and was never kicked out, just left wandering around the area, wondering what I was doing wrong. Eventually I just gave up on trying to get the achievement for finishing the tutorial and moved on. But what awaited me afterwards was even worse.
The first thing players will notice right off the bat is The Culling’s horrible monetization method. It’s “free to play”, but not really. Assuming you’re playing the regular free version of The Culling, you get to play one match per day, and after that you have to pay to play some more. Even worse than that, I was playing on the paid edition of the game and even then I was only allowed around 20 games before I had to pay again. More games are bought with tokens, which cost real-world money. This feels ever so sketchy and desperate to say the least, but what makes the money-grabbing attempt even sadder is that the game isn’t even worth playing.
The Culling: Origins is not anything terrible – it’s just very generic and painfully average. Matches start as you might expect, with you dropped in on a large map with several other players; the last one to stay alive wins. The game can be played by yourself or in duos, as you run around a large area scouring for items, weapons, and FUNC, which is a currency used to open and call in supply crates.
What separates The Culling from others in the genre is that there is an emphasis on crafting weapons and healing items on your own. And it also provides a heavy emphasis on melee combat as effective long range weapons are few and far between. For most of the time, players attack each other with knives, hatchets, pitchforks and spears.
However both of those defining characteristics are flawed and neither are implemented well. Crafting generally seems pointless and a bit of a waste of time, as much better equipment is easily found throughout the map if you spend just a little time searching around. And don’t get me started on the melee combat, it feels beyond clunky and not satisfying at all – floaty and impotent – like you’re always swinging at air. And this is truly unfortunate because this is the majority of what you do in this game. But when you do find a gun or a bow it’s a massive relief, because you’re finally free from using your crappy knife or spear.
Even some basic mechanics of the Battle Royale genre feel flawed here with The Culling: Origins. The closing off of the map is much too slow, and more often than not I was left wandering around in second or third place, with multiple minutes left, well before the gas even began closing in. In addition, the time it takes to be able to really equip your character with anything decent takes forever – sometimes I felt like I couldn’t find anything. Progress throughout a match just feels stunted and incredibly slow compared to its contemporaries.
For most of the time I have spent with The Culling: Origins on Xbox One though, I just felt bored. There’s practically no background music or sound effects to speak of, so often I was simply wandering around a forest in complete silence, wondering what I was doing with my life and debating why anyone would want to pay for more matches of this.
All of this is supplemented by a poor technical performance, at least on the original Xbox One. I encountered constant frame rate drops and ridiculous amounts of texture pop in every single match.
It’s not all bad though, and both the maps available are well-designed, interesting and fun to be in. It just might be the game’s strongest aspect. The customization is deep too and offers a great amount of items to progress with, despite being hindered by a randomized loot box system. Plus, the half-baked survival mode is actually not that bad, and can provide some minimum enjoyment.
The Culling: Origins is not the worst game I’ve ever played – in fact it’s not even the worst Battle Royale game I’ve ever played. But it is damn close. It’s so painfully mediocre in almost every aspect that it boggles my mind why anyone would want to pick it up. This is especially true when there are a plethora of Battle Royales that are actually free and are of an astronomically better quality than The Culling. My advice is to stay as far away from this game as possible, and maybe go play Apex Legends instead.