The Big Picture: Christmas, Combat and The Culling 2016

It’s hard to believe that almost one year ago we decided to go the route of Early Access for The Culling. After working on the project for a little over six months we realized we had something that could be very special on our hands. Our 16-developer studio had a 16-player game that we playtested several times a day, quickly making it our favorite competitive title.

We realized that our 16 individual opinions about aggressive, player-versus-player combat were simply not going to be enough. Despite our collective years of experience, it was clear that we needed to include more viewpoints if we were going to make any changes with confidence. Hence the decision to release in Early Access - a choice that would afford us not only the freedom to experiment, but the opportunity to refine.

Since that initial release of The Culling, we have always worked hard to make it a more fun, engaging and meaningful experience. Sometimes we got things right, sometimes we got them wrong. There is no doubt this game is in a much better state than it was nearly one year ago, thanks in large part to the feedback from the community, confirming that Early Access was definitely the smart decision.

This January we will reach a milestone in our development. It’s a giant step toward what we would call our “1.0 Release” of The Culling, a goal that we’ve been striving towards for quite some time.

As we approach that exciting group of features and additions, we wanted to take one more hard look at our melee combat experience - something which has been hotly debated topic since people started playing the game. In looking back, we see one glaring truth that stands-out:

Players spend too much time “disabled.” It’s as simple as that.

The fact that a basic attack can easily lead to a hard stun is so utterly disruptive that it is simply not fun. Not for new players, not for skilled players, not for anyone. According to our data, the average melee fight in The Culling lasts about 30 seconds. We estimate that players spend about one-third of that time completely stunned. We need to reduce the number of those disruptive moments to improve the overall experience.

So this leads us to two significant changes for our last update of 2016. Although the changes themselves are small, we think they will have a big impact on combat in a positive way.

First, we are removing the hard stagger associated with attacking a Block. Blocking a melee attack will still stop all damage, but it will no longer stun or disable the opposing player.

The second change is that players can no longer interrupt the charged Power Attacks of other players. When an opponent charges a melee attack, your only recourse is to block, leading to more exciting moment-to-moment confrontations.

All other aspects of combat remain the same. In our early tests in the studio we found these two changes to be incredibly positive to the overall experience, even at this preliminary stage.

Now, we want to put it in your hands to see what you think.

We just ask one thing: If these changes concern you, play before you judge. Bring your constructive criticism to us with some time spent playing with the new changes. It will make that feedback much more effective.

With this patch we wish you all Happy Holidays. Expect to hear more about it soon.

We look forward to seeing you during the break as players and after the break as we work to finish-up our exciting new features we will bring you in January.

Signed,

Xaviant CEO
Michael McMain