By Andy Brown
Plaguefall, the name of Deep Rock Galactic‘s third season, tells you everything you need to know about the procedural co-op shooter’s next story. Just when you think health and safety standards can’t slip any lower in this world’s mining operation, a plague-ridden comet falls to the planet of Hoxxes IV – and if that wasn’t enough, an infectious new species of monster hitched a ride on it.
While Deep Rock Galactic‘s expeditions are procedural, your pre-mission map will highlight which deployment areas are currently infected. If you choose to land in one of those locations, it won’t take long before you run into a corrupted spot: the rock beneath your feet teems with boils, and everything’s tinged a sickly green. It looks great and feels very thematic, but the real sign that something’s off is that many of Deep Rock Galactic‘s standard enemies have turned into oozing zombie-like creatures.
While infected enemies are far more resilient than their healthy counterparts, aiming for their weak spots – plump boils across their bodies – makes short work of them. Hitting these spots is crucial if you want your ammo to last the entire mission, and because Plaguefall tasks miners with additional missions on a run-through, staying well-supplied is crucial.
Besides not dying, your job in Plaguefall is twofold. On top of your usual hunt for riches, players now have to clean up infected areas and if possible, mine the offending meteor for riches. As disgusting as the first task sounds, it’s incredibly satisfying. An orbital resupply grants your team with a foam gun and industrial hoover – the first is for lathering up the contaminated rocks with a thick froth, and the hoover is for sucking it all up. For a game that’s all about blasting hordes of enemies and getting rich, the mundane cleaning is immensely satisfying – and while it still involves fighting off monsters until the corruption is gone, the tidying elements quickly became my favourite part of Plaguefall.
With the increased workload, it’s only right that each dwarf class gets a new grenade. While none of the four new gadgets actually explode, the Gunner’s Tactical Leadburster comes closest – a spinning projectile that vomits bullets like the world’s smallest, least-accurate sentry gun. The Scout’s Voltaic Stun Sweeper is a little bit more subtle, with an electric boomerang that can bounce between foes if you angle it right. However, my favourites were the Engineer’s Shredder Swarm and the Driller’s Springloaded Ripper. The first unleashed a host of tiny, flying drones to attack your enemies, while the second is a nasty sawblade contraption that cuts across walls, floors and ceilings like a Bomchu from The Legend of Zelda.
When all of these new features come together, Deep Rock Galactic is pure carnage. On top of trying to meet your employee’s standard mining quota, there are so many new threats to manage: it’s bad news for our favourite space dwarfs, but the new content is packed with entertainment value – meaning it’s great news for players.
Season 3 of Deep Rock Galactic is set to launch on November 3 for PC, and November 17 for Xbox and PlayStation.