Darwin Project steps into the Xbox Game Preview and Steam Early Access program later this week. We figured it’s a good time to take a look at this “The Hunger Games meets PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”, and the new twists it brings to the Battle Royale formula.

So how does Darwin Project hope to separate itself from the likes of PUBG, Fortnite and the recently announced Fear the Wolves? That is exactly what we’re trying to figure out here, and this gameplay highlights video is a good place to start.

Scavengers Studio, the team behind the game, tries to raise Darwin Project above the others by approaching the tried-and-tested formula from a new angle – one that makes perfect sense when you think about it.

The game drops 10 players into an arena of a twisted reality show, where they need to fight each other to survive the long cold night. They can do so by foraging for items around the arena and craft them into tools, traps and perks – all to ensure they will be the one to survive.

Until now, the game sounds like any other “Battle Royale” game in the genre (albeit with much few players). The twist comes from the game being a reality show. The player can experience each round either as a Contestant, the “Show Director” or a “Spectator”.

Part of the show

The game takes place in the Northern Canadian Rockies. A new project, which supposed to be a science experiment and live-entertainment is launched as a preparation for an impending Ice Age. The arena is set as a dystopian post-apocalyptic landscape and is supposed to be treacherous, harsh with extreme freezing cold.

As a Contestant, your role is quite simple: you are one of 10 players fighting in the arena.

Darwin Project Contestant

Each player starts the round with an ax and a bow (like a regular Katniss) and can search the arena for different parts that will allow them to craft tools that will provide an advantage.

These tools include shield protectors, clothing to help protect against the cold, and of course, turrets and traps to kill other players.

Each action, like foraging, crafting or lighting a fire, will leave a trail behind you that other players can use to track you down for a few seconds. As in other games of the genre, the arena will shrink in size as time passes by, forcing players closer and closer until the inevitable showdown.

Directing the action

If you choose to be the Show Director, you will be the host of the match. You will be using a streaming platform to broadcast the game to others, as you operate a drone hovering above the arena.

The Director can interfere with the game by using the different tools at their disposal. Nukes, gravity bombs, closing off parts of the arena and so on. The Director’s toolbox is unlocked via a progression system and has the potential to greatly affect the outcome of the match.

Like in Hunger Games, the Director asks the Spectators to help him decide where to deploy his tools, helping or hurting the Contestants.

Basically, your role is to keep things going while making sure to provide commentary on what is going on. A sort of gamemaster-announcer hybrid, if you will.

Darwin Project Director

Since Darwin Project is an Xbox One console exclusive, Mixer is integrated into the game. But you can also use Twitch or Youtube if you prefer. It’s good to see that the developers took into account that many gamers enjoy watching other players playing a game, and made an integral part of the experience. It is a reality show, after all.

Grab the popcorn

Gamers watching the live stream of their favorite streamer/Director can still play an important part in a match as Spectators.

Each time the Show Director is about to use one of their powers, they can initiate a voting process. Spectators will then vote on which Contestant should feel the effects of said power, thus helping or hurting their chances of survival.

It’s not a very active part, but it’s still nice another nice way Darwin Project integrates the whole live streaming phenomenon into its core gameplay.

Darwin Project is due to enter Early Access on March 9, on both PC and Xbox One.

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