Darwin Project, from Scavengers Studio, was announced all the way back at Microsoftâ€™s E3 2017 press conference but has finally launched in full as 14th January 2020.
A battle royale that sets itself apart from the rank and file of the genre with some neat ideas, it could be the breath of fresh air you need if youâ€™re burned out on blue circles and looting for twenty minutes only to be eliminated.
Weâ€™ve put together a brief guide to the title below, so you know what to expect if you start playing on PS4, Xbox One and Windows.
What is Darwin Project?
A ten-player battle royale set in a post-apocalyptic mountain area, Darwin Project places a greater emphasis on survival mechanics than sniping enemies from a distance.
Wait, ten players?
It may seem strange to consider a ten-player match a battle royale title, especially with Fortnite and PUBG dropping one hundred players into a game, but Darwin Project is closer to something like the Hunger Games.
Players are dropped into a cold landscape thatâ€™s made up of seven regions - each offering a different biome. Thereâ€™s lush forests, volcanic lava-filled areas, and chilly stretches of snowy tundra.
As a match progresses, the play zone shrinks - like any other battle royale.
(Credit: Scavengers Studio)
So, itâ€™s just a smaller scale battle royale?
Where things get interesting is the addition of an eleventh player that acts as a Director - able to influence the match by calling out player locations, supply areas, or even trigger explosive deaths via missile attacks.
In fact, they can bestow items directly to the battlefield as well - which means they can directly encourage more aggressive play from cowardly players, or simply punish players they deem to be unsporting.
The Directorâ€™s input can often influence the outcome of a game, but thereâ€™s still plenty of skill involved - despite a lack of weaponry.
Wait, what do you mean lack of weaponry?
Players spawn with an axe and a bow, and will need to upgrade each as things progress. Youâ€™ll need to craft items like traps, as well as fresh arrows for your quiver.
(Credit: Scavengers Studio)
In a battle royale landscape where players can expend all the ammunition they want in many titles, tying offensive abilities to resource management is a brave move - but one that makes everything feel tense.
Armour needs to be crafted too, but crafting takes time so youâ€™ll need to have eyes in the back of your head.
So just kill nine others to win? Sounds easy!
Woah there, itâ€™s not just nine enemies and the whims of the Director that youâ€™ll be battling against. For one, itâ€™s cold - so youâ€™ll want to find coats and build fires to stay warm (with the latter offering a clear indication of your position).
Youâ€™ll want to unleash your inner Bear Grylls, too - with animals to hunt for bonuses and stamina to conserve.
Ok, Iâ€™m sold - how can I play?
Luckily for you, Darwin Project is a free-to-play title - so you can download it on PS4, Xbox One and PC for no cost.
Unfortunately, thereâ€™s no cross-play at present, but you can create a custom mode with just friends - meaning you can battle to the death with just people you know, something you canâ€™t do in other battle royale titles.
Now, if youâ€™ll excuse us we have archery practice to attend to.