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For six of the eight players in a Project Winter team, the goal is surviving a chilly wilderness long enough to escape. For the other two, the goal is deception: it's about blending into the team and then, when the moment presents itself, betraying your allies, stopping them from escaping. It's a fascinating concept, and this week it finished its three-month Early Access stint with a 1.0 update that added new weapons and maps.
The new weapons are the crossbow and the tranquilizer gun, both of which are near-silent ranged weapons. The tranquilizer is particularly interesting for traitors because it will stop players using proximity chat, text chat or radio chat when hit (emotes will still be a comms option). If you're one of the two traitors—both know who the other traitor is—it could be a last-ditch option for silencing anyone that rumbles you, stopping them exposing you to the rest of the team.
One place to find these new weapons will be the armory, a new building that only spawns once per map, and has a high chance of containing ranged weapons. The 1.0 update also adds three new maps, each with potential sabotage spots.
The dev team at Other Ocean Interactive says they'll be slowing down new content releases to monthly, rather than every two weeks, to give them "a bit more breathing room and [to] make sure we release polished features". Bug fixes will come more regularly.
The next major update, in which they're aiming to improve repair objectives, add ragdoll physics, give each player a stats page, and more is scheduled for June 20.
At a glance, Project Winter is reminiscent of The Long Dark, but surviving its low-poly snow fields is only half the battle. At the beginning of a game, two of the eight players are designated as traitors. They each know who the other traitor is, and are tasked with preventing the group from escaping. The non-traitors must suss them out before being shot in the back.
It's a fun-sounding idea, though a tough design challenge. Playing the similar party game Mafia (or Werewolf) is always a good time, but I've never been all that attracted to digital versions of the game, because lying directly to your friends' faces is where the fun's at. In that respect, Project Winter provides multiple communication avenues: "proximity-based voice chat, private voice chat radio channels, text chat, and emotes."
A lot of Project Winter's success will hinge on the effectiveness of those tools and the quality of the playerbase. It's a game that's easy to ruin, since it relies on everyone committing to acting.
Right now, reviews are mixed on the Early Access version, but it seems like many of the complaints are simply that there aren't enough players in the game, not that Project Winter fails in its execution, which is promising.
Recent reviews are more positive. When Project Winter releases in 1.0 form on May 23, maybe it'll get a little boost in player count. We'll plan to check it out then to see how it's come along since its Early Access launch.
Mafia, Werewolf, Kane and Lynch 2 multiplayer—deception and paranoia are great fodder for games, so I’m rather looking forward to Project Winter’s upcoming beta weekend. The game of co-op survival and backstabbing launches in Early Access next week, but first it’s hosting an open beta from tomorrow and ending on February 3.
Stuck in a chilly wilderness, eight players will need to work together to fend off bears, gather supplies, make repairs and, if they’re lucky, escape with their limbs and lives in tact. Unfortunately, not everyone is in it together. Lurking among the survival buddies are two traitors with a single goal: stop the others from escaping. Check out the gameplay trailer released a couple of weeks ago.
This sounds very much like my kind of thing. Communication is key, says developer Other Ocean Interactive, so players will be able to use proximity chat, emotes and walkie-talkies to stay in contact even when they’re out chopping down trees alone. Expect arguments, accusations and murder.
You can sign up for the open beta here, and Project Winter will hit Steam Early Access on February 7. The plan is for it to run for three to six months, adding polish, additional map layouts, new items and more.
Co-op survival games, as the name suggests, generally require players to work together in order to avoid the grim specter of death. Project Winter is a little bit different. The cooperative angle is there—eight people have to pull together to gather resources, repair structures, and complete other tasks to stay alive in the midst of a ferocious, freezing snowscape and ultimately make their escape—but two of them are actually conspiring in secret to murder everyone else.
The "traitors" in the group will start the game in a relatively weak state, so they won't be able to immediately go to town on everyone else. But they'll gain strength as the game progresses, and more importantly they'll be known to each other from the start, so they can more effectively coordinate their mayhem.
All players will be able to communicate through proximity-based voice chat and private "radio" channels, as well as text chat and emotes, which will facilitate survival and murderous duplicity in equal measures. And trying to sneak away and escape on your own won't get you far: Even if the traitors don't gank you once you're safely out of sight (and the proximity-based chat means you can forget about screaming for help), the harsh environment and dangerous wildlife will.
"Unlike other survival games which you must stay alive to win, in Project Winter you require the cooperation of other players to help you make it out alive," Other Ocean Interactive boss Ryan Hale said. "In-game player communication is a key element to playing the game, in which no one can be trusted."