Category Archives: Oculus Rift

Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever Coming to Steam July 29th

Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever, the award-winning arcade light-gun style shooter built for VR, is coming to Steam on July 29.   Since its release on Oculus Quest in March 2021, Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever has:

  • Been nominated for ‘VR Game of the Year’ at the 2021 VR Awards
  • Received over 340 Oculus Store ratings with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5
  • Reached the top ten Oculus sales charts
  • Been featured twice in the ‘Games We Love’ section on the Oculus Store
  • Won ‘Best Video / Audio’ in the VR category at the 2021 NYX Awards

Features

  • Built for VR – Bringing arcade light-gun action back from the dead, and into your home
  • Bullet Time – Two headshots in a row make the world slow, use it to your advantage
  • Leaderboards – Challenge your friends, beat their times, and climb the global leaderboards
  • Weapons – Unlock shotguns, revolvers, and SMGs to set better times
  • Upgrades – Improve your weapons with powerful upgrades and perks
  • Shooting Range – Increase your skills and train up before taking on the undead
  • The Zombieland Invitational – Take on the fastest, most dangerous zombie-killing racecourse ever devised

To promote the launch of Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever on Steam, there will be a launch day broadcast of the game on the Steam store page, with thousands of dollars worth of prizes to give away.

VR arcade basketball game In da Hoop! Available Now on Steam

One month after a successful launch on Oculus Quest, Realcast‘s VR basketball game In da Hoop! is coming to Steam VR on July 21st, where it is priced at $14.99 / €14.99 / £10.99 and available for Valve Index, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift and Rift S. During the first week of launch the game will be sold at 30% off. A PSVR release is due to follow later this year. Brought to you by the creators of Just Dance, In da Hoop! uses unique motion-tracking technology with physical hand gestures to simulate the act of shooting hoops.

In da Hoop! lets you compete with your friends to rack up the highest score. Unlike real basketball, In da Hoop! lets you tweak a variety of variables for extra wacky spins on the popular sport. You can play a variety of hoop distances, positions, and movements. From Small Arcade Coin-up to Free throw Backboard. There is a Training mode with a 3-star achievement system including Tutorial levels. All levels have Combo rewards and unlocks to compete in Quick Play mode. Later on, special challenges will be added as Earthquake Basketball challenge, Treehouse Basketball shot, Bigball Basketball Shot, Upside-Down Basketball Shot, 2 Player Team Challenge, Ghost Mode, Basketball Bowling and 3 Strips Basketball Shot.

In da Hoop! features online leaderboards allowing you to compete with the global community. A post-launch update will add online multiplayer, allowing you to play directly with others from all over the world.

“We’re very pleased by the reception In da Hoop! received when it launched last month on the Oculus Quest store, so bringing it to a whole new audience of VR and basketball enthusiasts is a thrill,” said Realcast Creative Director, Diego Fernandez-Bravo. “In da Hoop! captures the sheer physicality of shooting hoops without the need for any basketball equipment. We’re excited for even more players to have a baller time with it!”

Blair Witch VR Edition Review – Oculus Rift S

I still cringe when I hear the words “Blair Witch”; partly because I still suffer from the trauma after that midnight screening back in 1999 for the original Blair Witch Project that left me stumbling out of the theater confused and nauseous, and then for several years to follow I had to review the three volume series that made up the Blair Witch PC game collection; at least those were better than the movie but not by much.  When they decided to reignite the movie franchise in 2016 I suspected a video game would spin-off from the cult film and sure enough, Bloober Team released their survival horror adventure in 2019, three years later – too late to take advantage of any theatrical momentum.

Interest in the Blair Witch was non-existent by then and with barely average scores from critics the game was quickly forgotten, which only made it more surprising when the Blair Witch Oculus Quest Edition was announced for the Oculus Quest and released just in time for Halloween 2020.  Now, several months later, that same game has arrived on the Oculus Rift and Rift S, with the hopes that a PC-driven VR experience can create a closer match to the original non-VR game from 2019.

While the Quest Edition left much to be desired when it came to graphics, this new Blair Witch VR Edition comes very close to matching the original screen version of the game, and what the game lacks in overall polish it more than makes up for with immersive 3D graphics and unique controls and interactions with objects using physical movement.  There are also numerous settings for comfort and controls like snap turning and seated or standing gameplay that greatly help to reduce VR sickness.

Taking place in 1996, two years after the events in the film, The Blair Witch (game) definitely delivered on the creepiness factor with some genuine scares and interesting game mechanics that revolved around time manipulation using the RW/FF buttons on your camcorder.  There was also a fun and comforting interaction with your loyal German Shepard, Bullet who could sniff items and track down clues to help you navigate the maze-like forest.  Bullet was also useful in keeping your PTSD in check, and there is something undeniably gratifying about being able to scratch and pet Bullet and see him respond to your affection.

So you’ll be playing as Ellis, a former cop suffering from PTSD, who is volunteering to help look for a missing boy who is lost somewhere in the Black Hills Forest in Maryland.  A large search party is already scouring the woods when you arrive at the scene, but with your trusty K9 companion you definitely have the advantage.  You set off into the woods unprepared for the supernatural events that are about to occur.  Things start off easy enough with you learning how to access and use items like your cell phone, radio, dog whistle, and later and most importantly, the camcorder.

The camcorder is probably the coolest element in Blair Witch as it allows you to view a particular area at a particular time and actually change reality by viewing events on numerous tapes you’ll find in the game.  The first example happens immediately after finding the camera when you view the footage and see a toy police car near a tent.  If you go to that same location while the police car is on the camcorder screen it will also appear in your world.  The implications are staggering and used with expert effect on future puzzles and discovery items.

Bullet is also a useful tool and easily controlled using your whistle and a radial menu of commands.  You can also have him sniff items to track down their owners, and if your PTSD starts to flare up you can always call Bullet to your side for some stress-relieving comfort.  Good doggy!  I was particularly thankful for his neon yellow collar that helped me track him in the darker nighttime sequences.

While a lot of the game relies on mood and atmosphere, all expertly crated through visuals and audio, there are several expertly placed jump scares that are made even more intense through VR.  I play a lot of VR horror games and the only thing scarier than this (for me) was Resident Evil VII.  Even in daylight, the forest is eerily quiet and easy to get lost in.  I also appreciated the game stayed rooted to the timeline with a cellphone and video camera that were suitable to the period.  Text messages and radio chatter play a definitive part of setting up the atmosphere as well as taking the edge off your isolation.

Blair Witch VR Edition relies heavily on exploration, discovery, and puzzle-solving.  There are no weapons and no combat.  Pacing can get slow at times with a lot of aimless wandering about, which can turn a 6-8  hour game into something even longer if you lose focus or miss a clue.  There are multiple endings based on actions taken throughout the game, which does incentivize future replays as long as you know which choices lead to which endings otherwise you risk getting the same ending twice.  The choices aren’t always clear.

The movement and inventory/item manipulation is intuitive with great use of the Touch controllers.  I did find the body/vest storage a bit awkward, having to look down and try to take the correct item off my vest.  Actually, it’s all these subtle item and inventory interactions that truly sets the VR edition apart from the original game by putting the player into the game, thus intensifying all of the horror elements.  A journal logs all of your discoveries and story elements, but since the game can be finished in 2-3 sessions you’ll likely never need to reference it.

I was impressed at just how good this game turned out in VR, and if it weren’t for the 2D cinema screen cutscenes one would believe this game was always intended for VR, especially when some monsters can kill you simply by looking at them.  Having to physically turn your body and avert your eyes to stay alive is a chilling concept only achievable in VR.  This new Rift edition is far superior to the Quest Edition in quality and comfort and definitely worth checking out if you enjoy VR horror, are a fan of the Blair Witch franchise, or just want to pet an awesome dog in VR.  Who’s a good boy?

Sniper Elite VR Review – Oculus Rift S

Sniper Elite has always been a fun franchise for me with each installment getting bigger and better than the previous. Sniper Elite 4 was practically an open-world game with a rich sandbox design.  Sniper Elite VR understandably reins things back a bit when it comes to size and scope, using the immersion of VR to tell a more personal and focused story with an emphasis on more realistic interactions with dozens of WWII-era weapons.  It’s a calculated risk, one that I found satisfying and more realistic than any other FPS you would play with a gamepad, but also opens itself up to the pitfalls of VR when trying to merge with mainstream gaming.

Instead of delivering a traditional campaign, Sniper Elite VR goes with the Saving Private Ryan style of storytelling; an elderly veteran looking back at his days serving in WWII as an elite sniper.  Journal in hand, you get to literally turn the pages of history as you relive your days fighting for the Italian Resistance back in 1943.  It’s an interesting way to progress the narrative as well as a fun mechanic for turning back the pages to replay earlier missions to pick-up any missed awards.

I was immediately impressed with the level of immersion, both in your quiet countryside estate hub world and when thrust into the tactical stealth and frantic combat missions.  Splash screens and mission briefs are put on a 2D screen like being at a movie theater before you are placed into a living breathing 3D world that is surprisingly detailed, loaded with wartime clutter and debris, interesting architecture, lush outdoor environment, and claustrophobic interiors.  Obviously, it lacks the pristine shine we’ve come to expect from non-VR shooters like the recently released Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2, but it gets the job done and is one of the better looking VR games I’ve played in over a year.

Sniper Elite VR offers plenty of options for quality and comfort so you can find something that works for you and your system.  My RTX3090 card was able to crank this out at max settings with all the comfort assists turned off, so I could walk and turn smoothly without snap turns or teleporting.  System requirements are fairly modest so lesser systems should be able to do the same.  The game is up on both Oculus and Steam stores, the latter also allowing you to play on other platforms like Vive and Index, but for my review I was focused solely on the Oculus Rift S.

At its core the actual gameplay is not unlike a traditional FPS as far as moving around the levels to reach your next waypoint.  Item interaction is made easy with a Jedi-like magnetic grip system; just get close enough for the hand icon to appear over an object then flick your wrist to acquire the object.  You’re wearing a combat vest that is slotted for your primary sniper rifle, a secondary weapon like a machine gun or shotgun, as well as loops for grenades, and a sidearm holster.  Accessing these items merely requires you to physically pretend to take that item from the location on your body.  Reaching over your right shoulder takes the sniper rifle, left shoulder takes the secondary gun, etc.

Sniper Elite VR can be played seated or standing and there are issues with both.  Playing seated can create some unreliable interactions with your gear like trying to take your pistol off your hip which might be “below” your physical seat.  Conversely, playing standing up creates a disconnect since you still must press the stick to crouch rather than simply crouching yourself, which only changes your viewpoint and not your ability to move silently.  There is also no way to support your weapon to steady your aim either by using an object like a crate or railing or even going prone.

Sniping is the reason to play this game and it’s handled brilliantly with a working sniper scope that you must hold up to your eye and look through.  Squeezing the left trigger holds your breath and zooms in a bit closer, also revealing key red targets like explosives and even grenades on your enemy’s belt.  Fuel cans, ammo crates, and event TNT you can toss into the battle are all ready to go BOOM with just one precision shot.  You can toss grenades after pulling the pin, use bottles as distractions or sabotage a generator to make loud noises to mask your shots and even toss landmines into the patrol path of an enemy soldier.  You’ve even got a grenade launcher you can use to take out groups of soldiers and technical targets.

The real joy of the gameplay is in the somewhat realistic handling of these weapons; certainly more realistic than pushing a button on a gamepad to reload.  In Sniper Elite VR you must perform all the moves like taking out the empty mag, grabbing a fresh one from your ammo belt and inserting it before working the bolt to chamber a fresh round.  This process varies among weapons.  To add even more authenticity every bullet counts, so you can’t simply reload in mid-combat and preserve the ammo you had left in the previous clip.  If your MP40 had 5 rounds left you just tossed them.  This even carries over to looting enemy soldiers, as their guns will only have the bullets in them that they didn’t already shoot at you.  Even firing your weapons is going to require some realism that traditional games seldom demand.  You’ll need to grip most weapons with two hands; sure you can fire that machine gun with only one hand or even wield two at once, but your bullet spray will be wild and worthless.

There are a variety of mission types that have you moving around complex levels engaging in a lot of stealth, while other times you might be surrounded and need to unload a few mags into nearby approaching soldiers.  The AI is shockingly good with soldiers locking in on your position, repositioning, flanking, taking cover while reloading, and even seeking elevated sniping positions of their own.  I truly missed having a spotter, as I would often have some sneaky bastard shoot me from behind while lining up my next shot, although if you have a landmine you can protect your six that way…at least once.  One of my favorite missions was having to clear out a cliff-side sniper nest then using that location to defend against waves of incoming enemies trying to loot a crashed plane.  That mission singlehandedly used just about every game element Sniper Elite VR has to offer.  I even got to hit one guy on the head with a hammer while he was taking a piss on a wall.

In addition to all the fighting and killing there are some collectibles in each level to remind you that you’re playing a game.  You can shoot glowing eagle statues, find Lost Letters, and collect a bunch of scarves.  Each mission also offers up a few challenges that will reward you with gold stars like getting so many headshots or killing soldiers with explosions, etc.  All of this is documented in your journal, so you know what needs to be done if you are trying for perfect completion.

For those of you who are aspiring med students or just fans of anatomy you’ll be sure to enjoy the infamous kill-cams this franchise is known for, now 10x as visceral thanks to their updated 3D graphics in VR.  You now get to see bones shatter, lungs deflate, kidneys rupture, eyeballs implode, and gallons of blood spray from your precision shots, all complemented with horrific sound effects.  You can dial down the frequency of these kill-cams and even toggle a camera that follows the bullet.  Despite these momentary interruptions to the game flow I still find these kill-cams highly rewarding.

Expect a solid 10-15 hours knocking out the 18 missions that make up the campaign, and add a few more if you are going for all the gold stars.  There is plenty of death and retrying; sometimes due to player incompetence and other times to weird stuff that just happens in VR.  Most missions have at least one radio that serves as a checkpoint, so you seldom have to replay too much of a level.  It’s worth noting that collectibles aren’t saved as you get them, so they must be collected again if restarting from a checkpoint.

I had a real good time with Sniper Elite VR.  As a fan of the series and a career military sniper I found this to be an interesting attempt to add some much-needed realism to the genre, and VR is the perfect way to do that with the physicality of the Touch controls and the added immersion of actually being placed into this virtual recreation of WWII.  There is still room for improvement, but this is a great step in the right direction and totally worth your time and money.

Ragnarock Review – PC VR

In a world where VR rhythm games like Beat Saber, Synth Riders, and Audica exist, it should come as no surprise that Ragnarock would join the genre, but what did surprise me was just how awesome it is.  Back in 2019 I got a small taste of virtual drumming in Drums of War, but that game used drums as a means of locomotion and attack.  Ragnarock takes drumming back to where it belongs; music…freaking awesome music…music I never knew existed but now I can’t get enough.  Apparently there is this whole genre of Celtic rock and Viking heavy metal filled with blazing guitars, angry vocals, and even bagpipe solos.  Throw in some heavy metal pirate sea shanties and you have 30 of the most eclectic and addictive songs that ever made up a music game’s soundtrack.  I can’t wait to see what they add as more music is coming.

Ragnarock is delightfully simple to learn and I fear impossible to master.  Even on Rock Band I was only able to master the medium skill level on drums, but the music here is fast and furious and unrelenting from the start.  Each of the 30 songs has three difficulty tiers and each of those is awarded bronze, silver, and gold medals based on your performance.  At the time of this review I just finished my first Lv5 song with a bronze medal.  I’ve earned silver on a few lesser ranked songs and have bronzed the entire track list, but it wasn’t easy.  The one thing I have noticed though is that you do definitely get better with practice.  When I first started playing Ragnarock I was falling short of the bronze, but after a full week of playing I am now coming within just a few meters of the silver and gold finish line.

WanadevStudio has created something really special here, and it all begins before the music even starts.  Ragnarock immerses you in its world with a charming menu hub that grants you access to the song list, tutorials, settings, and leaderboards.  A rack of unlockable hammers is off to your left and a large exit door on the right lets you leave the game when your arms turn to rubber.  You can scroll the track list and preview a song by clicking on it before choosing one of the three numbered difficulty tiers, each with its own bronze/silver/gold medal award display.

Once you’ve picked your jam you’ll find yourself behind a set of drums at the stern of a Viking longship with an eager crew of burly warriors ready to row in sync with your awesome beats.  Perhaps the feature that really sets this game apart comes next; the comfort customization which will definitely factor into how well you can play the game.  This quick multi-step process can be completed before each song, which is great for dialing in your perfect setup or quickly adapting to anyone else who might want to sit in for a few sessions. You can easily re-center the drums, adjust their height, adjust the hammer angle, and even reposition the shields (cymbals) on the left and right edges.  It might take some tinkering to get it dialed in perfectly, but your scores will improve when you do.

Once the actual game begins you see a stream of runic symbols start floating toward you in four lanes just like Guitar Hero or Rock Band.  All you need to do is hit the proper drumhead as the rune passes over it.  The symbol is momentarily etched into your drum to show if you were early, late, or perfect with your strike.  As with any music game you are rewarded with perfect hits and lengthy combos that all fuel into your hammers combo energy that can be unleashed as a temporary speed boost for your ship.  After hitting enough sequential runes your hammers and shields will start to crackle with energy.  All you have to do is smack one of the shields to surge your ship forward, but there is some tactics involved because you can choose to continue to build up even more energy for a much greater speed boost, but know that if you miss a single rune you lose any energy already built up.

Even the scoring system for Ragnarock is tied into the theme of the game.  Rather than a simple progress meter or digital scores and combo meters each performance is ranked on how far your ship travels during the song.  The more notes you hit, the more accurately you hit them, and the number of combo boosts you trigger all help you reach the bronze, silver, and gold markers at the end of each journey.  Replaying tracks will let you race against a ghost ship that represents your best previous performance with your split distance shown on the bow of the ship.

It could take a lifetime to master the 30 songs that make up the game’s soundtrack, so you might want to mix things up with some multiplayer action.  Yes, you can play public and private games with up to six players.  Honestly, it’s the same experience as playing alone only you have other boats on the screen to distract you, but it’s still cool they included it.  And if you ever get tired of the included music you can use the track editing tools to import music from your own song library for play in solo mode.  So there is plenty to keep you busy outside the core solo experience.

Ragnarock achieves legendary status not only with its epic song list but also in the way the note streams were created for each song so that no matter what skill level you are playing the hammer strikes always fall on a beat.  There is a lag offset option you can adjust if the music isn’t syncing with the video.  Once you find your groove and become one with the song it’s almost like the rune stream stops telling you when to hit the drum but instead, which drum to hit.  The game even carries over some real drumming techniques that will give real-world drummers a definite competitive edge.

Ragnarock is exhausting and the game even warns you going in that you should probably loosen up before playing.  Arms, wrists, elbows all start to turn to rubber after an hour or more.  The game can be played seated or standing and is available for all the major VR systems.  I played on the Vive and the Oculus Rift S and found virtually no difference with the quality of the game.  The Vive wands felt a bit more natural like I was holding actual handles on giant hammers, but ultimately the Oculus Touch won me over with lighter controls and less chance of slippage when my hands got sweaty.  Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any version of this game.

Words and screens cannot possibly communicate just how awesome Ragnarock is, so here is a trailer that showcases some gameplay and music, and as cool as this trailer is the game is infinitely better when you are actually playing it.  If you love a primal soundtrack loaded with heavy metal and rock and roll and miss the days of Rock Band and Guitar Hero then Ragnarock is a must-own title for anyone with a VR setup.  It’s simply glorious!

Ragnarock, the rock / metal multiplayer VR rhythm game is available on Steam today – Oculus Quest release coming soon

Independent French studio WanadevStudio is pleased to announce today the release of Ragnarock  the rock / metal-oriented VR rhythm game, on Steam. Budding Vikings  can now enjoy both the single and multiplayer modes.

Ragnarock is a single-player and multiplayer VR rhythm game in which players take on the role of Viking captains competing against each other in a frenzied longship race. Equipped with their hammers, they must strike the rune drums in rhythm, playing music ranging from Celtic rock to power metal, in order to move their ship forward.

Fun and stylized art direction inspired by Norse mythology transports players to Viking lands through six different environments. Only the most experienced will be able to collect all of the gold medals, beat the best scores, achieve unparalleled combos and put their name on the leaderboard.

The cross-play functionality promises intense battles between players of different platforms. In single player mode, the most fond of competition will be able to face ghost ships.

For its deep multiplayer component (up to 6 players), Ragnarock and its innovative racing concept received the ETR community best multiplayer VR game award developed by a French studio.

New additional content

Because music is the heart of a rhythm game, the teams at WanadevStudio are happy to confirm the availability of 6 new epic tracks in addition to the previous 24 songs already playable in the early access version.

Among the novelties, the prestigious group Alestorm continues its collaboration with Ragnarock by adding a new anthem to the game. German group Saltatio Mortis lands two other tracks, and the nervous French Ultra Vomit also joins the long list of participating bands. Finally, Sabordage enhances the playlist with a new custom-made Pirate-Metal track that promises to be sensational!

Players will also be able to enjoy a new playable environment: Muspelheim, the world of fire, realm of the giant Surtr …

Many new features to discover, train with, collect and have fun with

Unlock achievements to get great rewards like collectible hammers, enter training mode to practice the toughest passages, communicate with Vikings using the new emoji device and challenge thousands of other players online thanks to multiplayer mode.

Only a few more days before the Quest release!

Ragnarock will be released very soon on Oculus Quest! The developments are currently being validated and the game should be available initially on the App Lab.

The game is available for a suggested retail price of € 21.99/$19.99 on Steam.

Speedy Gun Savage Early Access Review – PC VR

This is an Early Access Review and as such opinions are based solely on the state of the game at the time of review and subject to change as development progresses leading up to final release.

Speedy Gun Savage is an entertaining new VR arcade game that hearkens back to the classic coin-op days of Time Crisis; you know the genre, the on-rails shooter that automatically propels the player forward from one cover spot to the next for fast and furious shootout encounters.  In this game you’ll be playing as an intergalactic bounty hunter, as you travel to three unique planets, each with its own army of enemies you’ll need to defeat leading up to a planetary boss fight.

Originally released to Early Access back in April, the game was pretty rough when it debuted so I decided to give it a few months to sort itself out.  Thankfully, there have been a couple patches since then and I’m happy to say that even in this stage of development there is still considerable fun to be had with Speedy Gun Savage.  Available on Steam, you can play this wild and crazy shooter on the Vive and the Rift.  I tested both and ultimately settled on the Rift S version as my favorite due to more comfortable controls and slightly improved visuals, but both versions are nearly identical in every other way.  The Oculus Touch controls do feel a bit more natural than the Vive wands when wielding your weapons.

So you play as Wolf, equipped with dual wielding pistols and shotguns or you can whip out the big gun and unleash a stream of deadly machinegun fire.  Your faithful companion bot 3V4N (Evan) is always floating nearby to offer insight and comedic relief to the situation.  Speedy Gun Savage is designed to be a very approachable rail-shooter with colorful art design, interesting levels, amusing (and dangerous) enemies, and a great UI with intuitive icons and collectibles.

The game flows nicely with Wolf moving from cover to cover.  Once in position several enemies will appear, some in towers, some standing in the open and others tumbling side to side or right at you.  There is a nice variety of enemies between the stages and planets.   Giant insects are mixed in with cowboys while crazy skeletons will fire flaming arrows or rush at you strapped with explosives and drones will zip around overhead.  Environmental targets are scattered about along with power-ups for health and ammo.  During these shooting encounters you are “stuck” to your cover but can freely move side to side or physically look up and over or beneath certain cover items using your body.  In one early level there was a gap under the rock, and I was able blast the ankles off two cowboys.  There is definitely a bit of tactics involved in prioritizing enemies, shooting the suicide bombers before they reach you and trying to shoot archers and gunmen while they are reloading.

Once each encounter is cleared you activate the nearby traversal icon and you automatically start to move forward until you get stuck behind your next bit of cover.  During this forward motion you can move side to side and even stop short of your next encounter by moving behind an object in the level.  You are free to spin completely around but enemies don’t seem to appear from behind, although you can turn and shoot any missed power-ups that are still in range.

There is a fair but steep progression of difficulty with a lot of trial and error to figure out the best pattern for killing enemies even when some encounters do change up, mostly based on your location behind the cover.  For instance, the suicide bombers will always appear and approach based on which side of the cover you are hiding.  Static enemies like snipers in towers and archers will always appear in the same place so you can learn and get better.  Also figuring out which weapons work best against certain enemies and situations also comes into play.  Aiming is challenging since there is no floating reticle, and you must use your tracers to zero in on your enemies.

The visual design for Speedy Gun Savage is really fun and colorful with great enemy designs, animations, and details.  The characters and environments are very nice with a visual step-up from cel-shading but still maintaining an original artistic flavor stuck between reality and graphic novel.  The UI is non-invasive with your health meter built into your wrist and your ammo count displayed on the guns. Your spaceship provides a fun hub area between levels/worlds, and there is even an arcade machine to offer up some classic high scoring gameplay for the leaderboards.

Speedy Gun Savage can be played seated or standing, but as the levels progress you’ll probably want to stand so you have more flexibility for peeking over or kneeling behind cover.  The game can get quite physical if you let it.  The game does support Room-Scale but aside from moving around behind cover this is very limited as everything is on rails.  As mentioned earlier, the Touch controls feel more natural when using the guns, but both systems offer excellent tracking and accurate aiming.  Even your body/head is tracked so you can dodge the slower incoming projectiles just like in SUPERHOT.

I had a great time playing Speedy Gun Savage and I look forward to seeing how it all progresses leading up to launch.  Fingers crossed for more planets and enemies as this did feel like a taste of a possible larger game, but even at $10 you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.  The devs seem to acknowledge feedback and several updates have fixed and even added new content like the new quick draw Duel Challenge.  Another great update is the Wave Challenge where you can freely move about without sticking to cover objects as you face off against wave after wave of enemies.

If you are craving some awesome arcade shooting action then no need to wait for Speedy Gun Savage to come out of Early Access.  It is totally playable and totally awesome in its current state and likely only going to get better over the coming months.  Definitely worth checking out if you have a Rift or Vive.

We’ll be back to update our review when the game officially launches.

SWARM Review – Oculus Rift / Quest 2

SwarmVR (or just SWARM) is a fantastic game both in concept and execution; a game that really only works in VR partly due to the first-person perspective but even more thanks to the dual Touch controllers that seamless integrate your hands and arms into the thrilling gameplay.  Taking place above shark-infested waters, bubbling lava, toxic clouds, and other instant death scenarios, you will find yourself swinging around like Spider-Man while simultaneously blasting waves of enemy drones, upgrading new weapons and collecting all sorts of crystal shards.

The tutorial is very informative and even continues into later mission as new concepts are introduced.  At its core SWARM is easy to learn and challenging to master.  You basically point toward any of the available grapple points to connect your bungee-like cable then pump your arm to increase tension and propel yourself forward and up.  You can use one or both hands simultaneously for more stability and greater elasticity/momentum, but you generally need to keep one hand free to fire your blasters at the circling drones.  There are brief moments where you are simply flying unattached and can unload both weapons into the swarm of bots.

Learning out how to swing is half the battle, but it only takes a few missions to figure out this dynamic and once you find your flow the experience is exhilarating.  Your grapple needs to periodically recharge, which means you have to alternate hands or find moments to propel yourself high enough to fly untethered while the meters recharge.  It’s a clever method to keep you from simply hanging from a single platform and shooting.  The game progressively adds more features and abilities like being able to point and zip to a grapple point or even an enemy.  The zip feature is a lifesaver when you start swinging too low and start touching the water or other game-ending surface.  Once you figure out how to rapidly change directions or increase your speed with dual grappling, the possibilities are endless.  It is worth noting that the game is a bit more physically demanding than a lot of VR titles, and while it can be played seated you might want a swivel chair.  The game is very circular with you constantly flying past your targets and needing to quickly reverse direction (this can be automated in the options).  SWARM is best played standing; just don’t get tangled in the cord, as you will be spinning around a lot.

The combat is just as exciting as the swinging with a variety of weapons that offer a satisfying targeting mechanic.  You have formations of enemy drones, often with a red enemy that will explode taking out any others around it.  Drones appear from one portal and fly around for a few seconds before exiting through another.  You also have medium and larger drones that will simply hover and take shots at you; the latter launching seeking missiles that will track you until you shoot them down.  The largest drone has multiple target spots that need to be destroyed, while smaller and medium enemies can be targeted and zipped into for instant destruction.

SWARM looks great with a stylized cel-shaded design that combines plenty of level detail with fun enemy designs and comic-like explosions.  It’s the perfect mix that allows for fast and fluid framerates with virtually no motion sickness; even with all the quick 180-spins and fast turns.  There is this illusion that you are stationary and the world is moving around you, although the game does make use of graphical effects like streaking particle effects and wind currents to help with the sense of movement and direction.  The visuals are backed up with a quality audio component with great music and sound effects.

Presented as a pure arcade experience, SWARM doesn’t have much of a story.  Instead you are presented with numerous stages, each with various challenges and objectives and all being scored and ranked on leaderboards, which adds a bit to the addictive nature of the game if you are competitive in that way.  This is definitely a game that you get better and score higher the more you play, so even after you do work your way through the lengthy list of levels there is plenty of reason to replay and do better.  It’s worth noting that SWARM is a cross-buy title, so one purchase gets you playable copies for both Rift and Quest.  While most of my review time was spent on the Rift S I did test on the Quest 2.  I did enjoy the freedom of no wires, but the connected PC version seemed to offer better performance and overall visual clarity than the Quest 2 version.

SWARM certainly sets itself apart when it comes to VR traversal, especially after playing Yupitergrad, which also features a similar grapple mechanic only more puzzle and less combat.  The feeling of moving about the levels, swinging, launching, falling was thrilling and when you factor in the intense combat this is one VR shooter you don’t want to miss whichever headset you own.

Moss: Book II Revealed, Quill returns!

Quill is back! And she’s journeying deep into the hexed castle of the Arcane in Moss: Book II, the highly anticipated follow-up to the smash hit VR game Moss. At the Sony PlayStation global State of Play livestream today, Polyarc revealed that Quill’s adventure is far from over and teased a greater danger from those who seek to unmake the world we’ve grown to adore.

“We were blown away by the reception from fans to the Moss story. Players built an extraordinary bond with Quill. Countless emails, tweets, streams, and fan art postings made us feel like we had created something special,” said Josh Stiksma, principal software engineer and design director, Polyarc. “We’ve since poured our hearts into ensuring Book II is a worthy continuation of Quill’s journey, and hope fans around the world are ready to join Quill in the next chapter of her story.”

Moss: Book II builds upon the story set forth in the platinum-selling Moss video game that ranks as one of the all-time top-rated VR games to date. Having rescued her uncle Argus, Quill’s adventure continues with the revelation that a winged tyrant is hunting her within the hexed castle where her uncle was held captive. But Quill has a plan of her own, one that could finally end the merciless rule of the Arcane and save the world from a great unmaking. Lined with dangerous terrain, challenging puzzles, and enemies twisted in fire and steel, the journey will be trying—filled with triumph and heartbreak alike—but new allies, old friends, and the very nature of the castle itself can offer you help along the way.

“In Moss, players not only guided Quill throughout gameplay, but they also reached into the world as their own character—their every action had an impact. Players return to this role in Book II and it’s our hope that they are once again reminded of the joy of physical interaction and the power of emotional feedback they can experience within VR,” said Stiksma. “And it’s that immersion that makes the journey feel all the more real and the stakes even higher.”

With the announcement of Moss: Book II, Polyarc now sits alongside a select group of VR development studios to have announced a sequel release. Further cementing its place among distinguished video game developers, Polyarc has received more than 80 global industry awards and nominations for Moss from notable organizations such as BAFTA, The Game Awards, E3 Game Critics, D.I.C.E., GDC, Golden Joystick, and the Annie Awards.

For more information, visit www.polyarcgames.com and follow Polyarc’s social channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.