Archangel: Hellfire Review – PC VR

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the original Archangel game’s release on PC, a truly inspired mech assault game that made the most of VR tech. While Archangel did a fantastic job of immersing you as a pilot of a skyscraper-sized walking tank, the on-rails linear gameplay design had many gamers losing interest after completing the rather short story. Now, a year later, Archangel: Hellfire is here to update that core shooter experience with a full-blown multiplayer expansion that will keep you strapped into your VR gear for countless hours.  The following review covers the new multiplayer modes of Archangel: Hellfire.  If you want our thoughts and score for the original story mode please read our Archangel review from last year.

While playing the original game is not required it is recommended if for no other reason than to get you familiar with the controls and UI of the game. Hellfire does expand upon those core concepts a bit, and it’s all explained in the Hellfire tutorial. New concepts like power management add greatly to the realism and the strategy of the game and brought back fond 90’s memories of X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter diverting shield energy to the weapons, etc.

Hellfire takes the game off the rails, allowing you free movement across the battlefield in four well-designed maps complete with destructible terrain. You have six mechs to choose from along with more than a dozen weapons, six special abilities and numerous ways to play.   Traditional deathmatch allows for 2v2 and 1v1 play, or if you get tired of killing other players try teaming up with them in the 4-player co-op Mech Assault mode, which is basically one big wave shooter survival game. My only issue with this mode is that the difficulty seems set and locked for four players, so if you attempt this with only two or three players games don’t last very long.

Hellfire has been out for a few weeks and during that time I had no trouble when matchmaking. There seems to be plenty of people playing, but I wasn’t seeing any type of actual skill-based matchmaking going on, so you often get a varied group of deadly killers and clumsy noobs in the same match. The game supports in-game chat using the Rift’s mic and headphones; useful for coordinated teamwork in both Mech Assault and Team Deathmatch.

The Steam version of Archangel: Hellfire supports both Vive and Rift, and for reasons I made clear in my original review, I totally prefer the Rift experience almost entirely due to the Touch controllers which offer a one-for-one immersive control when playing the game. The way the Touch wraps around your wrists has you believing you are piloting a giant mech versus the awkward realization that you are holding these large Vive wands is a constant reminder you are playing a game. Everything else about the two versions of the game are identical, but it is all about control.

The one thing I did notice is that overall; the visuals aren’t quite as good as the original single-player game. I’m guessing that by taking the game off the rails the designers weren’t able to put as much detail into the open world as they could when your path and view was predetermined. The game still looks great and you won’t have time to study the details once the battles commence.  The interior cockpit designs, environments, animations, and all the special effects are outstanding.

Archangel: Hellfire is a fantastic update to an already-amazing game that just goes to prove that some developers actually do listen to their audience. The inclusion of both the original on-rails story-shooter along with competent, fun, and challenging multiplayer game makes this a must-own title for any VR gamer with dreams of piloting their own mech.

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