Climax Studios released Bandit Six to the Daydream VR platform this week. We were curious to see how it compares to the Gear VR version, so we fired both up back to back. You might be surprised by the difference. I know I was.
Climax Studio’s Bandit Six is a first-person World War II flight combat game for mobile VR. In Bandit Six, you are the rear turret operator of a war plane, and you must defend your aircraft at all costs. You’ll face swarms of enemies in Me109 fighter planes, defend yourself from incoming missiles, and destroy V2 rockets before they reach their target.
The game features over 30 missions, and each they get progressively more challenging. The first few missions are easy to complete, but good luck getting three stars on your first run. To get three stars on any mission, you must have nearly perfect execution.
Collecting stars is imperative in Bandit Six because you need them to unlock missions. Each mission requires a specific number of stars. If you don’t collect all three stars from each mission, you will find yourself going back and grinding so you can move forward. And I’m not kidding when I say grind. Unlocking all three stars is a challenge, and in many cases, you won’t stand a chance on your first attempt.
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As you progress through the levels, the difficulty ramps up quickly, which forces you to upgrade your turret. The game features a variety of upgrades to choose from, including armor, fire rate, damage, and cooling (to prevent your guns from overheating), but understand that you will eventually upgrade everything. You have the freedom to choose your upgrade path, but be strategic about your decisions. If you make the wrong call, you may find yourself failing the same mission repeatedly until you can purchase the correct upgrade.
In my experience, fire rate is the most effective upgrade to start with. The faster you can hurl bullets at your enemies, the faster they'll drop out of the sky. The first round of upgrades won’t cost you much. The cooling, fire rate, and damage upgrades start at 50 credits, but the second-tier upgrades are quite a bit more at 150 credits, and the third-tier upgrades are 300 credits each.
Don’t worry about the cooling upgrades in early missions. Focus on the fire rate and damage. Armor is more important that cooling.
Armor upgrades are more expensive than offensive upgrades, but they're worth every penny. The first armor upgrade will set you back 200 credits, but you won’t have much success without the upgrade. I wasn’t able to complete the fifth mission until I upgraded my plane’s armor, but once I did, I completed the mission with three stars.
While you fight off enemy fighter planes, you’ll encounter slower moving cargo planes. The cargo planes don’t post a threat, so be sure to prioritize shooting down the Me109s. Don’t completely ignore the cargo planes, though--they drop power-ups that can significantly affect your success rate.
Bandit Six features eight different power-up crates that can sway the battle in your favor. Power-ups include Tool Kits, which repair your ship's health; Heavy Lead, which increases your damage rate temporarily; Cooldown, which cools your turret even while you're firing; Hellfire, which briefly but dramatically increases your fire rate; Extra Time, which adds time to the clock in timed missions; and Slowdown, which slows enemy planes to a crawl.
The game also includes a multiplier upgrade that increases the number of points you earn per kill. Apparently, there’s an Invincibility power-up, but I’ve yet to find one. Climax Studios lets you upgrade the power-ups, too. Each power-up has five upgrades to unlock. The first level of each power-up costs 40 credits, and the price goes up by 40 credits each time.
Better On Daydream Than GearVR
Bandit Six isn’t a new game. In fact, it’s been available on Gear VR since before the official launch of Gear VR, and Climax Studios launched Bandit Six on the Gear VR Innovator Edition in March 2015.
The Daydream version of Bandit Six is largely the same game as the Gear VR version, but there’s a big difference between the two. The visual fidelity of the Gear VR version leaves much to be desired, whereas the Daydream edition comes through clear as day.
For example, in the Daydream View version of the game, I had no problems seeing incoming planes far in the distance. On the Gear VR, the planes were so blurry that I couldn’t make them out until they were almost on top of me. To successfully take them out on the first pass, you must start firing before the plane is in full focus. If it weren’t for the colorful health bar attached to each plane, they would be invisible in the distance.
The visual difference between the two versions of the game is a big surprise. I would have expected both platforms to offer more or less the same experience because the two phones I used have similar displays. I used my Samsung Galaxy S7 with a 5.1-inch 1440 x 2560 display (577ppi) for the Gear VR demo, and a Google Pixel XL with a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 (534ppi) display for the Daydream View. The Google Pixel offers a more powerful SoC than Samsung’s smartphone (especially my Canadian phone, which features an Exynos SoC instead of a Qualcomm Snapdragon). I wouldn’t have expected the processor to make as big of a difference as it did.
Bandit Six is a fun and challenging shooter for mobile VR, but I wouldn’t recommend the Gear VR edition. Thanks to the clarity of the Daydream edition, the game is much more enjoyable on Google’s platform.
Bandit Six is available on Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR for $3.99. A sequel called Bandit Six: Salvo, which places you in a ground-based turret instead of an aerial turret, is available on Gear VR. Climax Studios said Salvo is destined for Daydream next week.