It’s safe to say Croteam is going deep down the virtual reality (VR) rabbit hole: The independent developer that brought us the Serious Sam franchise is preparing to bring the whole series to VR.
Croteam announced its first VR title during E3 2016. The company dropped a big surprise with the announcement of Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. Croteam’s first crack at a VR title is a classic arcade shooter that borrowed elements from shoot-em-up games. Unlike previous Serious Sam games, you must stand your ground in The Last Hope. Every other entry in the franchise is a fast paced twitch shooter.
Fans of the classic Serious Sam games weren’t impressed with The Last Hope. Croteam received an abundance of feedback calling for a locomotion system in the game, and even though the developer took that feedback to heart, adding locomotion to Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope would entail a complete redesign of the entire game.
Instead of rebuilding a game it just released, Croteam decided the best way to appease fans would be to port the original Serious Sam to VR. In December 2016, just a few days before Christmas, the company surprised the gaming world with a VR version of Serious Sam: The First Encounter on Steam’s Early Access platform.
The VR port of Croteam’s first game isn’t a cut-down version of the title. The developer recreated the entire game (something with which Croteam is well versed) from start to finish with a VR-compatible locomotion system. Instead of limiting player movement to teleportation, Croteam empowered players to set the locomotion method they prefer. The game supports a snap move system and a smooth movement system to give players who don’t suffer from motion sickness options to play how they want.
Croteam said the feedback it received about the locomotion system is positive, but the developer noticed that it created confusion in the market by having two games in Early Access at the same time. So how does Croteam plan to limit the confusion? By adding even more choices, of course!
Croteam announced that remakes of the second and third Serious Sam games are in the works. Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter and Serious Sam 3 VR: BFE will see the light of day later this year. The company’s other game, The Talos Principle, will also head to VR in the coming months.
The studio didn’t forget about Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. It's still actively working on the game, and in fact, the next update is imminent. Croteam said it completed development on a new planet called Shanti. The developer said the Shanti update must undergo internal tests before going public, but its almost ready to go.
The Shanti update includes a new melee weapon, a new long range gun, and a shield to help protect you from incoming fire. The new level features a new boss to defeat, too.
Spreading Itself Thin
Croteam said jumping into VR with such gusto has had an effect on the production schedule of its projects. The team is spread thin across many titles at the same time, so Croteam dedicated more people to VR development. And, despite the push to VR, Croteam said it isn’t abandoning its “flat” game projects. The company reiterated that Serious Sam 4 “is still happening.” The company’s “core team” is still working on SS4, while two smaller teams work on VR projects.
In addition to the various games that Croteam has in the works, the developer is preparing for a franchise-wide update for Serious Sam. Later this year, Croteam plans to release Serious SamFusion 2017, which is coming to every version of Serious Sam, including the VR titles.
The Serious Sam Fusion 2017 update will add SteamOS/Linux/macOS support for all Serious Sam games, and it will drop DX9 support in exchange for the Vulkan API. The new updates include 64-bit executables of the older games and support for multithreaded rendering. It also sounds like Fusion 2017 will be a big graphics update for the aging Serious Sam games. See the company’s blog post for the full list of upgrades.
The Fusion 2017 update also includes cross-platform co-operative gameplay. With the Fusion update, you can play the game in VR with a friend that’s playing on a flat screen. Fusion 2017 also adds a local split screen mode to the games that don’t yet have it (Serious Sam 3 offers 4-player split screen on PC).
Croteam didn’t provide a release timeline for any of these games and updates, but the developer has a history of working fast. Don’t be surprised if some of the updates start trickling into the wild in the coming weeks.