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'Damaged Core,' A VR Take On The First-Person Shooter

We saw several different types of games at the Oculus Content Showcase at GDC, including a tower defense-style title and a third-person adventure, but I was hungry to try out a first-person shooter, too. FPS is one of the more obviously attractive types of games for virtual reality, and High Voltage Software is attempting its own virtual reality take at the genre with Damaged Core. You play as a lengthy section of computer code, and you have the ability to kill your robotic enemies by taking over their bodies and using their weapons to eliminate other foes around you.

Jump Around

The game’s tutorial provides an example of the mechanic in action. You enter a large and spherical camera, which serves as a safe spot for the player, as it’s constantly located high above the action. If you’re taking too much gunfire and need to take a break from the fight, you can take over a camera, watch the action from above and plan your next move.  

When you need to take part in the fight, you can simply look at an enemy robot and take over its body. You can then use its weapons against other foes. However, your robot isn’t invincible and will eventually die from taking too many shots, so you have to eventually pick another enemy to possess. The entire game functions around this mechanic of continuously hopping from unit to unit to take out as many enemies as possible.

Testing It Out

The short demo showed two major firefights. In each setting, a small fleet of camera units were lined up in the air on the side of the battlefield. From this vantage point, I could see the wave of enemies arriving to destroy a plane attempting to take off. Slowly but surely, I would take over multiple bodies and kill as many enemies as possible. If I was accurate enough, I could even zoom in on a target and aim (with my head) for a one-shot kill.

To keep the combat interesting, there were variations of enemy robots. There were faster units with shotguns and tougher foes that you couldn’t possess as they had some type of jamming device with their system. There was even a massive “boss” that appeared. Before you could take over its functions, you had to destroy certain parts of its armor. After that, you could use its suite of bombs and lasers to easily wipe out enemy forces. 

At some point, the action can get very intense, and you can’t pay attention to your own health bar. The amount of damage is displayed as a series of red circles will light up around you. Take too much fire, and you’ll die as you hear the sound similar to a computer shutdown while the screen fades to black. Throughout the demo it became too difficult to even notice my depleting health because I was so busy killing all of the enemies around me. By the time I wanted to return to a camera and survey the field, I was already dead.

More Like A Turret

One of the many characteristics of a first-person shooter is the constant need to move around the area to avoid gunfire. You can sprint, slide and take cover to gain the advantage in the firefight. Damaged Core also features movement, but it’s a strange variation compared to the usual run-and-gun tactics. Once you take over a robot, you’re stuck in a fixed position and you try to eliminate as many enemies around you before moving to another location. In this regard, it feels more like a turret-based game instead of a first person shooter. In that regard, the game has some traditional elements from the shooter genre, but it's still a far cry from the Call of Duty or Battlefield series.

In a way, then, the game is a perfect fit for VR. Many developers, including High Voltage Software, are still in the process of learning the best method for games in virtual reality. There are some elements that wouldn’t have the same effect on PC and console platforms, and what Damaged Core has to offer could only be possible in the world of virtual reality.

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  • hausman
    Can you please re-brand Tom's Hardware as Tom's VR World? Because that's 90% of your content these days.
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    Can you please re-brand Tom's Hardware as Tom's VR World? Because that's 90% of your content these days.
    well that's the tech world right now and probably for the next few months as these products are front and center.

    so you can see yourself out if you don't like it
    Reply
  • quilciri
    SUPER.....HOT
    Reply
  • megahustler
    Paradroid 2016
    Reply
  • hixbot
    OK, When this whole VR headset started to culminate into FPS games I knew this would be the problem - how to move, aim, and shoot. I knew developers would find it difficult to achieve what people expect.

    Here's what people expect for the words 'Virtual Reality' FPS to be lived up to:
    1) Aim only the character's perspective with your head (camera)
    2) Aim your gun seperately with your hands.
    3) Movement is "not on-rails".

    In traditionally controlled FPS games your cross-hair is locked to the center of the camera. If you given a headset and played a game like that, you will get very tired of having to aim the gun with your head. And it isn't realistic.

    So the challenge for developers is to create a new input method that lets you move, and aim your gun, and camera-look with your head at the same time, while seeming like "virtual reality".

    That, my friends will be a long time coming. A VR headset without the rest, will be disappointing. That's why we're now hearing about VR interactive movies and on-rail turret games etc. This is when they hype dies off. VR isn't ready yet.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    Can you please re-brand Tom's Hardware as Tom's VR World? Because that's 90% of your content these days.

    Hah, we know, we know. It's just that VR is happening NOW, and we're covering it as best we can. Look, we're out at GDC, and GDC is all about VR this year. So.
    Reply
  • picture_perfect
    Here's what people expect for the words 'Virtual Reality' FPS to be lived up to:
    1) Aim only the character's perspective with your head (camera)
    2) Aim your gun seperately with your hands.
    3) Movement is "not on-rails".

    That, my friends will be a long time coming.

    Not sure what you mean. The Oculus touch and VIve conrollers track seperate from the headset and the Omni treadmill is the first solution for locomotion. Games like this...yea I think Oculus made a mistake not including their controllerss at launch.
    Reply
  • alidan
    OK, When this whole VR headset started to culminate into FPS games I knew this would be the problem - how to move, aim, and shoot. I knew developers would find it difficult to achieve what people expect.

    Here's what people expect for the words 'Virtual Reality' FPS to be lived up to:
    1) Aim only the character's perspective with your head (camera)
    2) Aim your gun seperately with your hands.
    3) Movement is "not on-rails".

    In traditionally controlled FPS games your cross-hair is locked to the center of the camera. If you given a headset and played a game like that, you will get very tired of having to aim the gun with your head. And it isn't realistic.

    So the challenge for developers is to create a new input method that lets you move, and aim your gun, and camera-look with your head at the same time, while seeming like "virtual reality".

    That, my friends will be a long time coming. A VR headset without the rest, will be disappointing. That's why we're now hearing about VR interactive movies and on-rail turret games etc. This is when they hype dies off. VR isn't ready yet.

    simple, your head should be where you aim,
    if you add eye tracking, the majority of aiming should be eye tracking, with fine tuning being mouse based.

    there you go, fps genre is working for vr.

    your body, is always forward though, so it would work semi tankish... think of controlling a third person action game, thats how movement should be but first person.
    Reply
  • paladinnz
    Here's what people expect for the words 'Virtual Reality' FPS to be lived up to:
    1) Aim only the character's perspective with your head (camera)
    2) Aim your gun seperately with your hands.
    3) Movement is "not on-rails".
    Valve already has this with HL2 and Team Fortress 2 but one of the problems is motion sickness. Having played HL2 on my Rift DK2 everything looked really cool but in situations where you are doing a lot of running and gunning or jumping, it can start to feel pretty bad.
    This is why we are seeing a lot of VR FPS games where you are pretty much fixed to a spot or on rails (constant velocity movement isn't to bad, it the start/stop/acceleration that does it). Nothing would be worse than lots of users shelling out $500 only to find that they feel sick whenever they use it, that would hurt VR pretty bad I think.
    Reply