During E3 Judges Week, Oculus held a preview event to demo three upcoming Rift-exclusive titles: Arktika.1, Brass Tactics, and Lone Echo. We had the pleasure to check out all three of these games, as well as record our own gameplay footage.
It’s like Metro, But in VR!
The first title we checked out was Arktika.1, a first person shooter developed by the folks at 4A Games, whom many of you might be familiar with if you’ve played Metro 2033 or Metro: Last Light. Sure enough, the setting and general mood held a ton of Metro’s DNA. The demo takes place in the colony of Arktika.1 in the Vostok region. Unfortunately, our footage didn’t record correctly, but we’ve attached stock B-roll below.
Our demo took us through the introductory vehicle ride and target practice, which we covered in a previous article. However, this demo sent us on a different mission that took place in an abandoned facility filled with bandits and monsters. There were numerous enemies, so we had to utilize cover effectively. Teleporting from point to point confused the enemy bandits, so we teleported often to catch our foes by surprise.
As we passed from room to room, we were presented with a number a quick puzzles that had to be solved before we could progress. Using the Touch controllers, we scanned the area for any object that might be of use, or any data terminal that could provide us clues, until we reached the end of the level. Our demo ended after we cleared a large, multi-tiered room full of regular soldiers and snipers. The snipers were tricky to deal with, as they can spot you wherever you teleport, so knowing when to engage them is crucial.
It’s A Tabletop Simulator, But in VR!
Next, we tried out Brass Tactics, a real-time strategy game developed by Hidden Path Entertainment, the studio behind Age of Empires: II. The gameplay borrows elements from traditional tabletop gaming and adds an RTS twist to it--which we discussed in our previous coverage of Brass Tactics.
Basically, you play on a table stylized as a map, and your objective is to destroy the enemy's keep on the opposite side of the table. You do this by sending unit squads consisting of (but not limited to) Archers, Warriors, and Cavalry, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Along the way, you'll encounter enemy structures that spawn additional troops, so you’ll need to take care of those first to get anywhere close to the enemy keep.
Creating units and unit structures requires gems and ore, which are automatically gathered by captured areas. You can also use your resources to build structures in your keep, which grant your units bonuses. For example, Warriors can be upgraded to Veteran Warriors and eventually Voltaic Warriors, with additional health and attack power with each promotion. Other keep structures, such as the Blacksmith, increase ore production. As our match dragged along, we amassed a sizeable amount of troops and pointed them straight to the enemy base, eventually winning through attrition.
It’s like Quidditch, But In Zero-Gravity!...In VR!
Finally, we got our hands on Lone Echo, a survival-adventure game that takes place aboard a space station. You play as an Echo unit, a robot with a variety of skills suited for Zero-Gravity functions. At least, that’s what we expected based on our previous hands-on experience. However, we were treated to an extremely different experience; after all, if you have access to autonomous humanoid robots that excel in Zero-G, why not aim those skills at more...impractical uses?
The control scheme is rather Iron Man-esque, although you control your propulsion by aiming your arms where you want to go rather than aiming away from yourself, which is counter intuitive. The developers told us that they made the decision because, apparently, holding your arms behind you can get pretty uncomfortable after a while.
We found the first minute or two to be somewhat nauseating. It's the classic vestibular problem: Your mind thinks your body is flying through space, but your body is very much grounded in the real world.
Once we were acquainted with the controls, we entered a match of Echo Arena, an-in universe sport that involves Echo units floating around a closed arena and trying to toss a Frisbee into a goal. Sounds simple, right? Indeed it is, if all you’re used to are ground-based sports like soccer or basketball that involve gravity. However, you play Echo Arena in Zero-G, which allows you to move forward and backward, side-to-side, and up and down.
Matches involve two teams of three players who must work together to get a Frisbee into the opposing team’s goal. You can defend your goal by catching the Frisbee, but you can defend (or attack, rather) by stunning enemies. To do so, you clench the grip and index triggers to form a fist, then swing at an opponent's head. If your punch lands, the enemy will be stunned, and they’ll drop the Frisbee if they’re holding it. If you find yourself under attack, you can clench both fists and hold them in front of your face, protecting yourself and stunning your would-be attacker. Couple this with boosting and Frisbee tossing, and you’ll have yourself a ton of Zero-G shenanigans.