Riot Shield OP

BREACH IT Early Access review: A new playground for cops and robbers

Let's knock down some walls.

This review was conducted using an HTC Vive. Breach It will also work with Oculus Rift, although it is not officially supported.

I'm alone, crouched next to the bomb I'm tasked with protecting. My teammates are either dead or too busy listening for footsteps to respond to my radio call. All I can hear is the beeping of the timer on the bomb. The team attacking our compound has only a few minutes left before the explosion. I hear a footstep outside of the door I earlier boarded up. Another footstep. Is it a teammate walking outside? A sledgehammer comes crashing through the plywood. Here we go.

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Breach It appears to have what it takes to make a great VR shooter

Immediately likened to Rainbow Six: Siege, Breach It (we will forego the all-caps formatting from here on out) uses the same attack and defend gameplay that's proven with the former title to be a massive hit. While Breach It is nowhere near the same quality of detail or polish that Rainbow Six: Siege has, you have to remember that it's an Early Access title. What does that mean? It's been released in an early stage in order for the developer to get valuable feedback (and valuable dollars) to continue building the game.

Breach It has some of the key elements Early Access games are often painfully missing: a strong set of basic mechanics, a relatively bug-free environment, and an active, responsive developer who asks for feedback from the community. These are all very good things.

Having been released May 30, 2017, Breach It is still pretty bare when it comes to gameplay. There is a single map that is recycled for each round (the bomb moves around to a random location), there are a couple walls of weapons that come stock with different attachments and skins, and there are a few tools that the attacking team can use to breach the compound and the rooms within. After playing a few rounds, you'll feel like you've seen almost everything there is to see.

The good news is that in the first three days following the game's release, there were as many updates fixing some pretty major issues that players reported, as well a fourth update a couple of days later. Things like model clipping, control schemes, and ease-of-use issues found only in VR (like how high fresh magazines sit on your hip) have been addressed first in order to make the game as much fun to play as possible. For that, props must be given to the developer. As long as the updates keep rolling out, Breach It can only get better.

Breach It is an arcade FPS that runs well even at this stage

One of the first things you'll notice about Breach It after playing a few rounds is how well it runs. Frames are steady, and I've yet to see a crash after playing for hours.Sure, it still needs a lot of detailing and could use some work on the graphics, but as it stands now it's smooth and judder-free. Because it's a tactical shooter where seconds make a difference, this is super important.

Other popular VR shooters, like Onward and Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, definitely go a lot deeper when it comes to weapons and their use. Here you don't get to choose your loadout, you don't get to manually switch fire rates, and you don't get to manually rack the action.

You do, however, get to use both hands to hold the gun, and you have to manually eject and insert new magazines when you run out of ammo. Anyone who finds Onward a bit too complicated or simply anyone who prefers more of an arcade feel will love Breach It. To practice the motions, there is a large area in the lobby where you can board up doorways, breach walls, and practice your aim.

How the matches and rounds work

Matches are played three on three, and it takes four round wins to win a match. Each side has a short amount of time to prepare. Attackers need to choose their loadouts, including riot shields, C4 explosive, and sledgehammers, while defenders must fortify their positions by nailing up plywood — you must smack nails with a controller for the wood to appear — and erecting steel barricades on weak walls. Once the round starts, attackers have six minutes to either eliminate all defenders or defuse the bomb.

The compound that's being attacked has a bunch of rooms in it that the bomb can potentially be in, so each round does initially feel a little different. Movement is handled with standard locomotion — no teleportation here. For many of us, that's a good thing, but for others, the lack of teleportation will mean a pass due to the nausea involved.

Attackers work together, knocking down walls and barricades and sweeping rooms to ensure that no defenders are hiding behind any desks or filing cabinets. Gameplay at first seemed a little stale, but the more I played, the more I appreciated the slow pacing and the eventual crescendo of explosions and gunfire as the final showdown begins.

There are also times when you'll find yourself in a one-on-one situation, which is where I found the most adrenaline. Trying to decide if you should defuse the bomb or look around the last corner never seems to get easier.

Breach It has a few nagging issues that will turn some players away

Because Breach It is an Early Access title, it's hard to knock it for its weaknesses, especially when the developer seems to be working hard at getting things on track. Regardless, there are a few standout issues that should be mentioned.

Games are hosted locally and there is no migration function, so if the host of the game has to leave, you're dumped back to the main menu. That's not a terrible issue and it's one that many games suffer from, but when you kill the host a few times and they get mad, they can leave and shut the entire game down.

Riot shields for the attacking team seem to be a bit overpowered. They can be switched out to a rifle immediately, meaning an attacker can wait for you to expend your magazine or wait until you're distracted and immediately whip out their gun to shoot you.

Finally, radio communication is spotty, and it's still unclear which team is talking since you can hear all communication. Included in the fix will hopefully be a way to switch radio channels because chatting with the other team between rounds is a lot of fun.

Breach It is worth the price of admission

At only $9, Breach It is a title any fan of first-person shooters should support as soon as possible. This type of gameplay — attackers vs. defenders in a fortified compound — is nothing new in the normal PC gaming world, but in VR it's definitely a first.

Yes, it has its fair share of flaws, but Breach It delivers some solid team-based play that really gets the adrenaline flowing. It might not take long to feel like you've seen everything there is to see, but once you have that first game where your team is actually working together, I can almost guarantee you'll be coming back for more.

While the game has only been out for about a week, developer Domas Sabockis has been on top of user suggestions and is apparently busy implementing them. If updates continue to roll out and the player-base continues to grow, there's no doubt that Breach It will become something special.

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