Drones are coming in from everywhere now, it's a total ambush. I take a deep breath as my turret swings far left, and eliminate the squadron closest to me with ease. Missile warnings on my HUD let me know I'm far from safe, but with another drone wave coming up from beneath me I need to choose my targets wisely. The turret swings far right to deal with the incoming missiles, and there's just enough time left as the last one explodes to activate my shields. The glowing orange grid flickers to life as the first pulse impacts the glass but the three other rounds are reflected back at the now retreating drones, taking two of them out in the process. Just before I move the turret into place to eliminate the other two drones, a massive ships flashes into place in front of me.
As I reload, I swipe up on my Daydream controller and let my fellow Gunjacks know I'm going to need them to lend me some additional firepower for a moment. Cannons light up from all around me, and as the massive vessel explodes its support drones jump in for a last attempt to take me out. Unfortunately for them, my Smart Bomb just finished charging.
The legacy continues
Few companies have adapted to VR quite as well as CCP Games. The way the Eve universe has expanded through Gunjack and Valkyrie on just about every VR platform has been nothing short of impressive. Both of these games work well on their respective platforms, and are a ton of fun thanks in no small part to the amount of effort the CCP team has put into making them fun. With Google Daydream, Gunjack players now have something that wasn't universally available on the Gear VR — a way to disconnect where you are looking and where the weapons are aimed.
Aiming with your hand instead of your head makes Gunjack 2 a lot more dynamic, but it's far from the biggest change to gameplay. The new energy system takes that award, and it's well deserved. Instead of needing to collect individual items or bits of shattered ships for armor or abilities, every action in the game charges a system you can use as you see fit.
Shields are available just by tapping the Daydream touch panel, and the first two seconds of every shield deployment will ricochet energy weapons. It takes a little practice, but being able to accurately bounce enemy fire back at your targets without needing to move your turret cannons is a ton of fun.
Repair is the first special function you can charge up, and as long as you have enough energy stored you can repair your pod at any time by swiping left on the Daydream controller.
Special weapons change depending on the mission you are on, but frequently includes the ability to task other Gunjacks to shoot down anything in your sector for a few seconds. The massive cannon from the first Gunjack also makes an appearance in this mode occasionally. Special weapons are accessible when fully charged, which only happens after Repair has been fully charged.
Smart Bomb still lets you annihilate everything in front of you, but in Gunjack 2 it's something you need to use more sparingly than you would have in the original. This weapon is only available after the first two have fully charged, and when you use it your energy meter is all but toast until you destroy enough drones to build it back up.
This new system makes it possible to plan out your mission activity instead of relying on seemingly random item drops. You're going to need a fair bit of strategy, because right out of the gate Gunjack 2 is a lot more challenging than the original.
More ways to play
Gunjack 2 starts off similarly to the original, with a campaign mode that lets you explore the universe and shoot a whole lot of enemies. This time, there's a bit more story and a ton more interaction with the world. Each mission starts out with a cut scene that introduces you to new characters and helps set the tone for the mission ahead. The cut scenes are full 360-degree, so you can look around and really explore the ship you are on from time to time.
Gunjack 2 improves on the original in every way.
What you won't get from the campaign mode is a score to let you know how well you did and rank your performance in a leaderboard. For that you're going to want to turn to the Daily Shift. These are missions ranked by difficulty and scored like the original game, with scores submitted to a global leaderboard you'll be able to use to claim superiority over your friends. Gunjack 2 will also have a Challenges mode available soon, but was not quite ready for us to check out during the review period.
The separation of campaign and scoring gives you a lot of space to focus on attack strategy without pressure, which makes a bigger deal in this game than most. Learning how to best use your shield will ultimately lead to a higher score, and making sure you aren't accidentally activating the shields when you want to deploy your special weapon is the difference between angrily swearing from inside your headset and pulling in a top spot on the leaderboard. It's also great to see Gunjack 2 slowly encouraging players to explore more of the Eve universe, even if it is mostly from a seat at the card table in between shifts.
One of the best
Gunjack 2 improves on the original in every way. It's more exciting, more complex, more personal, and a whole lot more fun. It flawlessly demonstrates what makes Google's new Daydream platform great without feeling like a silly controller tutorial, and should absolutely be one of the first games you add to your library.
- Solid fun gameplay
- Plenty of missions
- Actual campaign mode with story
- Sometimes a swipe is registered as a tap
- In-game music can be repetitive
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