Disclaimer: This preview is based on an in-progress 'Early Access' version of Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, using an HTC Vive.
Ahead of buying my first virtual reality headset, there were few games that truly caught my eye. Only a small number of titles were taking advantage of the HTC Vive's room-scale feature and those with great game mechanics were even less frequent.
One of the most intriguing of those titles was Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades – a first-person shooter sandbox packed to the brim with guns and explosives. Unlike other shooters at the time, which strived to create neon-lined digital worlds, Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (also known as H3VR) focused on delivering realistic first-person gunplay.
In its current state, H3VR's main concept provides simulations for a range of varied weaponry and explosives. With a majority of its content based on shooting ranges and the game's lack of a multiplayer mode, H3VR sets out to be a slow-paced, static FPS. In recent updates, this focus has started to shift, however, with the introduction of more unconventional experiences such as Grenade Skeeball and the 'GUNasium'.
A whole armory at your disposal
I could easily spend a majority of this review going over the huge list of weapons, ammunition types and gadgets on offer in H3VR. With an overwhelming collection of arms from the outset and more promised to arrive soon, it's clear the developer isn't looking to wind down on production any time soon. Despite the increasing quantity of weapons coming out from the studio, each gun that hits the title still manages to feel both unique and robust.
"Some situations suffer after being abstracted for the HTC Vive"
One of H3VR's most outstanding elements is the game's ability to take advantage of the HTC Vive controller's form factor. Between the size of the controller and the placement of various buttons, operating each aspect of weapons feels natural and intuitive. Gun levers, hammers and fire modes can be easy accessed on the fly, thanks to the effective mapping of gun components to the controller's layout. Despite the numerous complexities of each weapon, these have been mostly tweaked to accommodate a controller input.
Despite their efforts, some situations suffer after being abstracted for the HTC Vive controller. Interacting with smaller buttons, objects, and attachments can be a hindrance at times, due to the lack of precision offered by the controller. These issues only affect a small portion of the overall package, but add unnecessary frustration to the experience.
Adding to this, H3VR struggles to convey feedback to the player when interacting with items in the game's world. Without physical contact with the weapon itself, a disconnect is felt when using more precise components away from the trigger. This unresponsiveness leaves many weapon interactions feeling hollow and is a further hindrance to more finicky aspects of the game.
A bucket-load of lead and the taste of freedom
When H3VR first made it way to Steam via the Early Access program, the package suffered due to a lack of content and engaging experiences. While the team had managed to create a truly unique and refined shooter for the HTC Vive, it surmounted to nothing more than a mere tech demo.
"Recent updates have started to build upon H3VR's eccentric personality"
Over time the game is continuing to develop, with new weapons and features being frequently added as a part of the developer's promised weekly updates. Over the course of compiling this review, a new update has just dropped which adds four new polished weapons, new ammunition types and a range of other improvements.
While a similar story goes for the game's levels, recent updates have started to build upon H3VR's eccentric personality that once made it unique. Stepping up from explosive bananas and cyber handguns, recently added levels move away from traditional shooting ranges in pursuit of a more unusual locale. From a gymnasium combining acrobatics with warfare to a grenade-themed skeeball map, H3VR has started to hone in on its more outstanding and replayable features.
Hot Dogs, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is one the HTC Vive's best action-oriented experiences, with great gun mechanics and attention to detail. Across the game's expansive arsenal of weaponry, each gun and gadget has prominent attributes that manage to convey a noticeable change in handling and aesthetics. In its current state, the game might not offer a wide range of replayable content but continues to move in the right direction.
- Outstanding use of the HTC Vive's features
- Robust weapon mechanics
- Frequent updates with substantial amounts of content
- Guns sometimes feel hollow
- Lack of replayability in its current state