My mech is spent. Red warning lights are everywhere. Armor gone, rockets reloading, and there are two enemy units a few meters away with crosshairs trained right on me. My partner's railgun flashes bright yellow, and suddenly bright blue sparks start to fly from the closest unit. The second my rocket reload finishes, my body slams back against the chair as my mech runs forward and unleashes everything at the remaining target.
The rain of sparks and smoke tell me I've succeeded and it's ok to relax a little, but as my robot torso rotates left I see two more units inbound. This is so very far from over.
Welcome to War Robots VR
With over 10 Million downloads on Android alone, it's safe to say War Robots is successful because the game focuses on quick, decisive combat. In the mobile game, you roll out with a crew of six and do your best to wreck the other team before they take you out. It's fast, fun, and ruthlessly addictive as a mobile game, but how do you expand that universe to include VR players? The short answer is putting players inside the cockpit of these devastating robots instead of just viewing them from above, and it works well.
Pixonic nailed motion and combat controls for War Robots VR.
Mechanized combat and virtual reality go together like peanut butter and jelly. The natural immersion afforded by feeling like you're sitting inside a giant robot looking through a handful of small windows in front of you while explosions erupt all around you is a lot of fun, but not easy to do well. If you over-complicate the experience, the only people who will play are those willing to shell out for full HOTAS controllers to push immersion even further. If you over-simplify, the game stops being fun as soon as the sense of immersion fades away. The good news is Pixonic nailed motion and combat controls for this game, and offered up a visually pleasing ride through lots of combat.
Currently, War Robots VR gives you a pair of control options. You can either rock a mouse and keyboard, or you can grab your gamepad. Your hands control the legs of the mech and the big guns it has equipped, while your head controls where the crosshair is pointed and the direction your mech is faced. It's a simple enough setup to learn, but practice will quickly make things like strafing out of enemy fire more fun than it may seem just by reading it here. It's not complicated enough to need any kind of advanced controller, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun to give that a whirl one day.
The only real downside to using your head to move the body is not being able to take a long look at all of the cool thing happening in the cockpit. There's a radar map just under the damage indicator to your right, but you can't really spend any time looking at it without your torso starting to spin. The best you can do is quickly glance, or ideally just look down with your eyes and not move your head. This isn't a huge deal in the game so far, but if I'm ever surrounded by enemy units on a big map I'm going to want that radar to be a lot more useful to me.
Give me more. A lot more.
War Robots VR is a great way to experience this game with a little more immersion, but it's important to emphasize the little there. This is a demo, with less than 10 minutes of gameplay total. You're running through a first mission in a sort of campaign mode with an AI partner at your side. Quoting developer Pixonic:
We see it as the first intro chapter to the whole War Robots VR installation. With this being our first take on VR ever, we didn't go for a long full-blown game. Instead, we opted for kind of a short playable teaser.
At the end of the experience, you're presented with a QRCode to grab the iOS or Android version of the game. But this demo is way more than an ad for the mobile game. According to Pixonic, this is phase one in a larger push into VR, and the good news is this team is already doing a lot of the really hard things about VR development well. Things like motion sickness prevention and decent breaks in combat already exist in this game, which absolutely isn't easy.
Bottom line is the game is already a lot of fun. Now we just need a lot more of it to love for even longer. For now, enjoy this cool free thing on Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
- Great visuals.
- Near-flawless locomotion.
- Intuitive controls.
- Short, basically a demo.
- Motion controller support wouldn't hurt.