A longtime fan of virtual reality video gaming, Bethesda's Skyrim VR has become a favorite. So when the publisher of that game, Fallout 4 VR and DOOM VFR announced Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot and Prey: Typhon Hunter, I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of more AAA launches in the VR sphere.
MachineGames' Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot
The premise for this virtual reality entry in the Wolfenstein universe is straightforward: Players hack in to Nazi war machines in Paris to turn their weapons against themselves. It's a sound setup for the VR combat that follows; time will tell if it's only context or if there's a meaty story in support of the gameplay.
The demo begins with the hack in to a Panzerhund, which resembles a kind of towering canine mech. Movement takes some practice, as the mech responds to the right motion controller and the left controller's track pad, potentially for cockpit and mech movement, respectively, though in my brief playtime the exact distinction was admittedly confusing.
Default movement relied on a smooth turn as opposed to the snap turn option I prefer in games like Farpoint and Skyrim VR. Initially movement was fine, though constant and quick smooth turns during chaotic firefights did prompt me to stop playing after a while. It's too early to know what other locomotion options might be implemented.
The Panzerhund starts off in an underground corridor, and players take it to the streets of occupied Paris. The demo is essentially an open-air corridor shooter, filtering one through narrow streets that meet at wider areas. Along the way, foes emerge from subterranean passageways, building doorways, kinds of troop carriers or hubs, and the sky.
The mech has two basic attacks in the demo, a flamethrower from inside its mouth and a bash attack to basically head-butt obstacles like vehicles out of the way or into foes. The attacks are powerful and easy to deploy, and make quick work of both impediments and Nazi patrols, reinforcements and drones. In my experience they are fairly overpowered.
In general firefights were thrilling as patrols and reinforcements provided enough targets to keep the action going. Enemy fire and directional dialog suggest where attacks are coming from, which is helpful when the assault can come from all sides including the sky. The nature of the flamethrower helpfully allows for waylaying scores at a time.
The overall design and presentation are well done, the controls are responsive and fairly easy to use (despite my confusion with regard to movement), and firefights are frenetic. In general it was fun and I'm hopeful. Given more variety in foes, weapons and areas, an upgrade to AI, and more locomotion options, it could be a solid VR option.
Arkane Studios' Prey: Typhon Hunter
Typhon Hunter not only will release with a five-on-one multiplayer mode, but also includes a single player mode called TranStar VR that functions as a series of escape room games where players -- employees of TranStar -- survey rooms for clues to solve puzzles and complete objectives before moving to the next room.
The demo consists of one room with multiple puzzles. Players must complete a variety of tasks that contribute to meeting the objective. In this case, a key card must be found, a safe opened, headgear recovered, kinds of power nodes scanned, data downloaded, found objects recycled, devices recovered, etc. Many of these are interrelated tasks.
As in the main game, players use controllers to navigate by teleportation and as hands/gloves to grab objects; move items; and control buttons, levers and devices, etc. to open/close containers, operate machinery, scan materials, etc. Controls work well, though some actions take practice, such as selecting where best to teleport or proper distance to interact.
This application of VR reminded me of the investigative work in Batman: Arkham VR, and is as well implemented. My demo was brief so I had help solving some of the puzzles, which for instance can involve deciphering a diagram to unlock a code that opens a safe. Depending on the task, solving some elements leads to other goals.
The room explored in the demo actually is several interconnected rooms, including an office, a lab, and related areas. All are well conceived, have nice details and solid interaction. They help establish the world, and the puzzles didn't feel contrived. In my opinion, such puzzles should provide a welcome extension of the license, especially if Typhons hide among them.
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