From Tales of the Rampant Coyote
Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 23, 2018
Virtual-Reality-based dungeon crawling is something of dream-fulfillment for me. It’s the purpose I envisioned for VR back in the days when Ultima IV was high-tech. Of course, it’s not exactly what I dreamed of when I was 12 or 13 years old, but it’s cool enough, and getting cooler. Even with cartoony graphics, the feeling of being “there” in a dungeon in VR is so much more thrilling than on the flat screen. There’s something to be said for actually moving your body to swing an axe or shoot an arrow, too. There are more games appearing all the time, but I thought I’d do a quick run down of some of the games currently out in Steam VR. I wish I could say I have played every one of these, but there are only so many hours in the day, and more keep coming. Plus, many of these are in Early Access (which sometimes still means, “never gets finished”), and they may have changed a bit since I last played them. Or changed a lot.
But if you are a CRPG fan curious about VR, wondering if there was any decent dungeon-delving to be found in the immersive virtual realm, fear not! On the PC, at least, you’ve got plenty to explore and enjoy. While fun games in their own right, I think as much as anything else they show the potential of VR as a platform.
I’ve included a Steam link to the games, but some may be available through other channels.
1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR
Okay, dealing with the 800-pound gorilla first. It’s been a long time since I played Skyrim, and so I’ve forgotten a lot. One thing I haven’t forgotten was how surprisingly cool the dragon battles were. In VR, they are all that and bag of chips. I have a friend who has successfully modded the game with better textures (funny how what was drool-inspiring not too many years ago is “mediocre quality” today), but I still think it looks pretty impressive in VR. I don’t know how it compares to the PSVR version, but on the PC (mine has a GTX 1070 video card) on the Vive, I have definitely returned to the addiction. I never played through the original with all the add-ons, which this package seems to include, so I do have plenty of new experiences to enjoy.
One amusing element is that I’m playing a stealthy archer, and it’s possible to really spam the arrows in VR. Legolas can’t hold a candle to me. The result is that my defensive skills (like armor) are really lagging. This wasn’t an issue in non-VR, since the game could control how quickly you could move. The end result is… serviceable, but not optimal.
The biggest issue is probably interface. It’s pretty overloaded. This kind of comes with the territory in a port of a non-VR game. One of the biggest dangers is that exiting a menu takes a right-hand squeeze, which outside of the menu also causes you to use your dragon shout. I’ve accidentally pissed off NPCs in town a couple of times when I’ve gotten confused or squeezed one too many times. It’s also possible to accidentally hit NPCs, so removing what you have in your hands (long-press on the right menu button, as opposed to a short press which brings up the Magic / Map / Skills / Items menu) is really a Best Practice in town.
This one would probably be my favorite but for Skyrim VR. They’ve even managed to get the V.A.T.S. system to work pretty well, and it feels good, especially after the first couple of updates. I haven’t played it with the last couple of updates, but it sounds like they’ve fixed quite a few little annoyances in Virtual Reality. While you can certainly melee in Fallout 4 VR, a lot of the combat happens at range, with guns. There’s a lot of crouching around cover, and if you don’t use V.A.T.S., you may find (or at least I’ve found) that it’s really easy to get excited with automatic weapons when facing fearsome creatures, and thereby blow through tons of ammo during a “mad minute.” I also found, after one marathon 2.5 hour session, that my back was really hurting after spending a lot of time crouching, ducking, and dodging. While in-game, with all the adrenaline and excitement I didn’t really notice my fatigue too much, but once I took off the headset the pain and fatigue hit. It was probably good for me, but I was feeling it.
The biggest missing component is all of the Fallout 4 DLC, which probably should have been included in this full-priced game. There’s no word on when / if this may be added. And again, this is only a port to VR, which means the gameplay isn’t optimized to the platform. At this still-early stage of VR, that’s acceptable (to me), especially if it means the difference of whether or not VR will get AAA content.
This is an indie game I’ve spent a few hours playing, although not so much since I started playing Skyrim VR. There have been several patches since then, so it may be a whole ‘nother experience. The cool thing with VR Dungeon Knight is that it is designed with VR in mind from the get-go, and it was also designed for (two player) multiplayer cooperative play. Dungeons are dynamically generated, so in spite of similarities and patterns you quickly get used to, the dungeons are never exactly the same layout twice.
There are six classes to choose from, and a small but interesting array of weapons / equipment / spells that you can equip. At least the last time I played, one problem with the system is that equipment upgrades were too dependent on random treasure drops. You can take that as a challenge or a design flaw. Flintlock pistols are one of the weapons, so I’m a little biased in favor of this game for that reason alone. There are only a few different kinds of monsters, but they do have some interesting special abilities. Fighting them requires some skill, not just flailing around with your weapon, and things like blocking, precision strikes, and timing play as much a role (or more) as your stats in combat.
This is more of an arcade-style dungeon combat game, owing as much to games like the Gauntlet series and The Binding of Isaac as old-school dungeon crawlers. It’s a roguelike (rogue-lite?) If your disposition is more for action and combat, this is a solid and very fun title.
One of the first VR Role-playing games for the PC, this feels like part adventure game and part dungeon crawler. If you haven’t tried it, it still holds up well (although technically it is still in “early access” on Steam). It is not very long, but it captures the visceral feel of a great fantasy role-playing game. The puzzles and problem-solving definitely contribute to this feeling (while limiting its replayability… a good trade-off, in my opinion), and the combat takes full advantage of virtual reality, demanding careful attacks around shield blocks.
By InXile, the guys responsible for the new Wasteland games and the new Bard’s Tale, this game really had me excited at first. It looks cool, and has some decent voice-acting and cool environments and special effects. Unfortunately, I felt it played clunky and had a lot of technical issues and lack of clearly designated saves that make me resistant to give it another shot.
An award-winning indie RPG where you cast spells using hand gestures in VR. If you really want to go through wild fantasy landscapes slinging fireballs and fighting elemental monsters & dragons & crazy stuff like that, this is a good addition to your library.
A VR Action-Roguelike using voxel-based enemies. Sort of MineCraft-y in appearance, complete with the Roguelike addition of permadeath. It has been updated many times since I first played it as part of a bundle many moons ago. At the time, I felt it had potential, especially with the variety of equipment and the potential of the style, but it was lacking in variety. I look forward to trying it again once it is in full release.
9. Heroes of the Seven Seas VR
I think this is a port from Gear VR, and it shows. The graphics are cartoony and simple, but serviceable. The action is … actiony. But it has PIRATES! And sea battles! And sea monsters! All that good stuff! And it’s cheap. So it’s a nice bit of variety into the VR RPG genre.
Though it has the RPG tag, it is dubious as to whether this one actually counts as an RPG, or more of an adventure game. In this game, you cast spells using gestures with your wand to interact with the world and solve puzzles. There’s no combat, but there are items to collect (it’s unclear if that’s part of a progression mechanic that would allow this to be called an RPG).
Like most of the games on this list, this was built from the ground up as a VR game. Multiplayer is “in process,” but it promises up to four player parties of cooperative action, and perhaps a little bit of PvP as well. The game is colorful, and the enemies can get tricky (even ducking arrow shots). The gameplay is simple but fun, taking good advantage of room-based VR. The game is still in early access, and so it may be a title to watch for its potential down the road. It’ll be really interesting to see how it ends up working with four players.
Hey, there’s a Massively Multiplayer RPG on the list! On the one hand, it is bright and ambitious. On the other, it’s sparse and the graphics are really simple. But hey, if I were to make an MMORPG, I’d probably choose a similar path. Except maybe the bright part. It’s still in early access (and may be until the day they shut the servers down), and is advertising that they now support 10-person raid content. Plus quests, etc. No, I haven’t played yet. MMORPGs scare me as potential time sinks these days. I know me. But color me intrigued. It’s a beginning.
There are no other truly 3rd-person VR game on the list, so Mario 64 / Zelda – inspired little title includes platforming and RPG elements. It’s cute and certainly ambitious, but lacks professional polish. But hey, at least it’s not an Early Access title.
A horror RPG inspired by titles like Dark Souls. Like a couple other games on this list, it uses a gesture-based magic system, which can be hard to pull off in combat. It’s intended to be hard, moody, and at least a little scary, and takes advantage of room-scale VR. Sadly, the principal developer passed away recently, so support for the game in the future may be iffy.
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Original URL: http://rampantgames.com/blog/?p=12022