Preview: Couch Knight

An unexpected announcement at the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) earlier this year, Couch Knight is a Oculus Rift exclusive collaboration between Epic Games and Oculus VR themselves. It’s not an Unreal Engine 4 showcase nor a mature-themed action/adventure title; Couch Knight was not only an unexpected reveal but also an unexpected type of videogame for the house that brought us Unreal Tournament and Gears of War. Couch Knight is a family-friendly multiplayer videogame.

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The demonstration build offered to press upon the reveal of Couch Knight was just that: a demonstration. It’s not yet known whether Couch Knight will be developed into a full videogame or offered as a technical demo or even whether it will ever be made available to the public, but in VRFocus‘ estimation it’s best suited as a bundled experience: a lightweight videogame solely for the purpose of demonstrating the unique features of the Oculus Rift. In this instance, Couch Knight was the perfect introduction to the second iteration of the Oculus Rift development kit (aka DK2) for both those who were already familiar with the earlier build and newcomers to the virtual reality (VR) technology.

The idea of the videogame was simple. Two players donned DK2 headsets and controlled the experience with an Xbox 360 control pad. Both players existed as polygon models in the virtual world – though inanimate and not relative to their real world positioning – while they controlled a fighter within the videogame. The action was simple; move attack, defend, magic and jump were all the commands available. However, the players are given free-run of the environment, so making use of the virtual living room presented within the demo was key to victory.

The brightly coloured decor housed a wealth of opportunity. Calling them ‘secrets’ would most certainly be a step too far – there were no items to collect, no hidden bonuses or objects of importance aside from the two players – however a stack of books could give one player an important height advantage. Moving behind the couch could reduce the enemy’s line-of-sight and give you the upperhand as you charge your magic. Taking the fight in front of the player’s viewpoint could force them to re-angle the camera via head movement, costing them valuable seconds. Despite it’s simple appearance there was most certainly some tactical nuance to Couch Knight; whether or not it’s enough to warrant further development is very much a matter of wildly varying opinion.

Couch Knight was coupled by a build of EVE Valkryie that VRFocus had previously witnessed (with a newer build of CCP Games’ championed VR space combat sim behind closed doors) and together they offered a perfect showcase for the positional tracking, reduced latency and improved resolution of the DK2 hardware. The latter is most certainly being developed with the intention of being offered as a consumer product, but what the future holds for Couch Knight is not yet known. Of course, VRFocus will keep you updated with the future of this interesting taste of VR multiplayer gaming.

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