Tammeka Games’ futuristic racing title is set to launch via Steam Early Access later today and while VRFocus has already brought you a look at the single-player aspect of the videogame, the multiplayer is a whole different ball game. Radial-G is fun and frantic in single-player but can also feel like a cold and lonely place to set and subsequently attempt to beat your own lap times; in multiplayer the energy is turned up to 10 as it demands much more than simply positional awareness.
Inspired by F-Zero, Radial-G‘s science-fiction vehicles and tracks are an easy sell. High octane racing around the full spectrum of a tube, leaping onto an outer shell to grab a boost and back onto the tube, dashing between revolving gates and hitting ramps for air time at high speed. That’s Radial-G in a nutshell. And for many that will be enough. However, imagine taking this online and racing against up to 16 players of equal skill. Or, better yet, 32 players. That’s Tammeka Games’ ambition, and in this Steam Early Access build they’ve laid a solid foundation upon which to build.
The set-up is simple: one player hosts, rival racers opt for their favourite vehicle (3 being available in this build) and launch straight into a race. Standard races are complimented by alternative gameplay modes including No Gates (which removes the red crash gates that slow down your vehicle), Elimination (staged elimination of last place racer at 15 second intervals) and Death Race (no shield regeneration). That last mode in particular is a tense affair when racing against players of a similar skill level as collisions become more than merely hazardous; they can outright put an end to your race.
Of course, the host of the lobby has the option to choose which gameplay mode is entered into as well as which track, the total amount of laps and the time allotted to racers to reach the finish line once the victory has been claimed. In the build VRFocus experienced it was not possible to change vehicle without exiting the lobby; Tammeka Games assured that this was merely to reduce loading times and that the option would be brought to the lobby set-up in future builds of Radial-G.
VRFocus experienced races with up to 8 players, though the build set to be available via Steam Early Access later today will support up to 16. Even in this reduced number however, races would often be close calls with pilots jostling for position on the track. Tammeka Games has included a clever indicator which circles the rim of the tube denoting where those ahead of you lie, regardless of which face of the tube they are currently positioned on. Even when directly underneath you it’s easy to determine just how far from earning a higher position on the final leaderboard you are.
Of course, the boost and shield mechanics in Radial-G‘s multiplayer are entirely the same as the single player component. The difference is that, with other human players on the track, they feel more vital; like every single push is make-or-break. Like one missed boost accumulator or accidental crash into a gate is the distance between win-or-lose. This, of course, is exactly what makes for exciting online racing experiences, and when those lobbies begin to fill later today you can be sure that the opportunities to feel exhilarated or downhearted will come thick and fast.