Preview: Bandit Six: Salvo on Gear VR

Gear VR might not have the largest library of virtual reality (VR) software, but it certainly has some dedicated developers. Despite what’s likely a low install base for the Innovator’s Edition of the device, the kit already has some teams that have created multiple experiences for it. Among them is Climax Studios. The UK-based team will be known to many for its work on the popular Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and, more recently, the ongoing Assassin’s Creed Chronicles 2.5D series. But slowly but surely, the developer is also making a name for itself within the VR scene.

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Those that do own a Gear VR will have likely tried Bandit Six, the team’s enjoyable turret-based World War 2-era shooter. Stationary FPS titles are popular on the mobile head-mounted display (HMD), working around many of the limitations with locomotion, and the studio’s first effort was a good example of this. But, just as Gunfire Games were able to quickly produce a sequel to Herobound: First Steps, Climax Studios is already busy preparing its follow-up, Bandit Six: Salvo.

The original Bandit Six placed players in the tail gunner seat of a bomber craft. Bandit Six: Salvo literally takes a more grounded approach, allowing Gear VR owners to control different turrets that, in the level played, overlook a beach swarming with approaching enemies. In the context of the environment it’s a bright and breezy change; the title’s cartoon-esque visuals allow for strikingly vibrant colours that make a war-torn battlefield an oddly pleasant place to visit. As can be seen in screenshots recently released, environments are set to change up quite dramatically, promising to give it a varied colour palette.

Enemies come from land, sea and air, making for an entertaining juggling act as you use Gear VR’s head-tracking to aim a weapon, keeping attack choppers at bay and blowing tanks backwards. The real fun comes from experimenting with the different weapons. A standard machine gun is always dependable but dropping mortar fire on swerving vehicles is much more entertaining. Players use a compatible Bluetooth controller to switch between weapons, giving them a sense of weight in their own hands as they operate the heavy weaponry.

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The result is another welcome layer on top of a genre that’s already growing crowded. Climax Studios has found a way to differentiate its shooter series from the likes of Gunner, however slight. There’s an element of strategy to the proceedings now, taking Bandit Six: Salvo a bit further than what’s come before.

Bandit Six: Salvo is a simple thrill that sets the bar low but it’s also free from the shackles of more ambitious VR projects that see characters walk around or interact with objects with their hands. This is the type of VR experience that you might first show to a friend to allow them to acclimatise and get a grip on what the technology is and which direction it’s heading in. At this early stage in the game, experiences such as this are essential to preach the word of VR.

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