Preview: Robo Recall – The Reason You Bought Into VR
Epic Games finally reveal their VR videogame, and it’s great fun.
Showdown, Bullet Train, Robo Recall. For the already initiated there’s a clear path that has been followed to bring Robo Recall – Epic Games’ newly announced virtual reality (VR) exclusive videogame – to a consumer audience. For many however, the route that has been taken is inconsequential and the final product will be presented on its individual merits alone. Thankfully, Robo Recall stands on its own bi-pedal robotic feet as the VR videogame you need.
Contrary to Epic Games’ work in VR thus far, Robo Recall has a story. It also has a progression system, scoring mechanic, deep combat mechanics and a boss fight. Put simply, Robo Recall is a videogame, and not a technical demonstration. Furthermore, the studio will launch Robo Recall exclusively for Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch later this year, free of charge.
The videogame casts the player as a recall expert on the hunt of AI that has gone rogue. Essentially, robots built to perform menial tasks got bored, started spending too much time on the internet and learned about their own history. They became self-aware. And they’re not happy about their position in the evolutionary ladder. Now, they’re heavily armed and roaming the streets looking for trouble, so it’s up to you to take them out in the most efficient manner possible: blasting them to robo hell.
The videogame begins with the player being taught the basics in their office. A short elevator ride explaining the situation sees you arrive in a rather shabby looking venue, littered with paperwork and other random detritus. Here the player can learn the first lesson of interaction simply through exploration: any object that has a white circle appear on it when in close proximity can be grabbed. To move the player uses a teleportation mechanic that has evolved out of the aforementioned Bullet Train: moving the analogue stick on the left Oculus Touch controller will slow time and launch a beam which can be aimed to the position you wish to move to, and moving the analogue stick will determine the direction you’ll be facing upon arrival. It’s a simple and intuitive variation of the current trend for teleportation movement in VR, and it checks all of the boxes it needs to.
Infinitely more impressive however, is the combat. Robo Recall is undoubtedly the most fun first-person shooter (FPS) videogame in VR. The player is at first equipped with just pistols: two, located on each hip. The player can draw and fire at will, and just as with Bullet Train dispose of once ammunition has been depleted. Weapons take a few seconds to recharge (indicated by an icon within the player’s relative view related to the weapon’s holster location on your body) before they can be drawn again, but there’s also the opportunity to grab weapons from your foes. Furthermore, there’s the opportunity to grab enemies themselves, too.
Those white circle indicators on interactive items mentioned above? They’re not just for idle object examination; they’re for further brutality. The player can grab bi-pedal robots and rip them apart – literally – using their heads of limbs as weapons against other robots. Smaller spider-like robots become active grenades when grabbed, allowing you to throw them at other robots and take out numerous enemies in one blast. This close combat mechanic is practically guaranteed to bring a smile to your face – slowly pulling apart an enemy and watching the immense detail in its construction dissembled by force – even if it’ll be underused at times of high action.
Throughout all of this Robo Recall gives the player a high-score system earned through successful kills. Kill streaks, juggle combos, headshots and more all reward the player with bigger scores. It’s a system that’s reminiscent of Bulletstorm to a degree, and the cartoonish text with which the score is displayed coupled with the speed of the action give Robo Recall a genuine arcade adrenaline-rush feel to its gameplay.
Easily one of the best looking videogames yet seen in the new modern medium of VR, the demonstration version of Robo Recall culminates in a boss fight that varies up the gameplay significantly. Traditionally obvious weakpoints make for an easy win, but there’s much more this boss can offer beyond defeat. This in essence is exactly what Robo Recall’s first demonstration presents: a highly polished, hugely enjoyable hint at much more to come.