First-person shooters (FPS) in virtual reality (VR) currently come in two forms: the wave shooter (Space Pirate Trainer, Brookhaven Experiment et al) and the corridor shooter (Arktika.1, Overkill VR). Blunt Force (working title) from G2A is in the latter camp; bringing an episodic World War II (WWII) experience to VR early next year.
Despite its somewhat abrasive working title, Blunt Force appears to offer a rather thought provoking take on the common WWII FPS formula. Instead of going all-out Call of Duty with intense one-man-heroics, Blunt Force opts for a more psychological presentation. The vertical slice VRFocus experienced begins in a café, with the player indulging in a spot of tea and some light reading. Moments later, the world has changed: the environment around you turns into chaos in slow motion as a tank rolls down the street.
Blunt Force flits between moments of serenity and chaos frequently, giving the impression that the final videogame will feature more than just gunplay and violence. On that note however, the gunplay itself doesn’t appear to be a weak link in the gameplay loop.
From the very first sequence of war, the player finds themselves forced to grab a weapon and take control of the situation. Teleporting to a set location adjacent to the café window, the player must take up arms and eliminate the enemy units encroaching on their location. A pistol, rifle and grenades make themselves available as the player takes out a dozen-or-so enemies, before moving onto the next location within the same environment and repeating the action. Unlike Arktika.1, there aren’t multiple positions in each location to choose from, but Blunt Force does make good use of the environment for building tension through immersion.
Later locations see the player moving through increasingly decaying buildings; a shallow reminder of the former glory of libraries and monuments. Its long been said that one of the strongest assets VR has to offer videogames is the greater attention to detail, and Blunt Force excels in this regard. Though the level design is artificially limited for the sake of player comfort, the mise-en-scène of seemingly simple aspects such as a fallen light or timber blocking the line-of-sight is near faultless.
The same too can be said of the sound design in Blunt Force. Easily one of the most impressive aspects of the videogame at present, the use of acoustics surrounding the player’s position and weaponry is of the highest calibre. Audio has always been important in videogames, but in VR it’s a make-or-break aspect of design: G2A’s team clearly know this, and are not afraid to invest resources in a technology that can’t be seen.
Regardless of what the common opinion of G2A’s business strategy elsewhere may be, there’s no denying that the company’s VR development team is full of talented individuals. Blunt Force has the potential to become a landmark addition to the FPS genre in VR, however the time frame for launch does bring about concerns. With Epic Games’ Robo Recall looking to launch in a similar time frame – and still currently blowing all other VR FPS videogames out of the water with its totally freeform teleportation – Blunt Force may appear dated in comparison despite only being a few months away.