Who asked for another gallery shooter in virtual reality (VR)? No one, of course. The genre has began feeling tired in less than a year since the consumer launch of high-end VR head-mounted displays (HMDs), but there is finally some exploration happening: Arizona Sunshine has recently added a more freeform movement system, Epic Games’ forthcoming Robo Recall looks set to push the boundaries and now Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials is adapting the multiplayer formula of its sister release, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.
Beginning the videogame in the Inn, the same hub featured in the core videogame, the player is able to explore the teleportation system (which is a little more awkward than it needs to be, requiring a long hold on a specified location) the weaponry and, in a similar fashion to the work-in-progress DOOM port from Bethesda Softworks, examine character models. The action begins however, when the player jumps into a battle arena.
Matchmaking options allow the player to join a game in progress (though of course, finding a match can be troublesome at present) or you can simply jump into one of the two maps available directly. The maps feature two types of teleportation location at present – ranged and close combat – allowing the player to vary their tactics using the differing capabilities of the four weapons on offer and retreat should they incur too much damage. Mixing up close combat and ranged shooting appeals in a similar fashion to Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope, however with the option to teleport between locations and maneuver around enemies Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials’ gameplay loop is a much more attractive proposition.
Unlike Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide’s arena-combat experience, a supplementary gameplay mode which builds its premise on enduring waves as a team, Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials challenges the player(s) to defend a set location on the map. A candle burns down to inform the team of how much time is remaining in each match, but the user feedback as to how much damage has been incurred on the home location is poor at present.
The visual quality of Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials is very high. The effects and shadows are lesser than that of Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide, but you’d be hard-pressed to determine any loss in quality on the character models and environments. The particle and lighting effects are rather basic, but given the GPU demands of high-end VR this is understandable at present.
While Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials isn’t a landmark shift for gallery shooters, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. It’s not quite the full Left 4 Dead-alike experience of its sister title, but it arguably comes closer than anything yet presented by VR, and for that FatShark should be congratulated. Warhammer: Vermintide VR – Hero Trials is most definitely worth investing your time in, especially given that it’s free to download via Steam at present, and shows great promise for development to continue.