At the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017, Oculus was out in force demoing the latest titles set to launch for Oculus Rift. Many supported its motion controllers, Oculus Touch, with Chronos and Dead and Buried developer Gunfire Games showcasing its latest project, first-person shooter (FPS) From Other Suns. A sci-fi adventure where you’ll be roaming the stars, From Other Suns aims to a virtual reality (VR) experience that’s comfortable for beginners, whilst engaging enough for VR stalwarts.
From Other Suns puts you on a spaceship, your spaceship, and it’s here that you’ll build a crew to head into the cosmos to fight battles, rescue people, gain resources and more. In the short GDC demo Gunfire Games ran, one thing was clear, building a solid crew is of primary importance when planning what you want to do and what to need to achieve. At it’s heart From Other Suns is an FPS where you’ll wander through space stations dispatching enemies, but your character is neither invincible nor immortal. This is where your crew comes in, as the harder the mission the more expendable your shipmates might just become.
The mission for the demo tasks you with locating an item on a seemingly derelict space station. Here you must find your way through the labyrinth of corridors, finding key cards on route to unlock doors. Before heading out you’ll be able to choose a couple of weapons to holster on either hip, a pistol comes as standard, with shotguns, assault rifles and a Tesla/lightning style weapon available. While you can choose your preferred loadout prior to launching the mission this can easily be adapted on the fly, more guns can be found dotted around the wall of the space station, the enemies will also drop useful stuff.
Enemies are of the robotic variety, ranging from normal foot soldier types, to heavily armored beasts who shouldn’t be taken head on. Gunfire Games seem to have a good early AI balance for the opponents shown. The heavily armed enemies tend to stand there and take the punishment – because they can, whilst dealing it out – while the the standard robots a much more tactile. If they’re by themselves they’ll tend to use cover – momentarily stepping out to fire – but when there’s more than one they’ll push forward trying to press the advantage.
It’s these types of moments where if you’re not careful you’ll be killed, and this is where your crew mates come in. Should your character die you’ll respawn in one of your crew to continue the mission, you won’t have any of the items that you previously picked up – those can be found by locating the body – so some retreading is needed. This system means that missions have to be weighed up carefully, as you can only have six members in your crew. If a mission is difficult is it worth sacrificing them all?
From Other Suns has another trick up its sleeve and that’s how it handles movement. Gunfire Games is well aware of the issues standard FPS movement mechanics can have in VR so its created a range of options to suit pretty much everyone. The videogame has a novel comfort setting in which you’ll view your character in third-person, run them to wherever you wish and once you come to a stop you’ll be teleported back into first-person. It mixes the best of both worlds, providing an intuitive option for those that suffer sim sickness. There’s also snap rotation if needed. The only downside to this is you can feel a little left open to attack.
The camera – your viewpoint – stays fixed as the character runs around. Fine when on your ship – and more immersive than just teleporting – but in hostile situations you’re essentially blind running around corners until you snap back into first-person, which could see you come to a quick end. There’s also complete free FPS movement using the Oculus Touch sticks – if you can handle it – which definitely provides the best way to play.
There’s a lot going for From Other Suns. It’s great to just look at, from the ship’s corridors, dials and gun detailing to the animation of enemies, everything feels solid and robust. The gameplay mechanics work nicely, the guns rewarding to use as you blow apart another robot, and movement options are extensively covered. Due to arrive later this year From Other Suns should be one to keep an eye on.