Starting out as an indie studio working solely on virtual reality (VR) content is no easy task, but it’s a challenge CHURROBOROS has taken on since forming back in 2016. The team has decided to create a combat multiplayer for HTC Vive (previewed) and Oculus Rift called Velocibeasts, demoing a very early prototype at the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017 for the first time.
Velocibeasts goes for an energetically frantic combat system, whereby players can choose one of three weapons which have dual functionality. Players can use them to kill opponents, whilst also using them to travel around the battlefield. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, with the blue disc able to travel the greatest distance but with little use close range. While the yellow loadout brandishes a massive mace-like weapon which is heavy to throw but very effective within melee distance.
Currently the early demo could support up to four players, for the GDC showcase only three opponents fought it out at once. CHURROBOROS has said that the plan is to support up to six opponents at a time, with multiplayer deathmatches and team matches due to feature. The larger enemy count should help matches flow a lot better as the size of the single map available was fairly large.
CHURROBOROS VR concept involves battles taking place in huge expansive arenas with floating islands to use as cover, whilst providing spawn point areas for players and power-ups. The travel mechanic is essentially teleportation. The level on show had no floor to it, so players were able to freely move about wherever they pleased, so incoming ordinance could come in from below as well as above players.
This means players are floating in midair, and opponents can attack from any direction, which sounds great but there are issues of concern. The main one is that of perceived vertigo. For those that haven’t suffered any ill effects from any type of VR there’s probably not going to be an issue. But just as Oculus Dreamdeck aimed to show with its skyscraper tech demo, that effect of feeling up high and giddy can be easily reproduced for some people. This may increase even further, with the constant jarring from point to point.
Players don’t need to constantly teleport though. There’s an option to stay on the spot and have the weapon turn right back, the only issue, you’ll leave yourself wide open to attack, a stationary target is much easier to hit. Combat can also be aided with those powerups littered about. These allow for weapon swapping, picking up shields or duel wielding for some extra attacking power.
At present Velocibeasts is still early in its development and the team do have someway to go. The basics that are there do provide an enjoyable experience – whether its suits everyone though is another matter. While the studio certainly has an inventive idea on its hands, another issue of concern is that of actual players. This is a core multiplayer title and as such will come up against the same problems other online only multiplayer’s suffer from, if gamers aren’t instantly attracted to it, it’ll die way before it’s had a chance to shine. And for a fledgling studio that could be dire.