Zombies, love them or hate them they’re a dominant force in the entertainment world, even if it has got to the point of over saturation. There’s just something about using a shotgun to decapitate an undead foe that gamers love – or any other gun for that matter – so developers are still keenly churning out videogames to satiate the masses. For virtual reality (VR) one of the latest comes from Badfly Interactive in the form of Dead Effect 2 VR, a HTC Vive and Oculus Rift version from its Dead Effect franchise that brings guns, upgrades and a big story into a mostly satisfying mix.
While you may think of Dead Effect 2 VR as some sort of horror it really isn’t, more of an arcade shooter to be fair. Yes you are going to get attacked by stumbling, necrotic enemies, evil augmented dogs and creatures that wail and spew acidic bile at you, all located in a dimly lit spaceship making some fateful journey, but Dead Space this is not. What Dead Effect 2 VR does do is give you options galore to customise your character whilst providing blood and gore galore.
The basic premise of Dead Effect 2 VR is that you’re on the first spaceship going to colonise a new planet. While most of the crew are in hibernation a bunch of scientists have been left awake to carry on their experiments, and naturally things go all weird and macabre when left to their own morals. You play an experiment – there are three characters to choose from at the start – someone who’s been augmented to make them better in combat. The story unfolds after most of the scientists have been killed, and the military force that was in stasis has been awoken and are clearing up the ‘experiments’, which includes you. So not only do you have an array of monsters trying to kill you there’s a few gun toting soldiers running around as well.
From the off Badfly Interactive gets an important factor right, and that’s movement. For those VR players who suffer from a bit a nausea there’s the standard teleportation method plus snap turning controls. The teleportation is really good as there’s no fixed distance like a lot of other videogames, all you need is line of sight. If you want to teleport across the entire room then you can. That’s all controlled on the right trackpad (played on HTC Vive) while the left gives you access to normal first-person shooter (FPS) controls. It’s nice to have both instantly accessible so you can switch between them if needed.
And the options continue as you delve deeper into the experience. As mentioned you get to choose one of three characters when you begin the story, Gunner, a heavy weapons specialist, Jane, an assault (shotgun) specialist and Kay who’s all about close combat. Each has their own array of special abilities which can then be upgraded as needed. The wealth of options available in Dead Effect 2 VR is a definite boon for anyone who likes as much variety as possible. In game, you provided with a myriad of upgrades, for yourself and for your weaponry, most of which can be bought by finding cash strewn about the levels.
Even though it’s a Steam Early Access title the actual look and feel of the experience is very good, but there is some polishing still needed to make the videogame really great. For instance the first gun you get is a pistol, which works very well at popping heads. Then you’re provided an assault rifle which is next to useless due to the massive recoil. Then there’s the reloading, if you need to just look down and bring your gun to the ammo belt, no problem. But this doesn’t work if you’ve got bullets left. As standard the pistol holds 12 rounds, say you have three or four left after a fire fight, these need to be fired before reloading to max capacity, which is a fairly clunky system.
Dead Effect 2 VR has its good and bad points at present, but it certainly leans more to the positive. With its over the top gunplay, customisation and movement options and hours of gameplay Badfly Interactive has certainly entered the VR market in a noticeable way.