Everyone loves dinosaurs – or they should do. These ancient prehistoric animals that roamed the Earth millions of years ago have enthralled countless generations, inspiring literature, films, TV series, cartoons and of course videogames. The Jurassic Park film franchise is probably one of the best known use cases of dinosaurs in entertainment – with a few dodgy videogame tie-ins – and then there’s the sci-fi videogame series Turok. VR fans on the other hand haven’t had a great deal of choice, until Cloudgate Studio came along and released Island 359 for HTC Vive last year. Now it’s the turn of Oculus Rift users to explore the jungle in search of these dangerous creatures.
Not yet ready for a full release, Cloudgate Studio is bringing Island 359 to early access on the Oculus Home, but that by no means means it’s half a title. This version will see all the latest updates so the Oculus Rift users will have as much fun as their HTC Vive counterparts.
The videogame is split into two, with an Arcade Mode and a Mercenary Mode available. Cloudgate Studio has covered all the bases, whether you’re a VR newbie or a VR veteran. Arcade mode is essentially a dinosaur wave shooter, with you in a set position armed with a pistol and an Uzi. Then wave after wave of razor-toothed animals are unleashed upon you, testing how long you can survive. Get far enough and you’ll earn upgrade bonuses to improve your chances. If this was all Island 359 offered it would be ok, but it would get dumped alongside all the other wave shooters. Luckily though there’s Mercenary Mode.
This is certainly the core of Island 359 and where you’ll likely spend most of your time. There are three locations but only two are currently playable, the Jungle and the Beach – the third area will be coming soon. The Jungle has one mode option ‘Loot Drop’ while Beach has that and one other ‘Big Hunt’. Whichever level you play ‘Loot Drop’ is all about killing as many dinosaurs as possible. After killing a certain amount you’ll be gifted a crate drop with new guns, health, and upgrades to choose from.This is by far the best mode as it’s just you against little Compys, Raptors, Allosaurs and Triceratops. Hunting through the Jungle is wicked fun, learning how to use the spatial audio to hear a dinosaur before you’ve seen it is well worth mastering.
Cloudgate Studio has gone for a sort of teleportation whereby you click the stick on either Oculus Touch controller to bring up the way point, then adjust the distance by using your head. While weird at first, it quickly becomes instinctual as you can instantly move to where you’re looking – very good when trying to dash round the bigger dinos.
As you play a mercenary hunting dinosaurs for cash naturally you’re provided with the latest weaponry, pistols, auto-pistols, SMG’s, Assault rifles and more are available. You can also upgrade them with sights, laser pointers, or for a stealthy kill a suppressor. If you venture into ‘Big Hunt’ then you’ll have none of these, just you, some massive dinosaurs and a bow and arrow, this is where the challenge certainly ramps up.
In its present state you might have thought Island 359 was a fully fledged experience, but Cloudgate Studio still have a few bugs to solve, tweaks to add and some other tricks. Even so, Island 359 is shaping up to be one of the best first-person shooters (FPS) available on any headset.