Preview: Gunheart – Halo Meets VR
The sci-fi shooter shows a lot of promise even in early access.
Plenty of developers when they enter the field of virtual reality (VR) tend to go into the first-person shooter (FPS) genre. This is not only due to the popularity of these titles but also how well they suit VR gameplay. The flip side of this is that there are a fair few of them to choose from, meaning that studio’s not only need to create a videogame that’s inventive, but polished as well. Drifter Entertainment falls into this area with the release of its first experience for Oculus Rift (previewed) and HTC Vive with Gunheart, a co-op multiplayer that’s been inspired by videogames such as Halo and Gears of War.
Currently in Early Access on Steam and Oculus Store, Gunheart looks like your standard sci-fi alien affair. The premise is that you’re an intergalactic robot bounty hunter, earning a living by exterminating aliens wherever needed. You need to complete missions, killing as many enemies on route whilst finding hidden cash caches to build up your rig, buy and upgrade weapons to then go out and wreak more carnage.
All players start in the central hub, called The Bent Horizon, which features a bar, gun shop, mission select area and a couple of other bits and pieces. There’s no hand holding in Gunheart, the developer hasn’t added a nice training mission or run-though of what does what, you just need to figure things out for yourself. Or just ask someone. The title has only been out a few days and it’s nice to see a community already building. There always seems to be someone in the hub, no matter what time of day which is refreshing to see for an early access videogame.
There is a wall that showcases how to reload or combine your weapons but aside from that there’s nothing, which is fine as the controls aren’t that overly complicated to begin with. First and foremost is movement, which by default is teleportation. Don’t worry if you’re fed up of teleportation however as Drifter Entertainment has got you covered. Head into the menu options and you’ll be able to switch on strafe, so that you can walk about – albeit with a small vignette for comfort – to your heart’s content.
You will still need teleportation because of the way the levels are designed. As you can see in the header image above, this early area is an undulating mixture of solid and moving platforms, rock formations and more. As there’s no jump functionality experienced players will likely mix between teleportation to get to useful vantage points and FPS mechanics when they’re going head to head with enemies.
The level design is one of the best bits about Gunheart, giving players a wealth of tactical options as they flit from platform to platform. Slightly more restrictive are your weapon load outs. You can only take a maximum of two guns into a level, so you need to choose wisely depending on how you intend on approaching a shoot out. You start with a mini crossbow (with remote controlled darts) and a pistol. As you progress you’ll be able to buy shotguns, SMGs, and some heavy weapons to mix up the gameplay. There’s also a nifty feature should you need it in the heart of battle. Bringing both guns together will form the heavy weapon – a minigun to begin with – to unleash some devastating damage.
Some early access titles can be really rough around the edges but Gunheart already feels quite polished. There were occasional glitches where enemies would just stand there, only attacking once a few shots had been fired. Also some of the basic enemies AI had a lot to be desired, just running straight at you. While the title can be played in single-player it’s best to have the options set to open co-op, as slaying hostile aliens is much more fun in a team, and that’s going to be Gunheart’s biggest draw.