Archiact’s Evasion is the kind of first-person shooter (FPS) videogame everybody expected virtual reality (VR) to quickly capitalise on, before it was established that fast-paced first-person experiences in the new medium were less than comfortable. Approaching two years after the consumer debut of VR, Archiact is confident the solution to this has finally been found.
The core gameplay loop revolves around team-based co-operative action. Two classes were available to play in VRFocus’ hands-on time with the videogame, doubling to four for the final release version; fast-hitting Striker and the healing Surgeon, set to be accompanied by the Engineer and Warden classes. Each class has its own attributes, different weapons and shield abilities, so ensuring your team has a good mix of aggression and support is essential.
The gunplay in Evasion is key. Players are able to weaken foes as they await support from their teammates, and even use environmental objects – such as causing a rockslide – to cause damage. An interest aspect of this is the ‘ultimate abilities’ system. Upon felling enemies yellow capsules will be dropped at random, and collecting them will build a meter to unleash a devastating attack for a limited time. However, these capsules aren’t limited to only the player who killed the enemy, thus it’s possible for an entire team to build their meters and execute their ultimate abilities simultaneously.
Though not witnessed in the preview build VRFocus experiences, the class system won’t be the limit of the player’s character options. Archiact has teased that customisation options will be available and that a level system will be included in the final build. To exactly what extent this will stretch is not yet known, but given the emphasis on co-operative play and replayable missions with randomised objectives and enemy encounters, it’s wholly possible that Evasion could become the Borderlands of VR; a unique twist on the FPS genre that would most certainly be welcome.
Of course, as stated in the first paragraph of this article, FPS locomotion in VR has proven to be problematic. Archiact think they’ve found the solution; offering a hugely customisable array of systems to allow all players to feel comfortable. Played on both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch, standing and seated, VRFocus can confirm that nearly every avenue has been explored in order to make Evasion an approachable experience: smooth locomotion, teleportation, snap rotation, blinkers and more are all options for the player to toy with until they find their sweetspot. However, after around 40 minutes play in four-player matches, VRFocus did find some of the minor simulation sickness issues occurring. Hopefully, this will be rectified with more opportunity to explore the variety of options available.
The tech underneath the hood of Evasion appears sound. While played in a controlled environment, VRFocus didn’t experience any network lag or framerate issues – two killers of VR experiences – and the smooth animation on other player character models (thanks to the use of Ikinema) and accurate positioning of allies significantly helps build the level of immersion. The destructible environments are a understated touch; though seemingly limited in placement, rendering such chaos without impacting framerate is impressive.
While all of this sounds convincing, Evasion will face a lot of competition upon its release. Epic Games’ Robo Recall still stands as a testament of how to do FPS VR right, and with DOOM VFR looming alongside other AAA first-person experiences such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR, Archiact are seemingly betting on the co-operative element of Evasion to help it stand out from the bigger budget crowd. If the development team can come good on the promise of a deep character evolution system and the promise of varied locomotion alternatives is realised, Evasion could well achieve its goal of becoming a landmark VR FPS title.