Preview: Apex Construct – An Epic Sci-fi Adventure Awaits
Apex Construct displays all the hallmarks of a AAA experience for VR.
With a team that’s had its hand in developing videogames like Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge Fast Travel Games’ first foray into virtual reality (VR) was never going to be small and experimental. A surprise unveiling during a Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) press conference set the scene for Apex Construct, showcasing an adventure filled with big events and a bold storyline. Supporting all the major headsets, the studio gave VRFocus an early look at what’s to come with a HTC Vive compatible demo that didn’t fail to impress.
This is a videogame of both action and fantasy storyline, set in a future where mankind is no more. Having carried out too many reckless experiments the world is now a twisted and warped shadow of its former self – akin to a Tim Burton movie – where the buildings and land are almost one and the same, jutting structures that defy physics and practicality. The inhabitants of this world are merciless robots, prowling the walkways and caverns for anything alive that doesn’t belong.
And that’s where you come in, brought into the world to hopefully restore order, equipped with a trusty bow, a robot hand, and no idea about what the hell is going on.
For this early preview VRFocus was introduced to the start of Apex Construct, giving an overview of the story and the basic gameplay mechanics. First off, movement. As both VRFocus and VR players in general expect from big open world VR adventures nowadays locomotion options are important. So there’s the ever faithful teleportation which nips you about the world with ease. There’s also fluid locomotion – switchable in the menu – which at the moment is very basic in functionality. With it on the top of the touchpad activates teleportation, while the rest of the pad makes you walk in the direction being looked at. It’s fairly slow moving currently and as such not uncomfortable. However, as you can see from the screenshots the levels are an undulating labyrinth, so it needs to be used in conjunction with teleport to progress.
As advertised from the first announcement, Apex Construct is a bow and arrow focused title. First impressions are that Fast Travel Games has spent considerable time getting this right, feeling fluid and accurate. Some VR experiences that use a bow (or feature one) can seem cumbersome and slow, that’s certainly not the case here. The main arrows are infinite, while secondary arrows with special abilities have a limited supply but do recharge over time. Important to note is the haptic rumble from the controller as the bow is drawn, giving that sense of tension really does make a difference when gauging the power being put into a shot.
The one drawback with the bow and movement system available is the lack of dodge capabilities when dealing with incoming projectiles – apart from physically ducking. Thankfully, the studio has considered this installing the bow with a shield that can be activated using the trigger, so long as no arrow is being drawn. It’s a cracking little system so that single enemies pose no real danger.
And let’s just talk about the look of it all. Apex Construct is very pretty, almost going so far to say it’s one of the best looking VR videogames VRFocus has come across. The first time the landscape opens up and a wide panoramic view presents itself, it’s hard not to just have a good gander at the bizarre, colourful scene laid out in front. Up close, there’s plenty of detail and decent textures. The robots can only be examined once killed – otherwise they tend to run around shooting – looking even meaner and robust when eye to eye.
There’s a reason Apex Construct made it into VRFocus‘ Best HTC Vive Games Coming in 2018 and this work in progress has shown that its inclusion is deserved. It’s a sci-fi world that certainly looks well worth exploring, so long as there is enough of it with ample gameplay time. This is one VR experience VRFocus is certainly looking forward to.