When Survios first showcased its follow up virtual reality (VR) title to the acclaimed Raw Data, few would have believed what was in store. Studios that’ve delved into the realm of VR and created a first-person shooter (FPS) often use this experience to build another title in the same genre, yet the LA-based developer decided instead to tackle one of the problems in VR head-on, and that’s movement, or more accurately fast paced locomotion. So Survios created Sprint Vector, and looking at the current build that decision has payed off.
Sprint Vector made its first public appearance at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2017, impressing those who played it – including VRFocus, check out the first look preview – with its ability to allow fast VR movement without inducing any nausea because of the videogame’s Fluid Locomotion System. While new and unseen in the VR industry at the time, the arm swinging locomotion found in Sprint Vector is no longer unique to the title, with other experiences like Dash Dash Run! and Vindicta both employing similar mechanisms to move around their virtual worlds.
With a year now past since that first reveal the question is now how well does Sprint Vector’s once unique system hold up against its rivals and does it offer enough engrossing gameplay.
This week has seen Survios launch a closed beta for players around the world to get their hands on Sprint Vector for the first time. It’s this build that VRFocus is previewing because it’s the latest iteration, solely looking at the single-player portion of the videogame, with a secondary look at the multiplayer coming latter.
At first glance Sprint Vector has all the hallmarks of Survios’ high quality production values as found in Raw Data. The lobby is bristling with colour and detail, placing you in the centre of a giant arena. Here there’s a floating hub giving access to a tutorial, single-player races, challenges and of course multiplayer. Additionally, there are a wealth of options to investigate such as choosing your character.
In this current beta there are three races to play on single-player, each offering their own landscape design and features. The courses themselves are a winding, undulating mixture that not only test your fitness but also your eye for detail. There are plenty of optional routes to take, both high and low, meaning that until a course is properly learnt finding that perfect line for the best time will take plenty of reruns.
Before mastering the courses you need to learn how to move, and move well. As mentioned the core of the Fluid Locomotion System is swinging your arms – like you’re running – to build momentum. You can’t just do this wildly however as you’ll go nowhere, think of it like cross-county skiing, you have to hold the trigger at the start of the swing then let go at the end. Get the sequence right and Sprint Vector will respond with visual sparks.
The system feels more nuanced than rival videogames using a similar method, requiring a focused approach to gain the speed needed to win, timing is everything. That being said it’s not particularly difficult to pick up. What does take a little more time to hone is the combination of turning and jumping so that they all become one fluid motion. Hit and obstacle, land in an awkward spot and that momentum will be lost, giving rivals a chance to catch up.
Even in its current beta form Sprint Vector still looks very promising. It’s a simple concept turned up to 11, a visual feast for the eyes whilst pitting the body in a virtual Ironman Challenge. And that’s just the single-player. Taking on opponents from around the world should naturally ramp up that element of competition which VRFocus will be testing soon. Needless to say Sprint Vector certainly has the makings of a competitive eSport and a high quality VR experience, which VRFocus will continue reporting on closely.