Preview: Evasion – A Visual Spectacle for HTC Vive Pro

It doesn’t just look good, it’s damn enjoyable to.

Videogames don’t need to be visually beautiful to be good, but it sure doesn’t hurt their chances if they edge towards jaw dropping. At the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018 the HTC Vive Pro headset was out in force – it was on almost every stand that was demoing virtual reality (VR) – showcasing its improved screen and ergonomics. One developer using the headset was Archiact, demoing its upcoming first-person shooter Evasion, and from this first look, the headset and videogame are a perfect match.

Evasion

GDC 2018 isn’t the first time VRFocus has got its hands on Evasion, demoing the title in the latter half of 2017 on both the standard HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. This time however Archiact had a bit more of the title to show off as well as demonstrating the virtues of HTC Vive Pro.

To begin with VR was never the natural home of first-person shooters (FPS) like Call of Duty or Halo. Yet as time has gone on that’s slowly begun to change with developers moving away from stationary or teleportation mechanics to smooth locomotion, offering a far more involved and immersive way of exploring virtual worlds. Of course this still isn’t to everyone’s liking, certain players can’t deal with the latter control scheme and this is where Archiact has got you all covered. Before you do anything the demo pretty much starts with the movement mechanics rather than trying to find them in an options menu. This really shows Archiact is keen for everyone to have an enjoyable experience with Evasion, with just about every conceivable locomotion option available.

Being the diehard VR gamers we are VRFocus went full smooth locomotion, with the walking speed and touchpad sensitivity feeling perfectly tuned for the firefight that lay ahead. A virtual shooting range was presented to get a feel for the gunplay and enemies that would be encountered, learning how the shield hand could be used to drag in items dropped from kills. VRFocus’ last demo centred around team-based co-operative gameplay, while the GDC experience was mostly solo until the very end when one of the Archiact team jumped in as well.

Evasion Screenshot #1

This time all four classes – Striker, Surgeon, Engineer and Warden – were available to choose from, each offering their own unique gun and secondary fire feature, all of which could be tested on the gun range before heading out for the main assault.

Having used the HTC Vive since launch and being accustomed to its visual fidelity there was certainly a ‘wow’ moment stepping out into Evasion’s alien world, it looked so crisp and vivid that it’s was easy to forget this demo was being held in GDC. Screenshots of VR titles can sometimes look far better than what’s actually presented, this was like being inside a screenshot. That’s all good for when things are stationary and gentile, but what about the action? Suffice it to say that didn’t disappoint, both on the headset side and the actual gameplay as well.

The action is fast and fluid – very much like Halo – with a range of aerial and ground based enemies to deal with. Gun accuracy was spot on so that distance shots didn’t feel like a roll of the dice. And it was nice to see some destructible scenery, with enemies hiding behind concrete blocks that could be chipped away at.

If Evasion had appeared a year ago it would have been ground breaking, yet maybe 12 months ago a title like this couldn’t have been made. The VR industry moves fast however, with the title now having to compete against the likes of DOOM VFR and Fallout 4 VR. That’s not to say it can’t make a sizable impression when it does eventually launch. If you do plan on getting the HTC Vive Pro, Evasion is one experience that’ll likely be a demo necessity.

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