Virtual reality (VR) developers have had a rocky road when it comes to dedicated multiplayer titles. Some like Eve: Valkyrie creator CCP Games found early success garnering a strong community out of the limited number of players. As more players have entered the fold this has been somewhat easier to achieve as social experiences like Rec Room have taken off. Even so, producing a pure multiplayer title is still a risky business when it comes to VR, and one that indie studio The Strike Team has taken on with its Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), Conjure Strike.
Much like other videogames of this ilk Conjure Strike offers a range (albeit limited) of objective-based modes for teams to win. In its current Early Access form the experience has Capture the Flag and King of the Hill style modes to compete in. However, these have been adapted to offer further gameplay strategy. So while Capture the Flag requires each team to secure a crystal and take it back to their base this only unlocks the next phase, dropping their opponent’s shield that once encircled their base, opening it up for destruction. If both teams have collected the crystal then they can either choose to defend or attack.
It’s this kind of gameplay switching which shows The Strike Team is trying to offer that little something extra with Conjure Strike’s design to keep gameplay fresh and frantic. This can also be seen in the design of the levels and movement system. Movement is zero-g based, so you can fly into the sky or keep things ground level. Unlike low-gravity experiences such as Lone Echo there’s no floating around involved, you can strafe and move forwards/backwards just like a regular first-person shooter (FPS). The difference comes by the movement direction being gaze based, look forward and that’s where you’ll go, look up and it’s time to start flying around and explore the different routes the two levels that are currently available offer.
Locomotion isn’t particularly fast which makes for a comfortable experience even in the heat of a fire fight, the trade off to this is the fact that traversing the levels can be somewhat slow and laborious. This can also have a dramatic effect on the character class you chose and how you tactically play.
There are three classes to select, Mage Hunter is the first and easiest to learn. With a decent mid-range pistol for those who like to keep their distance. While the Earth Warden comes equipped with a shotgun for maximum close range damage. As such, the latter class is good for ambushing round corners lower to the ground rather than taking a lofty unprotected route for example. Adding to this each Conjure Strike class has three magical abilities that offer various defensive and offensive capabilities once charged. So the Mage Hunter has a magical sword that can kill in one strike should you get close enough, and the Earth Warden can put down turrets to defend a location – these can then be detonated for secondary damage.
If you’ve ever played Shadow Run on console then you’ll understand the feel Conjure Strike seems to be going for. Conjure Strike is like a plucky little VR experience that’s eager to take on more well-known titles, with new and interesting ideas. Hopefully The Strike Team can beef up the content in a well-timed fashion as two levels certainly won’t be enough to sustain a reasonable player community.