Big guns, big bugs, and a few mates all make for an exhilarating VR adventure.
Virtual reality (VR) first-person shooters (FPS) have certainly come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, slowly moving away from fixed wave-based videogames to experiences that are far more engaging and fluid. Upcoming titles like Archiact’s Evasion and Farhome by DEVCUBESTUDIO show what’s coming in the future, and as for the present Drifter Entertainment’s first VR project Gunheart has all the hallmarks of an exciting sci-fi shooter.
To say that Drifter Entertainment has a pedigree in FPS videogames is somewhat of an understatement, the team is made up of VR veterans from Epic Games, Oculus and Microsoft who have worked on Gears of War, Doom 3, Halo 4, and Bullet Train. That history is noticeable throughout Gunheart, from the gritty neon lit hub of The Bent Horizon to the open sprawling levels, and veritable selection of weapons and upgrades available.
Gunheart certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously, aiming to provide an arcade style shooting experience that’s ideal for drop in and drop out gameplay, whether you just want a quick half hour blast, or to go on some epic team missions. As mentioned The Bent Horizon is your hub and starting point. Kitted out like some futuristic dive bar where only the nastiest of criminals would venture, everything is neatly laid out so you can upgrade your rig, change guns or hangout with other players.
While there is some sort of storyline about you being a bounty hunter and some alien race coming down to create all sorts of havoc, the only thing you need to concern yourself with is cash. Nothing comes for free and that’s especially so if you want to buy the latest armaments to be a badass bounty hunter. To earn cash you need to complete missions, either by yourself or with a few teammates if any are around. Each mission isn’t massively long – averaging around 20 to 30 minutes each – yet Drifter Entertainment has added a few extras to make them more than just A to B killing romps.
Missions have Elite and Speed modes available to earn more cash, and for those eagle eyed players there are plenty of money canisters littered around the levels to up that total even further. Being the multiplayer title that it is, Gunheart also features PvP battle modes for when hunting aliens gets a little too samey and monotonous.
These tend to come into effect after a few levels due to the way the aliens have been designed. While the actual environments are gloriously winding and varied at points, offering plenty of tactile points to move between – rather than just walking into a death trap valley – most of the creatures do tend to have that alien bug mechanic of running at you until one of you is dead. Some of the bigger creatures do occasionally go for cover but not for long.
One of the best features about the gun fights in Gunheart is the movement. Of course there’s teleportation for maximum comfort – it’s also needed to get to some of the trickier ledges – alongside smooth locomotion for that true FPS feel. Additionally, there’s also a double jump option which is very rarely seen in VR shooters. This helps to open up the maps enormously, being able to leap considerable distances.
What did spoil Gunheart’s gameplay however was latency. VRFocus always runs on a min spec PC to make sure what the developers claim can run a VR experience actually can. On HTC Vive there wasn’t an issue with the graphics controls on low. With Oculus Rift however, with the same settings the visuals looked better yet at points the latency made trying to shoot anything almost impossible.
Gunheart has a lot going for it, visually well designed with decent gunplay mechanics and enough content to keep most players happy for several hours. There are bugs and some optimisation issues – just having a better than min spec PC might work – yet the overall experience is still very enjoyable. Certainly Gunheart’s main hook is the easy, drop in co-op gameplay, yet there’s not always many people about, an issue a lot of VR multiplayers suffer with.