Preview: Telefrag – Testing Those VR Limits to the Max
FPS gameplay that makes teleportation deadly.
Over the years virtual reality (VR) developers have learnt what’s comfortable and what’s not, tuning their immersive experiences so that the majority of players find it comfortable. Then there are those studios who do seem to like throwing caution to the wind, creating a videogame that pushes the boundaries of VR comfort to their very limits. Anshar Studios happens to be one of these, making a name for itself with zero-gravity combat title Detached last year. For Gamescom 2018 the team had another multiplayer experience, this time with a lot more gravity and head-twisting gameplay, Telefrag.
To say that Anshar Studios is being bold with its next venture is by no means an understatement, as Telefrag – even in its pre-alpha version – is looking to break the first-person shooter (FPS) mould with its level design and gameplay. The team essentially seem to be taking what they’ve learnt from Detached and built an arena shooter with one vs one combat.
Firstly, let’s talk about the videogame’s core mechanic, the telefrag. Currently movement is via very short teleportation jumps, whether that’s forwards, backwards or strafing left to right. You then have the option to telefrag by holding down the left Oculus Touch trigger (HTC Vive and PlayStation VR will also be supported). This unlocks a couple of options, the first being a much longer distance teleport for quick evasion or attack. The second is as a weapon. Spot an enemy and highlight them to instantaneously smash right into them. In the Gamescom build this meant instant death, so the VRFocus team great fun hopping around the arena trying to kill one another in a single hit.
This really did nullify the need for weapons but Anshar Studios did admit the feature was a little too powerful and would be turned down in the final version, they just hadn’t decided by how much, just not instant death.
The actual guns themselves were your bog standard Pistol, Assault Rifle and Rocket Launcher, each one selectable as a loadout prior to each map. Each match was three rounds, and upon death you could choose a different loadout to restart with, just not the same one, forcing players away from their favourite loadout to mix things up.
However there are two parts to Telefrag. While the movement design could be used across normal flat levels that’s just a little too plain for Anshar Studios. Instead the one level that was available, was a twisted and contorted maze that could almost give you a headache looking at it. Looking like an insane racetrack for Micro Machines, the floors, walls and ceilings all curved into one another, meaning you could either dash about with the whole world twisting when you came to a new vertical panel or telefrag to new surfaces.
Those who particularly suffer from VR nausea will probably read this with fright, so it’s difficult to tell how well Anshar Studios’ efforts to mitigate these issues have gone for those who are highly sensitive. On the other hand, the VRFocus team had no issues whatsoever, playing several matches in a row with no side effects.
If you’ve played Detached then you’ll know the quality level that Anshar Studios is capable of producing and even at this early stage Telefrag looks to be coming along nicely. Will Telefrag suit everyone, well that’s difficult to tell? It’s certainly going to enter a genre that’s becoming ever more competitive when it does launch, so having such a radical design might be just what’s needed.