Korean developer SKonec Entertainment has a long and varied history in virtual reality (VR) development, having released first-person shooter (FPS) Mortal Blitz VR for Samsung Gear VR back in 2015. The studio has developed other titles since then but the Mortal Blitz franchise remains a core IP, especially when it comes to location-based entertainment (LBE). The latest instalment is a player versus player (PvP) title called Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz showcasing how well SKonec knows VR technology.
Currently, all of SKonec Entertainment’s VR LBE offerings are only available in its home territories. However, the recent Gamescom 2019 event in Cologne, Germany proved to be the perfect opportunity to demo arcade content to Europeans. Whilst not being able to offer the same lavish space-consuming attraction found in Korean arcades, the setup was ample enough to test Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz.
The videogame can normally accommodate up to four players but in this instance, there was only space for two. Honestly, this may have worked in Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz’ favour, providing a deadly game of cat and mouse across the single arena. Offering a pure deathmatch mode that was exceptionally fast and energetic, the rounds only lasted a couple of minutes. Once complete the desire to jump right back in was unmistakable.
Just like any good VR arcade experience which involves multiplayer Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz’ controls were easy to pick up for newbies, yet the gameplay was dynamic enough so that VR veterans could always enjoy a few matches.
For comfort Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz offers fixed point-to-point teleportation locations, set atop hexagonal pillars which were at various heights. This gave the arena a very tight, undulating topography which could mean at any given second you could either gain or lose the high ground making getting those kills a whole lot trickier.
When the match starts you automatically came equipped with pistols for both hands. While quite effective when getting a few headshots in, every time you teleport to a new spot a defensive light barrier appeared to hide behind. While destructible, without a decent line of sight the pistols were less than effective against the barriers, which is where all the other weapons came into play.
This being a competitive arcade multiplayer, SKonec has placed shotguns, miniguns and other weapons towards the map extremities. They couldn’t be picked up instantly though, locked via a timer. As such you weren’t simply able to ‘tool up’ and find your opponent, having to carefully dart around the arena to grab a gun at the opportune moment. For those lucky enough, at the very centre of the arena was the most destructive weapon, a huge plasma gun which fired a massive ball of purple energy. Relatively slow, when used correctly it offered a one-hit kill, instantly disintegrating the light barrier and enemy cowering behind it (very satisfying).
More importantly Battle Arena: Mortal Blitz was just great fun to play. With an awesome looking sci-fi, neon theme, matches were brutal, exciting and leave you with a big smile (winning does help). What’s a real shame at the moment is you need to go to South Korea to play it. There are lots of good VR arcade experiences in Europe and the US, one more definitely won’t hurt. When that will happen is a question SKonec Entertainment has yet to answer.