Frank He goes hands on with Wands, a new PvP Gear VR title from NUX Studios which pitches you against your opponent in a magical duel to the death.
VRLA’s Summer Expo this year offered up a raft of new VR content, but one of the lesser known titles might be Wands by NUX Studios. It’s a PvP title for Gear VR with a steampunk art style, a spectator application for non-VR users (the first of its kind for a Gear VR game), and of course, magic wands. The title is scheduled for release on August 18 for the Gear VR, with other VR platforms under consideration in addition to motion controller support in the future.
I had the opportunity to try the game, which exhibits looks seemingly too beautiful to be running on a mobile VR platform. From my time with Wands however, the visuals really do impress.
The gameplay however, given it’s mobile VR platform, is perhaps predictably simple, with control options available both gamepad or just with the touch pad alone. You, the player, select different spells that you can carry with you to a duel by switching out components on your wand, and when in the battle. You can press a button or swipe on the touch pad to open up a radial menu for selecting what spell you want to use, then press another button or tap the touchpad in order to use that spell. Teleportation also counted as a selectable spell.
What all of that means is that you can really only do one thing at a time. Either you can be teleporting, or you can be using one of your spells. There are set teleportation points on the map as well, so you don’t quite have complete freedom to walk around yet. The spells themselves are varied and do different kinds of things. Some let you project a magical shield, while others can summon stone turrets. There’s the standard fireball spell too.
Wands has you battling against one player at a time in a match, so there’s no co-op or team play modes here. When asked, the developers said that they found that the balance for their game mechanics worked best with one-on-one style play. Nevertheless they acknowledged that this could change in the future. They’re also looking at cross platform multiplayer, although balancing concerns may prevent this from happening, given the different potential control options available and the advantages they may present.
There were 3 maps in total, which will be the only ones in the first release of the game until they update with more content. Overall, despite a certain lack of depth in the gameplay and the maps being somewhat small, what I saw, to me, still represented a fun experience – something you might play for an hour or so. Something unique that Wands offers however (for a Gear VR game at least) is the ability to show it off in a social environment, representing a unique advantage of this game.
That’s because Wands offers a a special spectator feature which allows others to watch what the player is seeing and doing, displayed via a host application on a networked PC. This might be the first Gear VR game to do this in a commercial title. The PC host application works by receiving tracking data and other gameplay events broadcast wirelessly from the Gear VR. This data is then used to render a view of the virtual world mirroring that seen by the player, all in real time.
On a related note, some might remember that Univrses, a company specializing in mobile positional tracking solutions, had announced Wands would be one of the first titles to feature their technology. This is now not the case, at least not for the title’s launch, although developers NUX Studios point out that a future implementation is not ruled out and that their work with Univrses continues.
Wands launches for Gear VR via the Oculus Store on August 18th.