If you’re just getting into VR, chances are you haven’t played Asgard’s Wrath, the Meta-funded RPG from Sanzaru Games that came exclusive to Oculus Rift in 2019. At the time, the 30+ hour adventure was one of the first VR games of ‘AAA’ scope, basically setting the bar for what was possible in VR. Take it from us: Sanzaru has done it again, this time creating the next big benchmark to beat for games on Quest.

I’ve only played a little over eight hours of Asgard’s Wrath 2 by now, which is why this is a ‘hands-on’ and not a proper review. The sequel is touted to take 100+ hours of questing, looting, dungeon-crawling, and hack-slashing your way through what thus far doesn’t feel like a “Quest game,” a denomination that should be smaller, lower-poly, much less vibrant and reactive—if only by virtue of the humble mobile chipset within.

Ok, when I say “should”, I’m taking about what used to be the case. It’s clear developers are well along their way to cracking that particular nut and making Quest games that approach the vibrancy and detail of PC VR. And while you don’t need a hundred million dollars of development budget to reach those visual heights (see Red Matter 2 on Quest), it’s certainly required to reach the sort of scale and depth Asgard’s Wrath 2 has achieved.

Here’s how Sanzaru describes it: Awaken, Cosmic Guardian – The fate of reality lies in your hands. Travel across vast realms inhabited by the gods in pursuit of the Trickster God Loki, who threatens to undo the threads of the universe. It’s up to you to battle gods and monsters alike as you take on one of the biggest and most epic scale Action RPGs ever experienced in VR. Alongside legendary Egyptian gods, you’ll fight deadly warriors and awe-inspiring mythical creatures through physics-based, visceral combat with unique weapons and playstyles. Possess unique mortal heroes and convert loyal animals into your own warrior followers as you explore a massive, free-roaming and living world and solve mind-bending god-scale puzzles.

At least this far in my journey to beat the full-length game, Asgard’s Wrath 2 seems to have more of everything. More opportunities for dungeoning abound, as there seems to be plenty of hidden areas to clear, environmental puzzles to solve, and treasures to loot beyond those in the main quest line. Maps are also more expansive, making it feel more like an open-world game; it’s not, but it still feels impressively large.

And while there’s plenty of subsystems to bite into (more on that in the review) the one thing the sequel seems to have stepped away from was combat complexity—which I think overall is a good thing. The sequel is decidedly more approachable than the original Asgard’s Wrath, which heavily focused on a parrying system where you were it was nearly impossible to knock down enemy armor with standard strikes before getting to the soft underbelly of an enemy. You would have to parry, or block just right to leave their defenses down.

Image courtesy Meta

Here, you can choose to parry, or otherwise hack and slash away to slowly knock down shield defenses, which diminishes the skill ceiling somewhat to encounters (on normal settings), but still manages to provide the option if you want the most efficient way of ganking any given enemy. In the end, how you take on enemies is up to you, which feels like a nice compromise. If it feels too cheap, you’re may not be engaging with the combat system as intended. Whatever the case, combat is physical and fluid, so make room far away from TVs, monitors, children, pets, and anything else you don’t want sufficiently punched.

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Besides taking on the wide array of normal enemies, there have been some genuine ‘wow’ moments thanks to some absolutely massive bosses, which so far feel like genuine encounters, and not pre-planned, end-of-level things that would otherwise feel a little too ‘gamey’. It all feels pretty epic, which is such a nice change of pace on Quest since an overwhelming majority of Quest games tend to be constricted by budget, making them shorter and smaller in scope.

Image courtesy Meta

Still, Asgard’s Wrath 2 relies on a lot of traditional gaming tropes, although many have been translated well enough to VR to make them feel sufficiently native. Take for example cutscenes. The adventure RPG is rightfully full is full of them, but instead of being stuck looking at dudes overacting on a virtual stage, or being warped around the environment to see different ‘camera’ angles like many games which just don’t understand our heads aren’t cameras, instead you’re viewing the action in a way that feels more natural to VR. Cutscenes almost always feature linear forward movement, like riding on the back of a bird and watching a stylized encounter in a key character’s memory.

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One of the neat things about AW2 is the mass of environment puzzles, many of which require you to possess your god form and in a sort of single-player co-op guide your little mortal to the objective. This may be figuring out a hook and pulley system, or moving stones to correctly balance giant set of scales, meanwhile repossessing your mortal form to pull a lever, or jump on a platform to move forward. I’m still just getting through the meat of the game, but so far it feels sufficiently chocked full of these puzzling opportunities.

Besides the main questline, buried within the game is also a roguelike mini-game that puts your dungeoning to the test against a world leaderboard. You can choose to engage with this or not, just know that if you do you can actually grind out stuff to keep, which will make your forward progress through the game easier.

Image captured by Road to VR

In the end, I can’t wait to dedicate more time to playing Asgard’s Wrath 2 all the way through for my final review. Where other games would have ended, or otherwise left us on a cliff hanger, it feels like this the bigger (and possibly better) sequel is just starting to peel back the layers to reveal an epic that I definitely can say is worth the hype and the time to play it. It’s also worth investing in a long cable or some battery headstrap, lest you hope to recharge your headset at least 50 times before the end credits roll.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • wowgivemeabreak

    The first Asgard’s Wrath is IMO, the most overrated game in all of VR as it was all scope and scale with mediocre and often clunky gameplay, so I have low expectations for this yet hope it reaches and surpasses them. I got it with my Quest 3 purchase but have yet to install it and try it out.

    • Andrey

      Dude, I just finished AW1 the other day and I totally agree. After so many years this game still has gamebreaking bugs (like in the second saga about the old man you need to place a torch on the pedestal BUT IT’S JUST NOT WORKING, so you need to LITERALLY get through the virtual wall by walking in reality, spawn your companion inside of the cave and only then you can proceed, though you won’t get 100% completion of the story then – I faced it myself and found the topic on Reddit or whatever with this solution from developers themselves dated 2019 – even 4 years later this “AAA” game still has something like this in it! Or during the saga with the dark elf my game sudennly started to crash sometimes and it hitted me especially hard when I was doing Valkyrie Challenge and it crashed on 48 kill – I just deleted it instantly), not to mention all the problems with optimization and generally pretty stupid gameplay loop of “parry to remove shield -> kill”, especially when parry not working properly either becaue of 45 fps or that you are too close/too far (though enemy can reach you and deal damage but you can’t parry that strike) or for whatever reason.
      I started AW2 yesterday and… it’s not that better really. Graphics aside, now it’s artificially extended by adding more and bigger rooms with the same puzzles and enemies + “parkour”, probably just to reach this “60 hours of gameplay” goal they promised. I played like for 3 hours or so and only reached the main tower (and tried this horrendous rogulite mode), yet I still haven’t got even one companion and wasn’t able to inspect the “open world” myself, but from reading what non-fanatics think about it… it should be pretty empty and very repetitive.
      Imo, if we are talking about RPGs (not the graphics, but gameplay/mechanics, etc.) even something like vanilla Oblivion/Skyrim will mop the floor with AW2. And some people even dare to compare it to Breath of the Wild or Tears of the Kingdom…
      Generally, if the game will continue as I imagine it to be based on those three hours – it’s most definitely not a 10/10 VR masterpiece some people try to make you think it is.

      • Gonzax

        I finished the first AW without any issues and it was fantastic. Regarding the combat, I hated it until I switched to what they call ‘easy’ mode which is actually what in any other game would be ‘normal mode’. It eliminates the need for parrying in order to cause damage and is way more dynamic and fun than the default mode.

        Without that change I probably wouldn’t have played longer than 3 hours but as I said, I played 40+ hours and had a great time with it. No bugs, no issues of any kind and it looked amazing.

        The only thing I didn’t like was the slow movement and absence of a run button but other than that it was great.
        AW2 I have only played for 30′ because I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow and I prefer to play the game with no hurries after the New year but I liked what I saw a lot.

        • namekuseijin

          > switched to what they call ‘easy’ mode which is actually what in any other game would be ‘normal mode’. It eliminates the need for parrying in order to cause damage and is way more dynamic and fun than the default mode

          you guys will enjoy it then that this is the default mode in AW2, no need to parry to cause damage

          it’s not normal mode, it’s indeed easy. Which is why so many bitched at Arashi and AC Nexus.

          fun in games to me is challenging combat and deep exploration. AW2 exploration is very extensive and fun and combat is easier, but it flows great and it couldn’t really be about parrying as it’s not a stealth game and action gets way more hectic and fast paced than those games. It’s easier one on one but very dangerous given incessant hordes…

          all in all, extremely well balanced and fluid. It just flows great like any great game

    • Pab

      people just like vikings

    • kakek

      I agree. Didn’t even finish AW1. And yet I am pleasantly surprised by AW2 so far.
      It has better rythm, level design, and combats.
      It’s a much better game overall.

    • Rosko

      I agree, voice acting is dire, gameplay dire. Over-rated by Oculus fanboys.

  • Arno van Wingerde

    It is truly gorgeous and shows what the Quest 2 and 3 can do (it is not optimized for Q3). I find the god + hero combo a bit confusing, but I am thrilled to have a beginners’ option (“Story”) where I actually get to see more than the first 5% of a game… The overall experience is absolutely overwhelming. The game also shows what Q2/Q3 cannot do: although the figures looks beautiful, the backgrounds are kept a bit soft and muted (like the tavern where the game starts) in order to use the meager contrast of the LCD screens to their fullest extend and make the characters stand out. This game would look even better on the OLED screen of the PSVR2 set, and the Q3 disappointingly lacks but obviously that is not going to happen any time soon.

  • MackRogers

    trash game

    • JakeDunnegan

      Wow, you’re really elevating the conversation here!

      Any particular reason it’s a trash game? Considering it was just released a few days ago, have you installed it and played it?

    • Juan Ritz

      Is it just me or are trolls becoming extremely lazy?

      • Isaac

        Yeah, at least ViRGiN is funny and puts some effort into it.

        • dextrovix

          He’s as much of a bellend as most trolls to be fair. I thought he’d be tossing himself silly over this article’s positively towards Meta.

          • Simplex

            He is extremely disturbed individual. I hope he gets help.

          • ViRGiN

            Not my type of game, but it’s done well. And didn’t cost me anything. Still much more fun than Alyx ever was to me.

    • Foreign Devil

      replace your cookie monster with Oscar the Grouch. It would suit you better.

    • Simplex

      trash comment

      • Arno van Wingerde

        Sorry, I put in exactly the same comment, then saw yours a bit below….

        • Simplex

          Great minds think alike :)

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Trash comment.

  • CURTROCK

    From the very first seconds after launching this game, the immersion factor goes Off-The-Charts! This game is a triumph for stand-alone VR, and raises the bar significantly. I literally cannot view flat screen gaming the same way, after playing AW2-there is just no comparison . The promise of VR from day 1 was to make you feel like you are “in” the game, rather than just watching it. Asgard’s Wrath delivers on that promise, more than any other VR game I’ve ever played.

  • Ballsy VR

    I really want to play this game, but the colours are just too much, even the screenshots make me feel nauseous, couldn’t they have toned it down a bit? I’m sure the graphics didn’t need to be so garish. Yes, I’m aware this is a ‘me’ problem, but surely I can’t be the only one turned off by it.

    • Justin Davis

      Those screenshots have vibrance/saturation turned up. The game doesn’t look like that.

    • Arno van Wingerde

      It looks fantastic! If you must you can tone down settings on your Quest. The thing is that the LCD panels are not very good, so in order to get optimal levels of contrast they pop the colors of the main characters.

    • Rob

      I am an experienced VR gamer and rarely experience dizziness. But with this game I did at some point. I turned of quest 3 advanced graphics and used comfort mode with tunelling 30% in ingame settings. Also switched in quest settings to night mode. I dont use the ladders anymore. It changed a lot. Now well playable.
      Personally I dont think it are the colours that make you dizzy tough.

  • PCVR

    I look at what happened to the PCVR I spent money on and just feel depressed about all of this standalone crap, and no I am not responsible for others, even though people like to make that a cheap attack, that PCVR gamers don’t buy enough games and just buy better VR headsets or PC hardware to run the games better.

    I hate that some people insist that there just has to be standalone, with many people arguing with me in the past that it won’t affect PCVR, etc etc, same as what happened with PCs and consoles, with developers following the cheap, mass market devices for sales, and thereby affecting the PC platform regardless of what random youtubers or random people on reddit arguing with me said. Some people said to me when the Quest 2 was released, “give the developers a chance to make money in Zuckerberg’s walled garden for a bit, and then they will return to make something great on PC”. Yeah right, I didn’t believe that then and definitely do not believe it now with how many studios have been bought by Facebook.

    I have watched Windows Mixed Reality start with a few choices of headset, started with the original Samsung Odyssey, ended up with the Reverb G2 V2 which I have, but there are no new WMR headsets. For SteamVR native headsets, I had a Vive Pro and eventually ended up with a Valve Index kit.
    There are no new native SteamVR headsets either, the Index is the newest one that I would consider affordable. Meaning I am ignoring the absurdly priced enterprise VR headsets like the Varjo Aero or plain expensive headsets like the BigScreen Beyond.

    Otherwise I have to use HTC’s stupid Vive Console, if I want to buy a Vive Pro 2, which is the only relatively affordable “upgrade” from my Reverb G2 and Index and that headset has many problems because HTC couldn’t think to use a black Cosmos Elite style enclosure to dissipate heat, instead they used the Vive Pro enclosure originally designed for the old OLED panels.

    I am just waiting for people to use the usual stupid hype buzzwords for this mobileVR game, such as “game changer” etc and ignoring the fact we cannot see the game uncompressed on a PCVR headset. Which is just as well, if the PCVR image looked better, that makes Zuckerberg’s low contrast standalone crap look bad, which for as flawed as Asgards Wrath 1 is, it looks much better through my Reverb G2 than my Valve Index, both at 100% SteamVR resolution.

    Some people have asked me why not try out the DPVR E4 which is the PCVR equivalent to the Quest 2.

    It looks interesting but I am just not interested in throwing more money around buying that especially since they did not upgrade it to aspheric or pancake or flat lenses, it still uses a type of fresnel.

    • ViRGiN

      > I am just waiting for people to use the usual stupid hype buzzwords for this mobileVR game, such as “game changer” etc and ignoring the fact we cannot see the game uncompressed on a PCVR headset.

      I am not going to use hype buzzwords, but blunt truthful honesty – nobody gives a flying F about you obese, unshowered pc master race manchildren.

    • namekuseijin

      send your complaints to Lord Gaben

  • Andrey

    Well, apparently next year, at least Meta said that “there won’t be Q3 exlusives until 2024”. But I highly doubt that it will happen sooner than fall-winter of 2024 (so probably there won’t be anything shown regarding that topic even during MQGS) and it most definitely will be just one project from Meta with goal to maintain it’s image (like it was with RE4VR). So our only hope are independent developers that will try to create a project so advanced that it just won’t run on Q2 thus will automatially become Q3 exclusives, I guess? But, again, it won’t happen anytime soon, so we are on the “edge of generations” (=we are going to play on Q3 with graphics from Q2) for the foreseeable future, because even “AAA” devs don’t want to enchance graphics for Q3 especially on release of their projects.

  • namekuseijin

    it’s a God of War/Botw mashup and as epic as that sounds

    too bad there are not enough actual gamers in VR to enjoy this, but luckily it’s their loss, not mine

    as for people who cover VR medium and don’t enjoy games I suggest covering the medium and leaving the games to those who enjoy it

  • namekuseijin

    there will be no games targeting Q3 for quite awhile. Enjoy higher resolution in the crossgen games while you can…

  • Rob

    Without a doubt the best game of 2023. And one of the top 5 VR games ever made. In the same league as Half life alyx, flight simulator vr, astrobot rescue mission and skyrim vr. Amazing landscapes, story, characters, VR interactions, visuals and sound. Also great game mechanics that match that of the best normal flatscreen games. Minor drawbacks are there are no save options and the quest 3 advanced visuals are not good yet and make me feel dizzy. But with standard visuals well playable. Score 10/10.

  • Yeshaya

    Are you still working on a full review?

  • D-_-RAiL

    Don’t have to pay to leave a comment here.