VR ‘rhythm shooter’ Audica from legendary rhythm game studio Harmonix is now available in Early Access on Steam and the Oculus Store. The studio has already pushed a v0.1.1 patch addressing early player feedback. The studio has also revealed some of what’s in store for an eventual full release.
Following three prior VR titles, Audica is Harmonix’ latest entrant into the VR category, and this time mashes up VR shooting and rhythm gaming into something quite unique.
Our recent preview walks through the game’s mechanics and some of our initial thoughts about the game design, including the top-notch music, strong visual and audio feedback, but also several missteps which prevent a strong feeling of flow as you blast your way through the beat.
Responding to player feedback (aligning with some of our own), Harmonix released a v0.1.1 update just one day after Audica launched in Early Access, bringing the following changes to improve the experience:
- Melee hit detection is now more generous, and the game now re-centers you upon the start of a song to give you the best melee position. (NOTE: we don’t re-center you after choosing “Restart.”)
- Added a “Choose Difficulty” label to Difficulty selection for clarification.
- A setting has been added (“Audio Filtering on Miss”) so that, if unselected, song volume is no longer reduced when missing a target, as some users expressed a preference for this.
- The song’s title is now listed on the Song Leaderboard panel.
- Reduced particle density to improve target readability.
- Tutorial text no longer references specific colors to accommodate players who change their weapon colors before playing the Tutorial.
- Adjusted tutorial text to explain how to avoid arm fatigue.
- Made ‘cue darts’ more noticeable, to better draw your eyes to the area where off-screen targets will be coming from.
- Made authoring adjustments for sections that felt unfair in the following songs:
- 1788-L & Blanke “Destiny”
- Noisia “Collider”
While these changes are a good first step (especially reduced particle density and more visible ‘cue darts’), it feels like broader changes will need to be made before Audica really finds its groove.
Luckily, Harmonix says it’s “looking forward to working closely with you, our community, to shape the course of [Audica’s] development.” The studio promises to monitor player feedback to continue to hone the game throughout the Early Access period. To that end, the studio has created a public task board to show players what’s in development, and is encouraging players to reach out via the official Harmonix Discord server to share feedback.
It isn’t clear yet when Audica will launch out of Early Access, but in addition to responding to player feedback, Harmonix tells Road to VR that it plans to have the following features ready for the full launch:
- 25+ Song Soundtrack (the Early Access launch includes 10 songs)
- Campaign Mode
- Practice Mode
- Additional environments and weapon sets
- Expanded leaderboard functionality
- And possibly other new gameplay mechanics
The Trello board further shows the following features planned:
- Song Previews
- Local/Party Mode
The studio expects that 80% of its launch songs will be licensed tracks, with the rest coming from friends and family of the studio. Harmonix hasn’t announced any plans for custom song support in Audica.