Sony’s London Studio—who built the well received VR Worlds experiences for PSVR—is back. This time around the studio isn’t building a slew of PSVR samples, but rather a AAA scope action shooter in the same vein as the acclaimed ‘London Heist’ vignette from VR Worlds. This isn’t just more of the same though; what we’ve seen of Blood & Truth so far clearly moves the needle of agency and immersion on PSVR with a slew of smart locomotion mechanics and world interactivity.

Since it’s still in its infancy, VR game design is moving very fast compared to traditional game design. Many VR titles can feel outdated in just a matter of months because of their reliance on ‘old’ VR design techniques.

‘London Heist’, however, wasn’t just good for its time. It still holds up (now over a year old) as one of VR’s most visceral experiences, no doubt thanks to the talented team at Sony’s London Studio.

And the studio hasn’t been resting on their laurels. Instead, they’ve set off to take the lessons they learned from creating ‘London Heist’ and the other VR Worlds experiences and apply it all to a brand new PSVR game which they say is targeting ‘AAA’ quality and scope.

Blood & Truth definitely has the same great look and feel of ‘London Heist’, but it’s actually a brand new universe, new story, and new characters, this time set in modern London. The game, powered by the studio’s in-house engine, sits right up there with the best looking PSVR titles to date.

Image courtesy Sony

While ‘London Heist’ consisted almost entirely of static scenes with no locomotion (fighting from behind a desk, sitting in a chair—save for one scene in a car), Blood & Truth greatly improves agency by letting players move throughout the world with a node-base locomotion system which, crucially, doesn’t rely on teleportation. That’s music to my ears, as I’ve found over the years that teleportation locomotion in VR, while comfortable, tends not to be very immersive since there’s a visual disconnect from one position to the next, which makes the virtual world feel less real.

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The locomotion system in Blood & Truth allows players to look at nodes scattered throughout the environment and press a button to glide toward them at a flat speed. Since you don’t need to think about how to navigate once you initiative a move to a new node, you’re free to continue to watch and engage enemies, whether by sneaking or by force.

But node-to-node isn’t the only way players will move through the world. There’s also situational locomotion. In my hands-on preview of one of the game’s levels, I was sneaking into a casino to find a bad guy and there was a moment where I shot the lock on a ladder to make it fall into position, and then used my hands on the rungs to pull myself up to the next level. Another part of the demo had me pull myself up into an air duct and then use my hands to pull myself through along its length to the other side. These, and I suspect even more moments of situational locomotion, are peppered throughout.

I found the locomotion in Blood & Truth not only comfortable but also immersive. Having the agency to choose where to go from a range of options—and sometimes even reaching out to grab onto the virtual world to help you move through it—makes the world feel much more real than the ‘frame-by-frame’ feeling of teleporting locomotion. And that sets a strong stage for the action, gameplay, and story.

About that… as I mentioned, I was sneaking into a casino to find a bad guy (sounds pretty generic, but this demo was part way through the game, so I’m sure there’s more to learn about the characters and story). I had a silenced pistol on a chest holster, along with some magazines.

After climbing up the ladder I’m confronted with a locked door. Handily, a little tool kit appears, from which I take a lock pick in each hand. Upon inserting the lock picks into the keyhole, I have to turn one into the ‘sweet spot’, and then tilt the other one down to pop the pins up one by one until the lock was opened.

Image courtesy Sony

After getting inside, I crawled my way through the air duct and popped out the other end to find a surveillance camera console which had a series of buttons and a joystick. Clicking the buttons would switch the monitor between various camera views, while I could grab the joystick to pan and tilt the view. This is how I located my target; a man named Keech. To get to him, I’d have to pass through the casino floor, which would put me in close proximity with armed guards. Good thing I have a gun.

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I took an elevator down to the casino floor where the point-and-move locomotion allowed me to choose which cover points I wanted to move to, and I could stay hidden from the guards as long as I timed my movements carefully. As I moved throughout the casino, trying my best to evade the guards, there were several points presented to me where I could plant C4 charges. To do so I had to grab the detonator from a bag and stick it on top of the charge, then stick the charge in the right location. It wasn’t as interesting as the lock picking mechanic, but hey, anything is better than ‘Press X to place C4’.

Alas, one of the guards spotted my poorly-timed move and a gunfight ensued. I pulled out my silenced pistol and, looking down the reflex sight, blasted away at the enemies as we both took cover behind some blackjack tables. Throughout the fight I was able to move to various cover points by pointing and clicking, and I could also ‘strafe’ to points to my left and right without needing to look at them.

Image courtesy Sony

There were times where I looking around a pillar to try to find a new place to move which would make for a good flanking maneuver, but since there was no node I wasn’t able to move where I wanted. As much as this system improves agency of other types of VR locomotion, it should be insulated as much as possible from those sorts of ‘I want to but it won’t let me’ movements.

Shooting the enemies, which convincingly fell limp to the ground upon being dispatched, feels tight and impactful, and was punctuated by a clip-based reloading mechanic which has you remove a magazine from your chest-harness and slide it into the pistol.

With guards no longer standing between me and the elevator up to Keech’s room, I headed up to his floor and confronted him at the door. When he saw me, he began running down the hotel hallways, and the game automatically caused me to chase behind him. What ensued was another smart locomotion scheme which essentially combined on-rails shooting with occasional bouts of the prior node-based cover stuff.

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The on-rails moments allowed me to not think so much about where I was going (since the game was guiding me), but allowed me to soak in all the action of blasting Keech’s goons who were attempting to stop me along the way. As the chase proceeded and I had to take out enemies popping around seemingly every corner and pillar, I noticed a fire extinguisher that was just begging to be shot. As I shot it, the world dropped into slow motion. I could see bullets, smoke, debris, and spent casings delicately dancing through the air. This Matrix moment made me feel like a total badass as I took out the room full of baddies with careful headshots (thanks to the enemies all kindly moving in slow motion for me).

At the end of the chase sequence I confronted Keech, and while his dialogue wasn’t entirely clear to me (since I don’t have the knowledge of the setup just yet), what was clear to me was how great the character looked. While the art style keeps the game’s visuals out of the uncanny valley, the motion-captured performance and excellent facial detail made for a deeply believable character.

– – — – –

Through smart design in both locomotion and agency, Sony’s London Studio is clearly onto something with big potential. From shooting to exploring, I felt engaged with the world of Blood & Truth, which deeply solidified it in my head as a physical place around me. I began to forget about the Move controllers in my hands and instead thought about lock picking, C4 placement, and how many bullets were left in my magazine. Throughout it all, the Move’s limited tracking performance didn’t once rear its head (and issue I’ve had with other PSVR titles). The real world begins to fade away; immersion takes over. This is what VR is for.

The studio isn’t yet talking about a release date (though at this point it would seem 2018 is a safe bet) or price, but this is definitely one to keep your eye on.

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  • Keith.

    Excellent — look forward to it.

  • WhatIsVr

    Sound exaggerated. The game looks good, but not nearly as good as a AAA flat game. I also fail to see how this is much better than other existing VR titles. I don’t see any novel leverage of VR mechanics here. All I see is typical gun play and some basic puzzles.

    Is it just good motion-capture and facial expression? Those are good, but if that’s all there is I don’t think I’ll be as impressed as you.

    • benz145

      AAA isn’t just visuals, it’s polish and scope. Sure a flat game can always look better than one rendered in VR on the same hardware simply because of the higher processing demands of VR, but that doesn’t mean games can look, feel, and play great in VR.

      The developers of Blood & Truth specifically told me that they’re aiming for a AAA experience, and so far the game seems on track to deliver that. Sure, it’s possible the interaction mechanics they showed become too often used and boring, but it’s also possible they add more mechanics throughout to keep things fresh. We’ll have to see how the whole package turns out.

      Did you ever play London Heist (or the other VR Worlds demos)? I think most people can agree that was a well polished experience worth the time. They’re building upon that and so far seem to be doing a good job so I’m encouraged that with more time and resources into Blood & Truth they’ll be able to make an even better experience.

    • Caven

      The London Heist demo had some very nice attention to detail. When talking to a mob boss, if you try to reach for the item he’s holding, he’ll pull it out of reach. There’s a part where you can smoke a cigar, complete with the ability to blow smoke. During a vehicle shootout, the driver leans forward or back as needed to allow you a clear line of fire to the rivals you’re shooting. And the end has three different endings, depending on what you do or don’t do.

      The developers did a really good job of having other characters react to your actions, and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of that. Many of the little touches they do just wouldn’t be possible on a traditional monitor.

    • Mr. New Vegas

      It doesn’t have to, by being VR its already wins in the immersion and fun factor.
      VR doesn’t need no novelty, it just a more immersive way to play games.
      If you take 2 identical games, one is flat and one is VR, the VR one is more fun and immersive

      • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

        giocare re7 normale e poi giocare re7 in VR è come giocare due giochi diversi.è come vedere un film e poi vivere un film …2 mondi diversi!

  • Evgeni Zharsky

    With all these VR titles announced by Sony, it’s interesting to see if Sony is taking the lead in VR? Tempted to take the plunge.

    • ivan

      It won’t, because of hardware

      • kool

        Sony already took the lead…

        • ivan

          Nope

          • kool

            Yup

          • ivan

            It can’t be leader without games.

          • kool

            With a million unit lead… Apparently you can!

          • ivan

            Oculus Gear VR has 10 millions… but that still shitty VR that can’t be leader.

      • Evgeni Zharsky

        Hardware means nothing without the software and games to drive the sales. PSVR is great example of that. What’s the install base of PSVR currently ? Something like Vive and Rift COMBINED.

        • ivan

          It was much cheaper than Oculus or Vive.

          The most install base have Oculus Gear VR then.

          Software much better on PC VR.

        • ivan

          The biggest install base belongs than to Oculus Gear VR.

          • Evgeni Zharsky

            If you mean Samsung gear then maybe. But what does that have to do in regards to this discussion or your earlier comment about hardware power driving VR development ?

  • me

    This is exactly why I have both a psvr and rift. If this is anything like the London Heist it will be amazing! I experienced Heist on the regular PS4 – looking forward to this with the PS Pro!

  • Olymp Medco

    Doesn’t matter! HTC Vive (http://htcvive.com) rocks amongst the three. Oculus Rift (http://oculusrift.com) is a good compromise if you are stretched for money and Sony PSVR (http://sonypsvr.com) if you want a decent VR experience with the lowest VR entry cost.
    More competition coming from others like Samsung, Dell, etc. can only be great news for us all!

    • kool

      Sony has the crowd which is pushing out the vr mantra. The vive is the top tech and the occ rift has the funds to keep devs eating.

    • Evgeni Zharsky

      About to make my first VR purchase and it will most likely be Oculus. I tried the Vive and couldn’t get past the blur and horrible SDE

      • PJ

        The Rift and Vive are both the same in that department.
        There only difference in the actual headset is that the Rift marginally lighter.

        • Evgeni Zharsky

          Dunno..hopefully for me it’ll be better. Been reading from multiple sources that oculus has a slightly less noticeable SDE

          • PJ

            I have owned both, I kept the Rift purely down to the controllers and I like oculus him better than SteamVR (oculus Home is getting better too) but there is no difference between the actual headsets

      • gothicvillas

        wow.. I gave away Rift because of blur and SDE. Got the Vive instead. Its not much better but come on it is better than Rift hands down.

        • Evgeni Zharsky

          I guess i’ll just have to see. Maybe it’s different to everyone but I couldn’t make out half the text in Vive. If Rift doesn’t work for me i guess i’ll just have to wait for Pimax or something.

      • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

        la sfocature e altri problemi non dipendono dai visori ma dalle macchine che oggi giorno,non ce la fanno a gestire tale livello di grafica!si risolverà al 100% tra almeno altri 10 anni…

  • oompah

    even if I had money for PSVR
    where would I find time

    • Evgeni Zharsky

      sounds like a personal problem. Silly post

      • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

        io ho male a un dito alla mano…

    • gothicvillas

      you did find time to post this meaningless comment

      • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

        ahahah…io sono singol e ho tutto il tempo che voglio…se volete fidanzate o moglie e anche giocare alla ps4,avete sbagliato vita………….

        • Evgeni Zharsky

          idk, i’m married and I still have time

          • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

            fantastic for you :)

    • Gus Bisbal

      Why the F@#$ did you ask other people where in your life can you schedule anything.

    • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

      ma chi se ne frega di te?quì si parla di videogiochi e non della vita dei altri!

  • ITALI-LORI-MONTI

    con re7 sono riusciti a fare un capolavoro con movimento tradizionale(fluido)..è possibile che,a parte lo straordinario farpoint,nessun altro voglia seguire le stessa strada ? costa di più?o hai i soldi per fare giochi in VR oppure non li fai ! teletrasporto,rottaia,nodi,alla VR fanno solo del male,come stanno rovinando anche con bravo team!!!mii dispiace per chi soffre di motion sicknes ma i produttori di videogiochi non posso danneggiare chi non ne soffre come me! I GIOCHI PER LA VR VANNO FATTI CON MOVIMENTO FLUIDO,poi possono mettere tutte le regolazioni che vogliono per chi ha dei disturbi.

  • Nate T

    This looks awesome! Now if Sony could only encourage Japan Studios to make an entire PS VR full game from Robots Rescue. I’d happily throw down $40 bucks for a full game of that.