New ‘Bonelab’ Trailer Reveals Surprise Release Date, Unique Avatar-swapping Gameplay


Bonelab the anticipated followup to VR physics sandbox adventure Boneworks (2019), is due to launch next week after a surprise release date announcement from developer Stress Level Zero. Along with the game’s release date, new Bonelab gameplay shows a unique avatar-swapping mechanic.

Developer Stress Level Zero has been quietly toiling away on Bonelab over the last few years… perhaps too quietly. So we’re surprised to see the studio today announce a sudden release date for Bonelab: next week on Thursday, September 29th. The game is set to launch simultaneously on Quest 2 and SteamVR (the original Quest will not be supported).

Alongside the release date announcement, the studio also dropped the best look at Bonelab gameplay yet, featuring a unique avatar-swapping mechanic which allows players to quickly switch between various characters with unique sizes and attributes.

The fluidity of avatar-swapping, combined with Stress Level Zero’s signature shooting and physics-driven gameplay, looks like a really interesting combination that we can’t wait to try.

Bonelab is the clear followup to Boneworks, a physics sandbox adventure that pushed the limit of physical simulation for gameplay interaction in VR, a method that we found could be both magical and frustrating in our full review of the game.

Image courtesy Stress Level Zero

There’s little info on the scope of the game beyond the gameplay trailer above and the nuggets of info shared on the game’s official Steam and Quest store pages:


Sentenced to death, you embody an outcast escaping fate. Discovering a pathway to a hidden underground research facility. A series of challenging experiments and discoveries await. A road to the truth calls from the void.

Physics to the core

Boneworks’ realistic physics systems fully improved and polished. Interact with the game world with consistent confidence.

Visceral VR combat

Using a variety of ranged, melee, and exotic physics weapons, engage enemy encounters with an entire armory at your disposal.

Be anyone you want

Custom avatar importing enables you to play through the game looking however you want, with physical stats to match.

Layered Narrative

After discovering an underground lab in MythOS city, you will have access to a variety of game locations including arenas, obstacle courses, tactical trials, sandboxes, experimental modes, and user generated levels. Collecting items, avatars, and clues from these locations enable you to progress through the mysterious story.

In addition to its release on PC VR, Bonelab is the first time the franchise will launch on Quest 2 and we’re looking forward to seeing how the standalone headset handles the game’s heavily physics-driven gameplay.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Cl

    Best trailer ever

    • Ookami


  • Wow that’s so soon! Very excited

  • 3872Orcs

    Looks very good! But the game need more variation in enemies.

    Also I hope the performance issues I had with Boneworks is somehow fixed in this. For some weird reason the game was very hit and miss with performance on my system which should be more than good enough to handle the game. The last level with the flying contraption was just a horrible mess of lag, I could not finish the game for that reason.

    • NL_VR

      The flying map was a sandbox map, not part of the storymode

      • 3872Orcs

        No, there’s a flying machine up the stairs at the last level, it requires 3 batteries to work. I never got to try and fly it because that part of map is just lagging to much for me to be playable. I tried to link to the part in a youtube playtrough but my comment got deleted. Just go look for yourself.

        • NL_VR

          Ah yes you are right.
          But you dont need to fly it to finnish the level. At least what I remember and I have finished the game

  • ZeePee

    To me it looks like Boneworks may have better graphics.

    I never played Boneworks but want to try it. Wondering if I should just get this instead, as it’s the successor so, should be better.

    But something tells me, looking at the trailer and gameplay, and the fact that it’s a Quest 2 game, that this will actually be limited compared to Boneworks. Same physics, sure. But in terms of the size of the areas perhaps, and in terms of the graphics and therefore potentially the scope of the game, perhaps limited.

    • Ookami

      maybe the Quest 2 will break up maps into smaller sections, while PC will have more seamless gameplay. Kinda like the PS2 versions of the Splinter Cell games

      • ZeePee

        Maybe. That would be good.

        I’m very interested to see what PC players think.

        I suspect there will be an initial hype, but in the coming weeks I’d like to see where the reviews go.

        Hopefully it’s better than Boneworks, but the jury is still out on that. I think it could go either way. Whatever happens, they’ve done an incredible job to make this a Quest 2 game and it does look like it’s groundbreaking for that. The fact that they didn’t want to compromise on the physics and general gameplay is amazing and quite a feat that they achieved it. No doubt standalone-only players are going to love it.

        But yeah, graphics and general size and scope of the areas within the game, could be limited.

        • NL_VR

          I dont think that will be a problem.
          The game will also support mods natively and there probably be mods that work best on pc or maybe not at all on Quest. So to be sure to get the PCVR version if you have a capable PC because it will be the beat version (as always)

      • HindsiteGenius

        Even Alyx is a series of smallish self contained areas.

    • Runesr2

      Indeed – Boneworks has awesome dynamic shadows, in this trailer I can’t see any dynamic shadows – the trailer looks Questified.

      • ViRGiN

        How does one target “valve index” when developing a game?
        The “finger bending tracking” is just for visuals and 0% for any mechanics.

      • ZeePee

        It is a red flag and I’m surprised no one is really discussing it.

        I mean, it does look very close to Boneworks, but considering this is primarily going to have been targeted as a Quest 2 game, do people really expect this to be the same level of quality as Boneworks?

        We would have to expect some sort of downgrade.

        Doesn’t mean there actually will be a downgrade. But, it should at least be anticipated.

        Indeed, it does look like it from the trailer imo. We’ll have to wait and see.

    • Dylan

      Bone works was for a $1000 dollar headset though.

      • ViRGiN

        it was not

  • poltevo

    Certainly looks fun and the whole avatar-swapping mechanic changes things up a bit. Hopefully my stomach can take it!

  • ViRGiN

    Medal of Honor was ambitious, but ultimatetly trash in mechanics if you ever played any other VR FPS for any half-substantial amount of time.
    They babified the game, made it look cartoony, and made it like 120gb on PC, and still massive on Quest 2 while having big performance issues.

    Medal of Honor was a failing franchise for very long. I didn’t really enjoy it. It could be GOTY in 2017, but not in december 2020! too little too late.

    It still has a noble #22 top seller on quest store.

    • ZeePee

      Very dissapointed with medal of honor.

      They definitely have something great on their hands there, but they made some terrible design choices and technical blunders.

      It should have been a massive success. Its an amazing IP with so many things going for it.

  • ViRGiN

    Cracks me up when people get personally butthurt cause Meta purchased Onward studio and “questified” the game. That was purely developer choice, and it paid off, game is more popular than all PCVR exclusive years combined across all platforms times two. But even before quest onward was absolute dogshit asset flip grade pure nonsense where you die from two bullets, THEREFORE THAT’S TACTICAL MIL SIM lol.

    One unanswered question for the universe – how such a “serious” game manages to attract crowd of zero attention span kids? Like seriously, even free pavlov or paid contractors is a much better fit.

  • ViRGiN

    Onward was the best VR FPS when it was the only one, because it was the only one lol.
    I bought it back in 2016, and it was the title that “invented” free-hand smooth locomotion that just worked.
    It was horrible game on it’s own, but there wasn’t really anything better for VR.
    Took over a year for Pavlov to come out, and once again people just had to get stuck with what was available.

    So awful to see how unchanged those games are 6+ years later, despite making dozens of millions.
    Still considered “early access” after all those years, with no end in sight.

  • Tommy

    Looks decent. Hopefully, it’s a lot better than Boneworks.