Darkfield VR is one of the earliest members of a new resurgence in the Space Combat genre – seemingly brought back from the dead with the advent of the Oculus Rift. It’s a pure multiplayer dogfighting game which pitches you against electronic or human foes as you battle for supremacy among the stars. I caught up with the developers, VR Bits, at Gamescom in Cologne this year to have a look at the latest build and to find out more. Plus the Darkfield VR Kickstarter launches.

VR and the Indie Developer Renaissance

gun-turrets1Indie gaming has seen incredible growth in the last 10 years. With the advent of Steam and consoles with on-line digital market places, the modern embodiment of what used to be termed the ‘bedroom coder’. In many ways though, Indie gaming has become a victim of its own success in recent years. The flood of quirky, original, and above all quality titles that now occupy this space makes it difficult for new entrants to get themselves noticed – there’s just too much awesome out of there.

VR has been an interesting differentiator for those struggling developers and although there have been many examples of titles which seem to have used the buzz and hype surrounding the Oculus Rift as a way to market their title, there have been some really original and surprising games brought about by the VR revolution. Darkfield VR is part of a ship1resurgence in the Space Combat genre and is a great example of a title which has matured alongside virtual reality itself.

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I first took a look at Darkfield back in April and, having previously followed its progress, was amazed by what this small team of developers had managed to achieve. Sitting down to play the latest DK2 build at Gamescom this year, it was clear the pace of additional improvements were not slowing up any time soon. This is a team passionate about the genre.

Blasting around space with a beautiful star-scape backdrop is a pleasure. Asteroids litter the skies and do a good job of trying to distract you from your primary goal in the game – namely to blast other craft into space dust. Darkfield is focussed on multi-player primarily, but offers AI controlled bots should no humans be available. Combat itself adopts a similar approach to that of EVE: Valkyrie, namely that your target reticule is controlled with your gaze and in this way you can track targets naturally either blasting them with your cannons or pressing to lock then depressing to launch homing missiles.

sttaion1It all hangs together very well and I can imagine the experience coming into its own entirely once you have multiple friends to join you in the combat zone. Right now the game is purely PvP, but Daniel Pots, Developer and 3D Artists at VR Bits, told me the ultimate goal is to offer players the chance to collaborate with a co-op PvP hybrid which allows one player to operate gun turrets with the other piloting the ship. That’s an original twist which I think could be an extremely compelling differentiator for Darkfield.

The Kickstarter Cometh

As Daniel alludes to in the interview, VR Bits have now launched their Kickstarter campaign. Setting a goal of $10,000 AUD they’re hoping to raise funds to shift development of their labour of love into a new gear. With entry level pledge tiers ($25-35 AUD) offering backers the chance to get their names and, interestingly, voices into the final game.

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Check out the Darkfield VR Kickstarter Here

Move on up the tiers and early birds could snag a guest spot in the game, with your visage appearing as a 3D model ($55 AUD) all the way up to the promise of being immortalised via motion capture as an in-game hologram ($500 AUD).

Darkfield VR promises the following features once the game ships, currently projected for July 2015:

  • Multiple Co-Operative Game Modes
  • Integrated Holodeck Singleplayer Experience
  • Unique Ship Types with Special Abilities and Weapons
  • Free-Roam through Space Stations and Ships
  • Online and LAN – there is no online-DRM and we also provide a dedicated Server
  • Single-band, single-channel short wave radios, basically Walkie Talkies in Space, make communicating with your friends a challenge by itself
  • Support for Windows, OSX and Linux
  • Oculus Rift Support and planned support for upcoming devices such as CastAR and Samsung’s GearVR

The team have also promised a short single-player campaign which aims to add some back story and history to the universe you’ll spend your time fighting in.

Our thanks to Daniel for his time at Gamescom this year, we wish VR Bits the best of luck with their Kickstarter campaign. In case you missed it, check the Kickstarter page out here and you can find more on Darkfield VR at the website here.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.