Today at Oculus Connect 3, 4A Games publicly debuted their first VR FPS title for Oculus Touch, titled Arktika.1. Previously, they had teased the game leading up to the reveal and was met with anticipation, as the high quality assets, as well as their elevated pedigree with the Metro series, were evidence enough. Today we finally know what that title is, and I’ve had the opportunity to give the demo a shot. Needless to say, it was an impressively rendered experience with high quality art rarely seen in current VR games, but let’s dive into what buttons it really pushed (and those it might not have).
First of all, this game will cater to those who crave high-tech firearms. The best thing I can say about the whole experience is that I wanted nothing but to Touch and experience the tactility of my guns, pun intended. This is credited to the studio’s extremely high attention to detail in the art assets, and the physicality that they provide in VR.
Unlike most other experiences I’ve tried, this one really made me want to toy with all the knobs, switches, and other tiny mechanisms seen on the weapons you wield. That may also have to do with how they let you customize your loadout.
In the demo, I was given the ability to choose two different guns to take with me on a mission, from a selection before me, but beyond that, I could change what color I wanted the guns to be, and what attachments I wanted to put on them, like flashlights and digital scopes. I took a good amount of time investigating each and every gun, seeing what they looked like and how they operated, but sadly had to move on.
Of course, that was also the part where I got to test out the guns on a shooting range in-game. The feel of the weapons as they shot, the strong haptics induced in the Touch controllers, and the quality of the sounds, were all satisfying, not to mention the look of the projectiles and the trails in the air left by them. All of this contributed to the high quality AAA feel of the game. Out of the assortment, I picked what looked like a revolver that shot a scattering of bullets made of pure energy, and a handgun that also scattered but with what seemed to be green projectiles leaving light distorting streaks in the air.
The essential gun mechanics and handling were pretty simple however. After choosing which two guns I wanted to bring, I could holster them beside my waist. With the revolver, I only had to flick my wrist lightly and I could reload, similar to the double barreled shotgun in Hover Junkers. With the other handgun, I simply had to tap it to on my holster to reload. This kind of system would prove fitting for the fast FPS action in the mission to unfold. In addition, in the middle of the demo, I got access to a gun which had curving projectiles that could seek enemies behind corners, which added a twist on the gameplay. We could probably expect more interesting mechanics like that in the full game, as they’re planning for a wide array of weapons and customizations. In addition, they plan for a lengthy campaign, on par with what can be expected from most of their other games.
However, while it did feel smooth, some the action was not terribly novel. The plans for a lengthy campaign, driven by traveling through different levels, like in one of their Metro titles, might be one of the rarer occurrences in VR specific games. But a common occurrence in many of today’s VR first person shooters is teleportation on fixed points, and that’s the system of locomotion this game uses. They chose this system to prevent motion sickness in all users, and while it does work, some people dislike how sudden teleportation feels, even if there is a reason provided by the game about why you’re able to teleport, which this one seems to do in some way (it’s provided by futuristic technology). Otherwise, the gameplay was solid, encouraging physically squatting with your own body to duck behind cover, or teleporting somewhere to flank the enemy, while also leaning to fire from cover. It felt similar to Dead & Buried, except you’re able to teleport to different points whenever you want.
Overall, even if there are some potential caveats or limitations, Arktika.1 is shaping up to be a gem in the early days of VR gaming, bringing AAA production values to the table. But this is only one of the impressive new VR FPS reveals at Oculus Connect 3, standing beside Lone Echo by Ready at Dawn, and Robo Recall by Epic Games. We’ll continue covering the event and bringing the latest on all that’s new.