Nostos, an upcoming open world RPG from China-based tech company NetEase, made its Western debut at Gamescom this year with something that appears to be heavily influenced by the popular anime series such as Sword Art Online.

I got a chance to pop into the NetEase booth at this year’s Gamescom in Cologne, and while there are some clear ‘wow’ moments thanks to the overall beauty of the world, it’s clear the studio has a ways to go before Nostos can be considered a true VR success.

Here’s the pitch: players live in the world of Nostos, a post-apocalyptic, but verdant place littered with the remnants of long-abandoned cities and artifacts that help you survive. Including deserts, grasslands, and mountains, players fight off enemies as a natural timer counts down, an ever-expanding destructive force called ‘Coralsea’. The game is supposed to be an online multiplayer, but it’s uncertain if the ‘M’ for ‘massive’ is applicable at this point.

According to a statement by NetEase, “[t]eamwork is key as players gather resources, build a clan they can trust, and fight to pull the world of Nostos back from the brink of utter desolation.” The game is slated to arrive some time in 2019 for PC via Steam, and for VR headsets via Steam, Viveport and the Oculus Store.

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Strapping into a Vive, I got the chance to do a few basic tasks; drive a very Miyazaki-inspired pickup truck, shoot a giant bug-type baddie attacking the base (and loot him for treasure), and walk around to soak in a bit of the world that both NetEase and production studio ShuiGe have created.

In terms of its VR implementation, it’s clear at this point that the game is still in its earliest phases, possibly even too early to really be shown to the public without a healthy dose of disclaimers, something I unfortunately didn’t receive throughout my demo experience. While the game’s UI was serviceable, which is based on selecting options from your wrist-mounted watch, most everything was not stellar at this point.

Image courtesy NetEase

Besides some basic problems with low frame rate, there’s also the issue of a distractingly-close render distance, which resolves finer details like plants at only about a two meter circle around you. This takes away somewhat from the looming structures in the middle and far distances like mountains, large trees, and a cool looking center structure that reminds me of The World Tree from Sword Art Online.

Image courtesy NetEase

The demo’s overall object interaction still needs a lot of work too. Simply put, you clip through everything. Example: one aspect of resource gathering relies on you ability to fell trees with your trusty axe, which you then use to build houses, craft items, etc. Despite only working in half of the dozen-or-so times I tried, it never quite felt right because my axe would oftentimes clip through my target at not register on the tree at all—something PC players certainly won’t have an issue with. Even something as simple as getting into a truck didn’t seem to work in a VR-native way, as you would have to remember to press a hotkeyed controller button to enter and exit the vehicle, and not simply walk up to it and open the door.

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At this point, NostosVR version feels like a shoehorned implementation, and I genuinely hope NetEase looks around at true VR natives such as Rec Room, Orbus VR, and Echo VR for inspiration moving forward. It’s still early days, and there’s definitely some good bones here that would be grand in VR if properly fleshed out.

Image courtesy NetEase

A few positive points: as a VR-capable game with standard PC support, the potential pool of players is likely to be higher, giving the possibility of a pretty good start in terms of raw player numbers.

The game is also supporting Improbable’s SpatialOS, a cloud-based server platform that allows for persistent online worlds that continue their physics simulations even if no one is there to interact. This wasn’t available during the demo, but I was told by a NetEase spokesperson that the implementation would be available at launch.

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  • nipple_pinchy

    If the game relies on multiplayer, it’s an easy pass for me.

    • JJ

      if relies as in cant play without friends then i agree otherwise its an addition that I’d respect.

    • This comment system relies on a form of multiplayer – Why isn’t that a pass for you?

      • nipple_pinchy

        Because this is a free comment system, d#mb#ss, not a video game product that’s trying to sell me its value as an independent form of entertainment.

        If a game’s value relies on unknown factors, such as the expected participation of players/users that leads to a net positive experience for paying consumers, that’s a liability I don’t care to invest in, either with time or money.

        Make your product worth its asking price without having third parties give it value for you. Especially as a video game exclusive to a fledgling virtual reality market, trying to get people interested in a multiplayer video game that is likely to have a very low player count over the course of its life, you’re asking consumers to gamble with their money.

        • JJ

          You’re not at a loss if you don’t spend the money… So stop whining as if you’re forced to buy this.

          And the second you call someone a dumbass on a forumn is the same second you lose all respect and credibility from other readers. The fact that you couldn’t answer without throwing insult shows this is something on a more personal level for you and probably has nothing to do with the real topic at hand.

          We’re all here to talk about vr and you seem to be an angry little kid who wants to assert your dominance for no damn reason. Maybe you wanted to play a multy player game and you or your friends couldn’t afford it so now you resent any multiplayer game that isnt free? idk but its clearly a deeper issue to you than it is to the general public and that should show you that you’re being ignorant with your ideas.

          Bottom line is, they want a multiplayer enforced experience and you don’t. The solution isn’t for them to change their game to your individual liking, its for you to go find the game that suits your needs and stop wasting our time with childlike complaints

          • nipple_pinchy

            Obviously, it’s not as if I’m forced to buy this. We’re not forced to buy anything. Stop combating criticism with irrational strawman arguments.

            What the devs WANT is for me to buy their game and many actually look at the comments section on sites like this so letting them know that a MP-only VR game is a bit odd of an endeavor to dive into is something helpful for them.

            I know it’s nice for devs to read such zingers as “cool” or “looks neat” in comments, but it doesn’t help them in the long run.

          • JJ

            Well since I wrapped up my comment with the most plausible solution related to your topic of concern, that was not a strawman argument. You could say, me commenting on your “dumbass” comment or your immature attitude, could have been a strawman fallacy, but since i brought it back to the main topic those were just supporting statements. Ones that hoped to shed light on your position from the perspective of another reader. I dont know you and based off what you’ve said thats the picture you paint about yourself.

            Its funny you assume they havent discussed within themselves the reasons for going MP. As if theyd read your comment and go “Oh why didnt we think of that!!”. They deliberately chose MP for some specific reason and unless you have something to say other than, you dont think that can support a healthy player base or you cant afford it, then you’re not really giving them anything useful.

            And everything i said earlier about making a persuasive arguments holds its value even to the devs. Do you really think theyre going to listen to the people having a conversation or the person calling everyone a dumbass?

            shoutout to knowing your logical fallacies though!! most dont and it makes discussions difficult

        • JJ

          You do however thoroughly type out your thoughts in a nice organized manner and thats highly respectable on here compared to crappy illiterate posts that just flame people. So regardless of your views its refreshing to have a decent conversation :)

        • I find it interesting that you call this a free comment system, then create a self-imposed sense of censorship by censoring the word “dumbass” – It seems that you want both something that’s free, as well as something that’s restricted – Fascinating!

          I also find it fascinating that you consider participation of others to be a negative, when your very posting here effectively required the authors of the article to read it, and in replying to me caused a notification. You have in a sense created the requisite of the expected participation of others, and have subsequently become what you yourself so despise.

          I also find it curious how quickly you are to jump to a financial incentive before considering any other alternatives. Sure, it’s possible that they’re creating the game for the sole purpose of making money (In which case they went down an extremely difficult path), whilst it’s also completely possible that the game will be released for free so that the creators could express their art-form with the world – A case which likely didn’t even occur to you. Why the obsession with financial gain… Sad really :(

    • Master E

      Looks fun, but I’m in the same boat… rather not deal with anyone at the end of my day.

      • nipple_pinchy

        It’s okay to have something that relies on multiplayer, but it’s a big gamble to have something that’s multiplayer ONLY at this stage of VR. If you buy a board game, for instance, you only need to spend about $10-20 ONCE and multiple people can play it with you indefinitely.

        For a multiplayer-only virtual reality game, everyone has to buy a console/PC and a HMD and the game. So the devs are asking that you accept the risk that enough people will have done all that just so you can enjoy their game.

        Sorry, but make it a solid SP experience and feel free to make multiplayer an option, but don’t rely on it. Just too much hedged against the title for me to accept it’ll be worth the investment.

        • JJ

          most of us agree with you, its just you kinda went over the top and blew it out of proportion. Now none of us want to side with the crazy person. If you had just simply said what you felt without the details that revealed your ignorance, you’d have all our support.

          plus calling people dumbass’s is literally the worst persuasive tactic there is…

          • nipple_pinchy

            His retort was something a d#mb@ss would say so I had to educate him. The name was apt.

            I don’t care if people think I’m crazy. If I’m the only rational voice in the room, “crazy” is good. Frankly, I don’t care what other commenters think; I made my initial comment hopefully for the developers to read. They’re shooting themselves in the foot by going this route.

      • You are often alone in open wrld games.

        Other people jus pass by and ignore you.

        Beginning areas can have plenty of people but beyond that you’re alone.

    • ForceKin Gaming

      I don’t know if you read the article fully or not, but from your comments it seems that you’re under the impression that in order to enjoy the game you have to have a lot of friends with VR HMDs who are interested in the game. It says that the game can be played with or without an HMD.

      While I agree that VR-exclusive multiplayer games are almost destined to fail at this point, cross-platform games that allow you to play with friends who don’t have HMDs seem to do very well for themselves, and even have a chance to bring people into VR as they decide they’d like to experience the game that way. Now you may personally not want to play in VR with a bunch of people who aren’t also in VR, which is fine. I just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page in realizing that this won’t necessarily be some dead VR multiplayer game like the hundreds of unpopulated ones already out.

      • nipple_pinchy

        I don’t care about pancake gaming. I’m a VR user.

        • JJ

          … theres no point in talking to you you’re just a 12 y/o having identity issues

          • JJ

            and its funny you’ll respond to people with short handed, pointless insults but wont reply to my well thought out comment below where I respond to your stupid claims. Looks like you’re just trying to argue with people and thats your primary goal. either way, were not dumb we can see every post you put in order and following your comments its obvious you’re again just immature and looking to troll..

          • nipple_pinchy

            12yos have self-control issues. Have some self-control and stop commenting at me. You have no interesting viewpoints to share and you’re wasting my time.

          • Jj

            Aww poor little nippy can’t hang no more?
            Ignoring comment threads you started where you insult people because you don’t have a good answer is no way to go about things.
            Next time bring some real evidence or legit perspectives to the conversation, otherwise don’t bitch when people tell you you’re wrong. It’s that simple.

        • As usual w/ these games, you end up playing alone, anyway.

        • ForceKin Gaming

          I’m not suggesting that you play the pancake version, only that there will be others playing it that way with whom you can play. The point being that it isn’t likely that the game will be unpopulated just because it supports VR and is multiplayer exclusive.

    • TJ Studio

      Why do you hate multiplayer games? Is it because they’re filled with microtransactions or something?

  • Darshan

    Legend of Zelda Breath of Wild of VR??? Please add single player too..

  • LowRezSkyline

    Looks like a Zelda BOTW ripoff. That is not a bad thing.

    • ripoff is such a strong term

      • Get Schwifty!

        IKR – people see any similarity and it’s “this ripped this off” without even realizing “art comes from art” – in other words, almost all aesthetics have an association with something else to begin with or they are parallel designs… I mean two people designing a car for the first time are likely to end up with something very close…. what I have noticed is Millennials in particular seem to say this, is as if only the things they have directly encountered are the reference points for all things and nothing came before… Zelda is a take on many other fictional worlds elements…. the cycle continues.

        • JJ

          yeah those damn Millennials, its as if someone raised them that way… oh wait

    • Santa maria

      BOTW is a ripoff of several other games. It’s not original in any way.

  • Les Vega

    I love the art style so far, it looks like an anime version of The Forest i just hope some of stilted looking action is due to being early footage, at the very least I’ll keep an eye on this one.

  • oompah

    Ray tracing is the future
    plasticky looking ‘games’ are only plasticky

    • Get Schwifty!

      This is very true… it is rather remarkable to me that the general gamer doesn’t *yet* appreciate what ray tracing, even in partial implementation, brings to a game. It’s a bit like trying to argue for HDR, or for that matter, VR itself, you have to really experience it and then tell me it’s not worthwhile. The basic problem with any new visual tech is right now card prices are high, and people want better performance for a song…. that is _not_ the market right now… and on top of ray tracing conventional games will at least get the usual +25-30% or so bump for the current market costs…

      • fdf

        Yeah no. The “conspiracy” of RTX is based on the fact that the extrapolations made using Nvidia’s OWN recent gaming benchmarks using an RTX reveal that the performance on games is -3% to +10%. Meaning it’s not the usual “25%-30%”. Nvidia was also very shady not giving any numbers even as far as not labeling the y axis in many of the charts shown during the reveal! All of this lines up perfectly that RTX is a weak immature technology, and Nvidia holds a monopoly. Why work when they can just crank up prices and sell it to idiots and not provide any useful data on how it performs for VR or even basic games? Get Real.

  • Mr. Moon

    I hope it’s really good not just talking.

    However I do believe Cyberpunk-2077 could make VR go mainstream if they going to support 4K HDR 90FPS per eye with (Foveated Rendering) and Ray-tracing.

    Two things needs to happen also

    First : NVIDIA offers double the Ray-tracing and Tensor Core performance with next generation GPU’s on the 7nm and enables NVlink Full speed 250 Gbps.

    (This is 60% might happen by 2020),
    (100% going to happen if AMD and Intel put NVIDIA under pressure)

    Second : the second generation VR headsets have to support 4K HDR 90FPS per eye with 160 FOV (this is 90% going to happen by 2020)

    • JJ

      where the f are you getting your facts and info from?
      CyberPunk-2077 devs said no vr…. so you should stop holding your breath.
      4k HDR 90 fps per eye 160 FOV in 2 years… what are you smoking?

    • Lucidfeuer

      Yeah it’s a shame Cyberpunk will NOT have VR for now, CDProjekt haven’t release a single VR project or experience.

      • Mr. Moon

        They haven’t yet because it’s not worth it, the technology still not there, but Cyberpunk-2077 not going to be out before 2020 and if there is a VR version going to happen by 2021, so for sure we talking about second generation VR headset and third generation NVIDIA RTX GPU’s, I am sure they will consider the option and it will be worth it.

        • grabma

          You need to pipe down your dreamy eyes of hope and realize just because you like VR and a developer, it doesn’t mean a developer is going to make a VR game. NVIDIA is not going to release the third generation RTX GPUs by 2021 even at the rate it is currently going (2 years each). Especially at their monopolistic position.

          • jj

            yeah this is the truth here and its not even that bitter of a truth its just how it is.

    • fdf

      Good lord you are the biggest buffoon in this chat even surpassing Nipple Pinchy. NO you are not going to get a 4K 90fps with ray-tracing in 2 years. Current ray tracing is 1080p sub 40 fps for $1300 American Dollars. You are asking for a pixel rate boost of 900% in 2 years. Fuck off with your uninformed outlandish projections.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Lots of interesting things, though game-design looks goofy and I’m not surprised by the reported bugs or draw-distance shortcomings.

    Not interested in an online multiplayer RPG, but interesting to see a SpatialOS implementation for VR.

  • Polly Valentine

    I will learn more about this project. I’ve missed this presentation, actually. I like VR games a lot.