We’re steadily learning more about the upcoming Rift exclusive Asgard’s Wrath, a Norse-inspired VR action adventure game being developed by Sanzaru Games and published by Oculus Studios. The company has shared the first details about how the game’s “asynchronous multiplayer” feature will work, and offered additional teases on weapons, playable heroes, and the array of animal companions that will aid the player along their quest.
Set for release later this year, Asgard’s Wrath promises a 30-ish hour adventure where the player controls a god-like being alongside several “mortal heroes” which will have unique weapons and abilities. The game is said to feature a heavy emphasis on physics-based melee combat that favors skill over flailing, but Oculus says it won’t just be a series of arenas; we saw recently that moments in between combat will include looting, puzzle solving, and interactions with characters and the environment.
Continuing the teasing over at the Sanzaru community Discord server, Mike Doran, an executive producer at Oculus Studios, offered the first hints about how the game’s asynchronous multiplayer will work. “Asynchronous” of course means that Asgard’s Wrath isn’t going to have traditional co-op, but there will be some interaction that can happen between players. Doran explains:
The async multiplayer feature in Asgard’s Wrath is not high score/challenge based. We wanted to do something a little more tied to the narrative. As you journey throughout the lands in the game, you will inevitably die and see the dreaded Game Over screen. When this happens, you automatically place a marker approximately where you went down in the world (there are a few spots where it might not be available, but by and large it works throughout the game.)
The difference is, this marker appears in other player’s games. Players have the choice to fight to redeem another player’s fallen soul and allow it passage to Valhalla. So, as you’re playing you’ll see a marker where someone went down. If you choose to take on that combat challenge and are successful, you’ll get progress towards unique rewards that are only available via this feature.
It’s an interesting idea; from Doran’s explanation it sounds a bit like you’ll be fighting to reclaim the honor of your fallen friends. Hopefully these “combat challenges” will be uniquely meaningful and not just feel like any other encounter in the game—they could do something neat like highlight the specific enemy that delivered the killing blow to your friend so that you can make sure the foe sees just punishment (which the game’s dismemberment system ought to make especially satisfying):
Doran also talked more about the “mortal heroes” that players will inhabit throughout the course of the game.
“It’s not like a class selection at the beginning of the game or anything like that,” he said. “Once you’ve unlocked one you can switch between the ones that you’ve collected. They all have unique mechanics, which you saw some hints of in the trailer.”
Indeed, in the trailer we saw a warrior-like character wielding a sword and shield, a mage-like character with a magic staff, and an elf character with a weapon that looked like a cross between swords and nunchucks. However, Doran teased that “the trailer did not show off all of the mortal heroes,” so we can expect an even wider variety of playable characters in the full game.
He also talked about the animal companions that will assist the player in unique ways. These companions are not playable characters, but it appears that the player will be able to use their god-form to transform animals from around the environment into humanoid helpers. In the trailer we see a bull that turns into a brutish melee warrior and a hawk that turns into a flying archer. The gameplay glimpse we saw last week also confirmed a frog companion which can help the player retrieve items.
In consideration of those three confirmed animal helpers however, Doran said that there are “many more than three [animal companions];” from the trailer it appears it’ll be up to the player to find them in the environment and put them to good use. Apparently your animal friends will also have a few interesting ways of interacting with you, like playing catch or giving high fives.
While the trailer didn’t show any bow combat from the player, Doran confirmed player-wieldable bows will be part of the game but said that they’re still being “heavily tuned” and that the final implementation isn’t yet locked in.
“[For bows] we will probably lean towards fun and usability over a punishing simulation,” he explained. “That being said the harder enemies can and will swat your arrows out of the air before they rush you […],” or they could just block arrows with their shields.
And finally, Doran talked a bit about the game’s combat mechanics which are described as “physics based,” but not completely simulated.
“Physics are an important element of our combat, but it’s not 100% physics based. There are rules to the gameplay that go beyond physics. There have to be. Sandbox-style physics driven combat experiences have suffered from a lack of that.” He promised that onlookers will see “a lot more of our combat in the GDC demo.”
GDC will be held in late March, and Road to VR will be there to see the Asgard’s Wrath demo first hand.