On the build up to a larger reveal at GDC next week, Oculus has been teasing some of the combat mechanics in Asgard’s Wrath, the latest upcoming Oculus Studios title. The game’s physics-based combat will include the ability to finish opponents with brutal dismembering kills.

Asgard’s Wrath, an upcoming Rift exclusive in development by Sanzaru Games to be published by Oculus Studios, was announced last month as a Norse-inspired melee combat adventure game. And while the announcement trailer was filled with lots of fighting, the team behind the title says that the combat has a layer of depth that goes beyond what you might see at first glance.

Following some teases about the non-combat aspects of the game, the team recently posted a handful of teasers to the official Sanzaru Games community Discord server, and offered some details about how the game’s combat system will work.

Bows are confirmed to be in the game, but a bulk of the fighting appears to be melee-based. Mike Doran, Executive Producer on Asgard’s Wrath at Oculus Studios says that while the game isn’t a top-down physics simulation, the combat is being tuned with physics in mind to prevent players from doing unrealistic things like wiggling their swords rapidly to land lots of hits. Players will need to block, parry, and make broad swings in order to deal damage to opponents.

While some VR fighting games rely on a deeper physical simulation with regards to how fast players can swing their weapons (like Blade & Sorcery), Doran confirms that Asgard’s Wrath’s combat won’t use that sort of raw simulation.

“We don’t do [simulated] weapon delay. It feels bad. [I] can’t stand it. Like trying to fight underwater. We do however have lots of checks in place to stop exploits,” Doran said. “You can’t waggle your wrist and get free hits, for example. Forcing you to move to block effectively is another one. We want this to be all about your skill as much as possible. We use physics simulations to enhance the combat—not to define it.”

Killing blows, it seems, can come in the form of a brutal dismemberment with a burst of slow-motion so that you can appreciate your victory. It isn’t 100% clear at this point, but it certainly appears that dismembering slices through the enemy trace a very close line to the player’s actual swing, meaning that you may be able to cut enemies apart in arbitrary directions, rather than being restricted to pre-defined separations (like at limb joints). This would certainly notch up the satisfaction-factor, and pair nicely with the precise control that players have over their swings thanks to motion tracked VR controllers.

Doran also notes that managing weapon durability will be key, as every weapon and item (shields included, it seems) will be able to break if subject to enough damage.

“So, you can use your shield all day long, but it’ll break apart and you’ll eventually be shieldless, until you find a new one,” said Doran. “Shields are much more effective at blocking thrown enemy weapons than trying to dodge them. If you’re really good you can bat some thrown enemy weapons out of the air with a perfectly timed swing. Also, if you block an enemy strike with your weapon without moving the weapon toward the enemy, your weapon will get knocked away to simulate the physical properties of those two objects.”

Players will be able to repair their gear if it breaks, and use weapons found from enemies and the environment in a pinch, but (from the gif above) it seems that some weapons may be weaker and break sooner than others. Doran has mentioned “blacksmiths” on several occasions, and we’d venture to guess that players may be able to visit blacksmiths to upgrade and strengthen their weapons.

On weapon variety, Doran says that each of the ‘hero’ characters that the player will control have at least one unique “signature” weapon which will be upgradeable and have unique abilities. One of those signature weapons is a one-handed axe which can be thrown and magically recalled, a mechanic which seems very closely related to Thor’s hammer in Marvel Powers United VR (which Sanzaru also developed). Unlike Thor’s hammer in that game though, the magic axe in Asgard’s Wrath will apparently be able to lodge itself in an enemy’s head, and rip it clean off when recalled. So the game has that going for it… which is nice.

Doran also notes that “there are combat rules in play to prevent spamming [the axe].”

The game won’t feature two-handed weapons in order to avoid the complexities of trying to simulated a ‘connected grip’ when player’s hands are actually not connected, Doran says.

Two-hands may be out of the question, but players can expect to battle two enemies (or more) at a time, and they’ll need to carefully parry “signature attacks” (telegraphed when the enemies have red eyes and flames coming from their head) which will otherwise disarm them in the midst of combat:

Enemy difficulty can be tuned with a variety of parameters, Doran says, including how much damage they deal, how fast they attack, how varied their attacks are, and how much health they have. The number to the left of each enemy health bar is the enemy’s ‘level’, and will help players understand how challenging that enemy will be.

'Asgard's Wrath' Gameplay Footage Shows It's About More Than Just Combat

Asgard’s Wrath is planned to launch at some point in 2019 (though a more specific release date hasn’t been confirmed), and the creators say it’ll offer some 30 hours of gameplay between combat, exploration, and story. Next week at GDC we expect to get our hands on a demo build of the game to experience the combat mechanics for ourselves, stay tuned!

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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."
  • JesuSaveSouls


    • 3872Orcs

      Until you stop spamming or some mod bans you I’ll spam back: The Atheist Experience

      • NooYawker

        Just block him like the nuisance he is.

    • Bob Smith

      How weak is Jesus, if he needs you to get out his message, by spamming the comments section?

      Do you think that makes Jesus look like someone worth following?

      It doesn’t. It just makes him look silly, for having such ridiculous followers.

    • Ian Shook

      “What would Jesus do?” Probably not spam VR news discussion forums.

      • Mike549


    • Hivemind9000

      Reported as a spammer… again.

  • 3872Orcs

    This is impressive stuff! This game will sell VR! I’m very eager to get my hands on it now. But unless Oculus announces a new and improved headset in due time for this and other exclusives I will be trying to play it with whatever is the most high spec headset and controllers on the market. Hopefully knuckles is out soon. If no new hardware is out when the game releases I will just wait. I really don’t want to play this with the old Rift.

  • MeowMix

    Wow !!!

  • ps4player

    Aesthetic ripped straight from God of War

  • johnny

    Can you provide a link to the Sanzaru Games discord server ? can’t find it… thanks in advance.

  • Looking forward to this – hopefully there’s staffs like in Dark Messiah Might + Magic!

  • JesuSaveSouls

    Its looks not bad.Right now tales of glory is a vast adventure of epic battles and available. Jesusvr.net God’s Son died for you too,He is alive!

    • daveinpublic

      You need to use good grammar, punctuation when you post, otherwise it dilutes your message and may even turn some people off. You last post feels confusing… Example:

      It doesn’t look bad. Right now, Tales of Glory is a vast adventure of epic battles, and it’s available. God’s Son died for you, too. He is alive! Jesusvr.net

  • impurekind

    Not sure about the weapons apparently breaking after only a few hits. The rest looks potentially cool.

  • MosBen

    Ugh, I didn’t think that this was going to be my kind of game, but the breakable weapons really did it. None of this screams fun to me at all.

    • Baldrickk

      Done well, it can be an encouragement to use different weapons. Done poorly, it’s frustration.

      Dying light fell a little on the frustration side – you could craft a great weapon, and then not want to use it, as you don’t want to waste it.
      Having a repair ability as suggested in the article sounds pretty good though – it’s a limit to using one weapon too much – like limited BFG ammo in DOOM, but doesn’t actually take anything away from the player.

      • MosBen

        I mean people enjoy all kinds of things, so I just expect that a lot of this is just my taste, but I strongly associate breakable weapons with games that stress a relatively high degree of skill in order to succeed at a game. And just like I find racing games that stress accurate simulation to be tedious, I’m not really interested in games that expect me to become some kind of fighting master in order to enjoy my leisure time. This looks to be an even greater issue with VR, where becoming good in a skill-based fighting game means quickly moving around a room just so.

    • MeowMix

      They stated on Discord the weapons usually don’t break that easily. This was a demonstration

  • doug

    This article walks right up to a now obvious solution to the sword inertia problem in VR: Don’t have the game run at a fixed time scale. If the player tries to waggle his heavy sword, speed the game up too. With the bad outcome, the player will instantly learn he cannot cheat the physics, and he will learn through constant feedback where the edge of his avatar’s capability lies. When the player exceeds it, he sees everyone else speeding up, too. When he finds a lighter sword, it’s a real upgrade that causes less time speeding penalty.

    • Baldrickk

      That sounds like a cool mechanic.

    • Wildtz0r

      That’s Superhot

      • doug

        The core mechanic of superhot is the player has the superpower of slowing time by not moving. The whole game is slow-mo, with the player enjoying super powers the whole game. I’m proposing something very different: a normal speed sword game, until the player cheats the light weight of his controller to attempt to swing his heavy sword at super human speed, at which time the enemies speed up, nullifying the cheat.

  • rabs

    I wonder how all this will work, and if it’s really a better way than Blade &
    Sorcery or Boneworks to do physics. He seems to imply they simply add
    an uniform latency to the avatar arm, but I don’t think it’s the case
    (or it should not be).

    I guess this game requires some swing speed / wide movement (not just rotation, please). Which is quite good already, but doesn’t solve everything.

    From the videos it looks like the player will have infinite strength when blocking attacks, arms as strong as a rock but weapon breaks.

    Though they mention “weapon will get knocked away” in some context. Does it simply snap out of the hand ?

    Well, we’ll see…

  • Amazing!

  • lnpilot

    Why would you want to play that?

  • Why is everyone so certain that gamers want this level of immersion? This looks exhausting. This would be fun for 20 minutes, not 2 hours.

    • Baldrickk

      An exhausting but fun game sounds just great for me. I need more exercise ;)

    • NooYawker

      The ultimate goal of VR is to fully immerse the player in a virtual world. Yea some people want to play VR sitting down but that shouldn’t stop the progress of VR.

    • After watching things unfold for a few years, it would seem from the stats that players like the fantasy of action, not actually doing action. If you’re not exercising now, how likely is it that you REALLY will exercise in VR? There’s a lot of idealism floating around that just doesn’t land in practical reality. I think we’re going to see that this is another limited audience game. It’s going to be hard for publishers to justify cinematic game production in VR for a while. Maybe the next generation will prefer active gaming, but it’s not looking like these immersive games are going to be mainstream anytime soon. Just holding the controllers up and out from your body for more than a half hour exhausts most people’s forearms. It’s just not going to take off yet.

  • NooYawker

    Sometimes too much realism hurts the fun. The weapons break to easily, maybe they do for demo purposes.

    Praise Buddha

    • MeowMix

      It’s a demonstration. They already stated on discord the the weapons don’t break that easily in the actual game.