Out of Ammo is a real time strategy game that combines base building with the ability to step into the boots of individual soldiers for some first person action.
Out of Ammo features eight playable maps as well as three additional missions and cooperative multiplayer. In the freeplay maps, you are tasked with setting up defenses to protect your headquarters from endless waves of enemy combatants. It plays like a tower defense game, but with the added ability to take control of any friendly unit on the battlefield and shoot from that point of view.
Out of Ammo was developed by RocketWerkz, a New Zealand based studio founded by Dean Hall, the creator of DayZ. The game made its debut on Steam Early Access in April and then made its full release earlier this month.
Out of Ammo Details:
Developer & Publisher: RocketWerkz
Available On: HTC Vive
Reviewed On: HTC Vive
Release Date: September 15th, 2016
Contrary to what you may expect from the game’s title, ammunition is actually quite plentiful in Out of Ammo and is rarely a resource I found myself focusing on while playing. Instead, the game pushes you to consider how you manage your time. Unlike many tower defense games, Out of Ammo blends the waves together so that you don’t have a really distinct planning break between each round. This means you are constantly switching between building new fortifications and inhabiting troops in order to help sway the battle in a certain area.
The first person combat is both intense and satisfying. Out of Ammo features five different soldiers that you can step into (three combat, and two support) and they each carry a different weapon. You will also face a variety of enemies, some of which require you to inhabit a specific soldier type to fight back with. Because of this, and the need to keep building up your base, you never spend a long time in the boots of any single soldier.
While the freeplay mode is a lot of fun, I wish there was more advancement and progression in it. As it currently stands, there is no way to ‘win’ a freeplay mission. You simply keep fighting until some combination of enemies and circumstances wipes out your headquarters. I couldn’t help but feel defeated every time, even after setting a new high score, and I think some sort of reward system would help balance that out.
Out of Ammo also features three standalone missions that remove the tower defense and strategy aspects and leave you with solid first person shooting. The newest mission, Vertigo, has players hack into a computer while fighting off enemies with a tactical shotgun. This mission felt very much like a heist from the Payday series, because you would frequently have to abandon your cover in order to complete an action on the computer to keep the timer moving. The level is a lot of fun and provides a nice alternative to the freeplay maps.
Despite the level of polish throughout most areas of the game, Out of Ammo still has its fair share of bugs. On one of the first-person survival missions, I found my perspective thrust up into the sky with no way to teleport down. This effectively ended my mission and left me momentarily disappointed. Also there are still some pathing issues where units won’t be able to enter a defensive structure you’ve built, especially on the sloped areas of the D-Day map. While the bugs I encountered were disruptive, they weren’t very common, and I’d expect them to be fixed through an update.
Speaking of updates, I bought Out of Ammo around the time of the Vive launch, back when the game was in Early Access, and it’s impressive how much they’ve added and refined over the last five months. Huge features like multiplayer and the three first-person missions were all added very recently. Being able to follow their development and their responses to feedback makes me feel confident in the value that I’m getting as a consumer, and this is no small part of the reason I will be willing to pay for their DLC in the future.
I initially passed on Out of Ammo when it came up in my Steam queue because of the blocky graphical style. After watching some of the first-person footage, however, I decided to give it shot. Something that didn’t come across in the videos is the scale of the environments. When you are in the commander view, the entire battlefield feels like a Lego playset and the blocky models feel slightly more appropriate. It sets an oddly playful tone that stands in contrast to what you would expect on from an active battlefield.
I’m not sure if this is an intentional aspect of the playful style, but all of the weapons feel unusually big. At first I thought this was possibly a personal calibration issue, but I’ve heard the same comment from game streamers as well. Additionally, some of the menus suffered from usability issues because of their choice of background and positioning. Most of the issues were minor oversights and only ended up being an inconvenience once I was familiar enough with the controls.
Not surprisingly, the most immersive part of Out of Ammo is when you inhabit your soldiers and actually have the gun in your virtual hands. The game features a nice collection of guns and each one has a unique feel to it. The sniper rifles, in particular, require you to physically steady your aim in order to make an effective shot. I found that the difficulty there actually makes the experience feel much more rewarding. On multiple occasions I found myself rapidly sniping enemies from my elevated tower like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Another important aspect of the immersion was the reload actions. Most games have players press a button and then sit back and watch as the gun magically goes through the reload process by itself. Out of Ammo requires you to actually pull out the spent magazine, throw it on the ground, pull a new magazine out of your pocket, and place it back into the gun.
The mounted machine gun is even more involved, requiring you to feed in a new belt of ammunition from the ammo box on the ground, close the feed cover, and then pull a charging handle, all before firing back at the incoming enemies. The faster you get at completing the reloading actions, the better player you become, and that is a fantastic feeling that goes beyond just getting good at aiming.
Thanks to the largely stationary nature of the game, I encountered no major discomfort or motion sickness while playing Out of Ammo. For the freeplay maps, players are initially placed in an elevated view of the battlefield with the ability to walk around at room-scale. All of the defensive structures that you can inhabit as a soldier are fairly small so there is not much of a need for much physical movement there. Most of my freeplay battles lasted between 20 and 30 minutes, and I would play a few in a row without any problems.
The three missions and the menu area allow players to teleport around in the same point-and-warp fashion that players are familiar with in games like The Lab, but other than that, virtual movement is mapped to what you can do in your physical room. My one complaint with the teleportation implementation is that it doesn’t prevent warping into an object. It would be nice if the teleportation bounds prevented that, but it was easy enough to work around and didn’t detract from the overall experience.
We partnered with AVA Direct to create the Exemplar 2 Ultimate, our high-end VR hardware reference point against which we perform our tests and reviews. Exemplar 2 is designed to push virtual reality experiences above and beyond what’s possible with systems built to lesser recommended VR specifications.