Try the Creative VR-centric Weapons of FPS Roguelite ‘OUTLIER’—Demo Available Now

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Joy Way, the indie VR studio that’s juggling the development of three unique VR games, this week announced a demo for OUTLIER, a VR roguelite that’s piqued our interested with creative weaponry clearly designed around VR.

Update (September 24th, 2021): Developer Joy Way has released a demo of Outlier, purportedly offering 1.5 hours of content for players to get a feel for the game’s interesting FPS gameplay. The demo is available now on Steam.

The studio is actively looking for feedback; if you played the demo and want to share your thoughts, check out the feedback form here.

While the demo is said to include three abilities, four weapons, four enemies, a boss, and 13 powerups, there’s no word yet on how the demo compares to the scope of the full game which is due to launch later this year.

The original article, which covers the announcement of Outlier, continues below.

Original Article (July 22nd, 2021): You may be familiar with Joy Way’s other two titles, STRIDE (available in early access) and AGAINST (coming later this year), both of which have their own unique character. Now the studio is, impressively, working on yet a third VR game which looks unique still—OUTLIER.

As the studio explains, after Stride, it built out two prototypes to explore a future project. One of those prototypes lead to the rhythm game Against, and the other, as we’ve now learned, has become Outlier. Joy Way describes the game as a procedurally generated VR FPS roguelite:

You are a captain of one of the last human arks. In search of a new home for humanity, your vessel was sucked into a black hole. From your position beyond space and time, you witness an unknown race devastating what looks like a habitable solar system. The unknown physics of the black hole endow you with mysterious powers and allow you to exist in parallel worlds. Live, die, and repeat in your quest to conquer at least one of these worlds in the name of mankind.

Beyond solid looking visuals, what’s immediately impressive about Outlier is the creative, VR-centric weapons shown off in the announcement trailer above.

First we see a rapid fire pistol which eventually overheats, as seen by a crystal in a small cage in the back of the gun. As it overheats, the rate of fire slows down drastically. To cool the weapon down more quickly, you can pop open the cage and shake the gun to cool the crystal.

Another interesting weapon we see is pistol-like gun that, instead of shooting bullets, shoots pieces of itself. Reloading appears to be done with a ‘pulling’ gesture, which recalls the pieces of the gun from the environment and reattaches them to be fired again.

Beyond handheld weapons, the Outlier trailer also shows some magic-like powers which can be swapped on the fly by plugging modules in the back of your gloves. In the trailer we see both a throwable fireball and a sort of force-push. The studio teases that you can combine such abilities to do even more:

The combination of power-ups and ability modifiers makes for different experiences. Combine your spells together to get new ones: mix a fireball and a telekinetic push to acquire both an explosive fireball and a fire push. Shape your character and armory between the runs to construct diverse builds for any playstyle.

Between the interesting weapons, spells, and solid visuals, there’s a lot to be intrigued by already, though the high-speed stick-based locomotion (with lots of strafing and backpedaling) doesn’t look particularly appealing to me for both comfort or immersion. Granted, Joy Way has shown a great capacity to prototype and find what works, so there’s a chance the game will change a good bit between now and launch, and even further through its early access period, which is expected to launch in late 2021.

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  • Looks really sick! Can’t wait to see what it’s like!

  • I like the Return-Gun, that’s a good mechanic. Not fond of the Shake-Weight Gun, seems tiresome in combat. You want a quick action, something that snaps. Anything you can throw in VR can be super hard to aim, as there’s no weight to objects in VR, so I’m not too sure about the fireballs.

    The environments look really interesting. The enemies… not so much. They seem about as dumb as sticks with only basic attacks. But they so seem serviceable as bullet sponges. The quality of the end game will all come down to pacing and surprises. I can see this being good or super-bland, just depending on level design.

    If the game price isn’t bad, I’d buy it for a good distraction. Hopefully that Return-Gun gets unlocked early in the game.

    I’d also suggest a Xena-Captain America-Thors Hammer style weapon that you release in the direction of the enemy, it bounces around for extra damage, and then returns. Those are always fun!

    Oh, and any weapon that harpoons enemies and pins them to walls. Love that stuff!

    • doug

      Anything you can throw in VR can be super hard to aim, as there’s no
      weight to objects in VR, so I’m not too sure about the fireballs.

      Fireballs in The Wizards: Dark Times are a blast (heh). The player can fine-tune the amount of auto-homing assist in the options. Great way to do throwing in VR.

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    • I actually disagree on the shake-weight gun (Cage gun, for anyone who watches on youtube). It’s a VR centric weapon that has pretty great balance. In fact it’s basically my favorite gun in the game so far. You dont have to wait until the gun overheats to shake it either, you can be basically constantly shaking it in between spouts of shooting to make sure it never overheats, which is awesome, and the full auto definitely helps the spray-and-sway-ey nature of the gun.

  • kebo

    Enemy animation looks a little alpha but the high pace, fast movement got me right from the start. There is a market for VR beginners and after all this time devs shouldn’t be shy about games for us with VR legs (give us Portal 2 with the portal gun).

    For everyone who missed it: in the first seconds you jump from high ground and pull yourself downwards for smashing.. really cool! VR has endless abilities for new controls and it’s the VR interactions that make VR what it is!

  • This motion sickness simulator has also some shooting action… :D

    Jokes apart, I’m not impressed by this gameplay trailer… of course a VR game must be tried to be judged, so I’m waiting to give you my final impression

  • Jonathan Winters III

    This dev has NEVER completed a game – ALL are stuck in early access or abandoned, some for years already. They abandoned one I purchased, to move on to the next, rinse and repeat. Beware.

    • That’s a bummer, I really like Stride.

      • Jonathan Winters III

        Me too, but go to their Youtube channel and you’ll see every one of their many games they started – but never finished one. Russian devs for the money grab? We’ll see if they change their pattern, hopefully. They’ve got some great games that just need completion.

  • “which looks unique still”… Come on, proofreader!

  • kebo

    1.5 hours of content? You mean 0.5 perhaps? I just played it in that time..

  • Dmacell

    No support for winmr. Sadly another game I cant play on my g-2

  • So the lack of music in the demo is a bit disappointing, but other than that I’m absolutely in LOVE with what Joy way has made with this one so far. Obviously the company has a shadowed past due to not finishing many games, but the polish and ingenuity in the weapon designs for this demo blew me away. After a minute or so of practice I had the dash mechanic down (it works in sort of a similar way to Climbey VR’s jump mechanic) and the ability to vault over walls using your free hand was amazing! I will say that changing weapons out in the demo was a little annoying (you couldn’t just drop a weapon to pick up another, you had to holster your old weapon to pick a new one up) but the enemy variety is pretty solid so far and the boss fight was awesome, reminded me of Kevin from Robo Recall.

    Hope this game gets a story (at least enough of one to explain why you’re an astronaut traversing this strange realm and fighting it’s seemingly indigenous peoples) but I’ve loved my time in it so far (played it for about an hour, so like 2 times through the dungeon demo)

  • Also, a little tip for anyone hopping into the demo for the first time:

    Once you attach your fire gem to your hand, it will also give a burn effect to your bullets, so any time you hit a ground enemy, they’ll catch on fire! Super cool way to keep your upgrades active even if your hands are full!