Released today, Asgard’s Wrath is the latest title published by Oculus Studios, which also means it’s technically exclusive to the company’s Rift headset. Luckily, there’s a free unofficial mod which makes most Oculus content available to non-Oculus headsets. We tested Asgard’s Wrath with both Index and Vive and found that the game works on both, though haven’t been able to get it working with Cosmos just yet.

Asgard’s Wrath may technically be exclusive to the Oculus store, but if you own Index or Vive you can still dive into its purported 30+ hours of VR RPG gameplay thanks to Revive, a free unofficial mod which makes it possible to play Oculus content with SteamVR headsets.

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'Asgard's Wrath' Review – VR's Epic Norse Saga of Godlike Proportions

Revive works for the majority of Oculus games, though sometimes the experience translates better or worse due to controller differences and game design. To see how it fares we tested Asgard’s Wrath with Index, Vive, and Cosmos using the latest version of Revive (v1.8.1); here’s what we found.

Asgard’s Wrath on Valve Index

Image courtesy Valve

Asgard’s Wrath definitely plays best with Index, not only because it has the best visuals of the bunch, but especially because its controllers offer nearly identical inputs to the Oculus Touch controllers for which Asgard’s Wrath was designed. The game is built around frequent thumbstick locomotion, ‘continuous hold’ grabbing, and buttons, all of which the Index controllers excel at.

Aside from ‘grabbing’ feeling a little sensitive on the Index controllers due to its default grab setting in Revive which interprets just about any input to the handle as a ‘grab’, from an input standpoint, Asgard’s Wrath on Index feels almost like a native game. Tip: it might not be clear but the ‘menu’ button (used in the game to check objectives and open the menu) is mapped to the center of the right trackpad on the Index controllers.

Asgard’s Wrath on Vive

When it comes to Vive (and this should extend to Vive Pro too), Asgard’s Wrath technically works, but it’s a more cumbersome experience because the Vive controllers are different from Touch controllers in a few key ways.

While Touch and Index controllers both have thumbsticks and buttons, the Vive wands instead rely on a large trackpad. Revive handles this difference by mapping sections of the trackpad to a virtual thumbstick and buttons.

Image courtesy Revive

So far everything in the game that we tested technically works with Vive and its controllers, but the abstraction from the thumbsticks and buttons to the trackpad feels quite wonky until you start to build up some good muscle memory. Even then, the Vive wands have a grab button which is not particularly great for ‘continuous hold’ grabbing; since Asgard’s Wrath is designed for continuous hold, you might find some added clunkiness.

We also found that the way that Asgard’s Wrath implements ‘force grab’ doesn’t work as naturally as with Touch or Index controllers because of the particular hand position of the Vive controllers.

Asgard’s Wrath on Cosmos

Image courtesy HTC

Though we’ve been able to load Oculus content on Cosmos with Revive, we haven’t yet been able to get the Cosmos controllers to be recognized by the games.

There’s some talk on the Revive discussion board which suggests that the controllers must currently be manually mapped through SteamVR to work with Revive. A default mapping is apparently in the works, so a future version of the software could fix the issue out of the box; we’ll need more time to explore and test the manual mapping option.

Performance of Asgard’s Wrath with Revive

Image courtesy Sanzaru Games

The one big downside to playing Asgard’s Wrath with Revive seems to be performance. Even with an RTX 2080 Ti, the game didn’t run particularly smoothly without relying on SteamVR’s Motion Smoothing feature.

If you run into performance issues be sure your supersampling setting in Steam is not cranked higher than recommended, and consider turning down some in-game settings as well. If you ultimately can’t find a good balance between smooth performance and decent visuals, don’t forget that Oculus has a refund policy.

It’s also worth noting that when the game goes through a loading screen you will typically be dropped back to the SteamVR ‘construct’ space as the loading screen flashes somewhat annoyingly in front of you. This isn’t bothersome enough to give up on the game entirely, but know that you can minimize the time spent staring at the flashing loading screen by making room for the massive (130GB) game on an SSD rather than an HDD.

Important Notes & Tips

One helpful touch in Asgard’s Wrath is that you can hold both your hands up to your face at any time and it will show the controllers and buttons so that you can refresh your memory of which is which. Buttons also light up when you touch them, which is very useful because this carries through to Revive. Especially with the Vive controllers, using this trick is extremely useful to remember where each button is mapped on the trackpad because you can see a visual representation of what button the game thinks you are touching.

While the portions of the game that we tested all worked fine with Index and Vive controllers, this is a massive game and it’s possible there’s some parts that for one reason or another won’t work correctly due to differences in input capabilities—we’re not making any guarantees here since we haven’t had a chance to play through the entirety of the game with one set of controllers yet let alone two!

Granted, SteamVR’s controller mapping features go pretty deep, so it’s likely that those willing to dive in would be able to find workarounds to any input-based roadblocks. Playing with SteamVR controller mapping could also generally improve the Asgard’s Wrath Revive experience with some customizations (adjusting the ‘grab’ sensitivity of Index controllers comes to mind), though we haven’t had a chance to toy with this just yet.

Another point worth noting is that Revive is an unofficial mod, and while Oculus has opted to tolerate it, there’s no guarantee they will continue to do so. If you buy Oculus content to play via Revive, be aware that it could stop working without warning.

Where’s Pimax and Windows VR?

We’re planning to also test with Asgard’s Wrath with Pimax and Windows VR as well. We didn’t prioritize Windows VR out of the gate due to its limited controller tracking area which may not play too well with a game like Asgard’s Wrath. On the other hand, Pimax has its own solution for playing Oculus content which is separate from Revive, so we’ll be testing that separately.

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  • 3872Orcs

    I was all excited until I read this: “The one big downside to playing Asgard’s Wrath with Revive seems to be performance. Even with an RTX 2080 Ti, the game didn’t run particularly smoothly without relying on SteamVR’s Motion Smoothing feature.”

    This has mainly been my biggest gripe with Revive in the past. I was never happy with the performance. Not sure now if I’ll get the game if it’s not running smooth :-/

    Why is performance such an issue with Revive? Is there no way past this?

    • Rosko

      I think performance isn’t that great on native platforms either looking at the reviews. Also on Index at least, you are pushing far more pixels & running a higher refresh rate. I also think the fact that Steam VRs motion smoothing is so poor in comparison to Oculus ASW it can make performance worse.

      • Ugur Ister

        Exactly. Any translation/intermediary layer always adds some performance cost, but besides that addition, there is also the side that if one runs on a headset which has higher refresh rate or higher resolution, there is much more rendering cost there per second, so that requires better hardware then.
        And yes, Oculus has quite good compensation for lower update rate for brief periods situations and the others don’t have it on that level yet regarding that aspect.

        • TailsR

          If only there was an option to set the Index framerate to 90 fps… Oh wait.

          • Ugur Ister

            yeah, of course there is, one can adjust target framerate, renderscale etc in Steam VR or elsewhere and then also ingame lower the graphics settings as needed.

            The thing is: i think lots of people are not aware that, depending on their hardware setup, it could be the much better choice to set to a lower refresh rate or lower resolution or lower graphics settings etc.
            Lots of people think if i can set the framerate this high (or have it not set to a limit) and run at max theoretical resolution / fov, that’s gonna be the best experience, right?
            And setting all graphics settings to the highest settings in game is so nice, i want the best possible look, right?
            Those kinds of thoughts, not thinking about or not knowing that it is much more important to have a solid steady framerate than one which jumps to 120 for a few seconds and then drops down to 40 or similar in super unsteady way.
            Some combinations of settings are also not instantly intuitive to end users, like whether it makes more sense to crank up renderscale or AA or how much performance impact this graphical setting has over the other or how much look difference it makes or not and whether it is more worth to do this setting or that one then instead.

            I work on software myself and i used to set things to medium to high settings by default in the past often on pc based on what average systems of my target audience should be able to run.

            With VR it is not as clear cut one setting/solution fits all thing, because for example if one can run a high framerate constantly, a high framerate is much more desireable than a low framerate, higher refresh rate just helps reducing sim sickness causes a lot for lots of people.
            (Hence why one can hear some people who have a rig that can run high refresh rates on Index nicely that that is reducing sim sickness for them or their friends and family)
            But if one would set it very high and higher than the machine of the user can handle steadily, then one has achieved the opposite of what one wanted, it runs at less constant, less steady framerate then and hence more prone to cause sim sickness then, as things don’t react in the steadiness and way the brain expects and got used to.
            (One can train the brain to get used to many things but sim sickness is basically the unexpected mismatch not used to yet between eye sensor movement data and inner ear sensor movement data)

            So going forward i’ll set it to still nice but lower settings by default, set it to higher defaults only for a few high end graphics hardware options i know about and then the enthusiasts are those who can (and would likely) go into the settings and change it to higher settings if my check detecting for a handful hardware setups does not automatically set it to higher for them; for most average users i think better to set it to lower ones by default so they more likely get a good experience without messing around.

        • Abion47

          Display refresh rate has nothing to do with your computer’s performance. Whether the headset supports 60 Hz or 600 Hz, that doesn’t change how many frames your computer is physically capable of producing. Running the game on a headset with a higher refresh rate isn’t going to change how the game performs if your computer can’t keep up either way. If you’re stuttering along at 75 FPS in game, you will get the performance of 75 FPS whether you’re on 90 Hz for the Rift, 80 Hz for the Rift S, or 120/144 Hz for the Index.

          As another example, imagine you had a DVD with a video encoded at 30 FPS. Does the DVD player suddenly have to work harder to decode those frames if you upgraded from a 60 Hz TV to a 120 Hz TV? Of course not – the DVD is going to churn out exactly the same number of frames at exactly the same rate, and it doesn’t care how fast the TV wants to display them.

          The only way it could change is for the better, when your computer is capable of generating frames faster than the headset is capable of displaying them, in which case a headset with a higher refresh rate will use those frames as opposed to a lower refresh rate headset that will just waste them.

          The increased pixel count of the Index definitely affects performance, but the increased refresh rate? It doesn’t affect it at all.

          • Ugur Ister

            yes to some, no to some other parts.
            yes, the refresh rate a headset can handle does not affect by itself how much the computer can output. but if for example a developer does not set the target framerate then some different platforms usually set the target framerate to one of the settings their headset supports ideally or allow the user to set it to a different setting if there are multiple options.
            if let’s say a game would run at pretty smooth constant 90 fps on your rig and i the target framerate to 90 (or you do it in your other settings places), then you get pretty smooth pretty constant 90 (if your headset etc supports it).
            but let’s say instead i set the target framerate and you or your vr config tool sets it to 120 and your headset could update at 120 but your graphics card can’t keep up with that then more likely it will jump up and down frequently between what it tries to push and the lower values it instead can achieve most of the time.
            So you then get higher fps in some moments but also usually way more jumpy fps rates.
            then there are other aspects like on many rigs things getting throttled down for some time when running at max tilt the system can handle (before overheating)
            so setting things to higher settings for longer running things like games is only recommended to the degree your rig can also handle that in smooth steady way in sustained longer usage way.

          • Abion47

            First of all, unless the game you are playing imposes artificial FPS limits, the computer will always simulate and render the game as fast as it is able to do so (with some caveats). If your computer renders the game at 120 FPS, then that’s how many frames it generates, and that has nothing to do with how many frames end up actually getting displayed on the screen. There’s a big difference between saying a 120 Hz display needs a better GPU to max out than a 90 Hz display and saying the mere act of having a 120 Hz display plugged in means the computer has to work harder than if a 90 Hz display was plugged in.

            Secondly, if your system can’t handle 120 FPS without intermittently thermal-throttling or otherwise having periods of lowered performance (i.e. varying wildly between 120 FPS and, say, 80 FPS), I wouldn’t describe your system as being able to “handle 120 FPS”. This could very well be what is happening in your situation; when your graphics card can’t handle what’s being demanded of it at base clock speeds, it starts boosting like mad to be able to keep up, but boosting for long periods can cause a card to quickly overheat, so it thermal throttles until it cools back down. This is not the fault of the graphics card itself nor the headset’s refresh rate, but of you demanding more from the card than it is able to give.

            Thirdly, other than the thermal throttling issue (see above), I’ve never experienced or heard of anyone else experiencing what you’re describing without it having a simple explanation. For example:

            If your graphics card is cranking out 90 FPS no problem then all of a sudden drops to 45 FPS for a few seconds (and isn’t overheating), that usually means something else in your system is bottlenecking the game. Maybe your hard drive is the bottleneck due to loading level data or textures. Maybe your CPU is the bottleneck while doing some physics calculations or AI processing. Maybe your RAM is bottleneck because you maxed it out and the OS started overflowing onto the hard drive. A lot of things can cause a bottleneck during the normal play of a game, and at the end of the day your system is only as good as its worst component.

            You could also just be going from a simpler scene that your graphics card can handle no problem into a more complex scene that the graphics card can’t quite keep up with. This is fairly typical, particularly in open world games with instanced interior areas (such as Skyrim: being in a house, cave, or dungeon vs being in the overworld).

            If your GPU is having the behavior you’re describing, and you’re absolutely sure your GPU isn’t thermal-throttling, you aren’t being bottlenecked by something else in your system, and it isn’t explainable by just typical differences in scene complexity, then I would suggest that maybe you should check if there’s something wrong with your GPU. A variance of a handful of FPS is normal just due to the overall state of your system, but an FPS fluxuation of tens of FPS with all else being equal is really not typical GPU behavior.

          • Ugur Ister

            i’m getting the feeling we’re arguing despite agreeing on the same points

    • Jarilo

      It kinda runs poorly on all headsets to be honest, but this game should NOT be missed. It’s the best game VR natively has seen ever.

  • Rosko

    Thanks useful article.

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    Good to know since I bought it this morning and have an Index.

    • gothicvillas

      How was it? I’m on Index too, gpu Titan x but my i7 is on slower side.. not sure if I should bother as I would hate any inconsistencies

      • Zachary Scott Dickerson

        I’ve only played 2 hours, but very good so far. I run a GTX1080ti w/ i7 8700k @ 4.7ghz and 16GB DDR4 w/ SSD.

  • Thoemse

    Performance is great on ther Pimax headsets as long you use Pimax own Tool to launch. Revive slows things down.

  • Jean Frederic Ely

    try revive 1.8.2 , that s work fine for me, with odyssey+
    https://github.com/LibreVR/Revive/tags