Onward (2016), the popular VR FPS known for serving up its ‘no-frills’ squad-based action, is now in Early Access on the Oculus Store. The tactical mil-sim shooter, which aims to appeal to fans of traditional shooters like Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, or Counter-Strike, now features cross-play between both versions of the game—purchased through either Oculus or Steam.
Onward has supported Rift through SteamVR since it moved into Steam Early Access back in August 2016, although admittedly the Touch optimization was less than ideal until recently, with Touch getting a fresh button remapping a few days prior to launch on the Oculus Store.
As a bid to appeal to traditional FPS-players, Onward doesn’t feature teleportation—a common method of traversing large maps in VR—but rather has what you might call a ‘traditional’ locomotion scheme: smooth forward movement is locked to the physical direction of your hand, leaving you with the ability to look in a direction regardless of where you might be headed. As a locomotion style built initially for Vive’s trackpad, it’s had somewhat of a mixed reception on both platforms; either you can stomach it, or you can’t. Onward also offers a front-facing mode for Rift players that mitigates some of the discomfort by allowing snap-turning, and also lets you control your forward, backward and strafe controls via hand position and Touch’s joysticks themselves.
Oculus rates Onward a ‘moderately comfortable’ experience.
Onward dev and founder of Downpour Interactive Dante Buckley, who remains the driving force behind the game, says the team tightened down on Touch’s button mapping after its free weekend two months ago.
“We took a lot of the feedback from the free weekend and used it to help us shape a better control scheme for Onward,” says Buckley. “This new default control scheme is default, and we’ve added in some options for players to further tweak the experience to suit their preferences.”
The Early Access game features objective based game modes in 5v5 online multiplayer, and solo/coop multiplayer vs AI. With 30 different customizable weapons available, there’s plenty of ways to support your squad.
As a game that requires players to use coordination, communication, and most importantly marksmanship skill to complete objectives, giving players on both platforms equal attention is fundamental to keeping things fair. While the locomotion scheme is still an acquired taste for many, the hardcore adherents to the Onward way of life will continue to proselytize the game for its ability to deliver a traditional shooting experience—something many big studios have shied away from.