Seeking Dawn (2018) is a sci-fi first-person shooter which puts you in the boots of a space marine who’s assigned to carry out a search and rescue mission on a mysterious alien planet. Including a single player campaign, and online co-op which lets you and your friends or strangers team up, Seeking Dawn promises a full-feature game with multiple hours of gameplay, however this results in only just enough incentive to keep you hunting around for that last uranium rock to spend on that OP rocket launcher you’ve had your eye on.

Seeking Dawn Details:

Official Site

Developer: Multiverse
Available On: Steam (HTC ViveOculus Rift, PC), Oculus Store (Rift), PSVR (TBA)
Reviewed On: Oculus Rift, Tested on HTC Vive
Release Date: July 12th, 2018

Note to the reader (July 11th, 2018): I wasn’t able to get into an online match during my time with Seeking Dawn, so I’ll be posting an update once the game goes live and multiplayer servers are up and running.

Gameplay

As a soldier of the First Centauri Republic (FCR), you’re after the missing Major Walker and his team who were sent to the alien planet to find what promises to be a powerful key to put an end to the ongoing war with the Alpha Centauri Commonwealth (ACC), a new nemesis in the 24th century universe of expanding human influence over the stars. The story is your standard sci-fi shooter fare, so don’t expect much more than a SyFy ‘B’ movie script and voice talent. While it can be cringey at times, it’s mostly an innocuous pretense to the alien-ganking action.

Like a jack of all trades, Seeking Dawn carries with it a longer than usual list of features for VR games currently: single player and online multiplayer co-op, resource gathering, weapon & equipment crafting, base construction, and survival elements that require you to stay properly fed, watered and full of appropriate ammo types throughout the game.

Image courtesy Multiverse

Shooting is a simple experience. All guns have a projected aiming reticle that requires no need for lining up the sights and aiming down the barrel. All guns are single-handed, so you can choose to go dual auto-pistols, or even dual rocket launchers if you have the material. Simply grip to reload, or wait for the last spent cartridge to exit the gun.

Basic crafting materials are found in a number of ways; everything you destroy drops something valuable to the overall goal of building guns, armor, mini construction factories, ammo – everything has its price. Enemies drop meat, and crafting items like collagen which are used in construction. Trees, which you explode with your handy Woodchucker, give a few types of wood and health-restoring berries. Dedicated mineral deposits, which you can explode with your Excabreaker, give out a number of minerals that are important to crafting guns and other non-lethal tools. Your Woodchucker and Excabreaker are invaluable, as you use them up the very end of the game to harvest resources.

A tree ready to explode, Image captured by Road to VR

That said, there are no tech trees, or upgrade systems—what you see is what you get, and you’ll predictably abandon about half of the 5-6 total guns as you encounter more powerful enemies like high-level ACC soldiers. In the later quarter of the game, I found myself using the rocket launcher almost exclusively, as it provides infinite ammo and does around 400 HP damage; this felt a bit cheaty, as I would launch a barrage of rockets at a wall where I suspected enemies to be, and hit points would magically register. For a game that boasts crafting as a big feature, I was expecting a lot more variability in that department. Once you get the hang of clearing an area of minerals and trees, crafting really just becomes a timed hurdle to obtaining any specific weapon (eg: a big boss is coming up, and surprise surprise, I see my first deposit of uranium – something required for a level item.)

Crafting guns and tools, Image captured by Road to VR

In short, weapon and tool crafting is fun to begin with, but soon becomes a dull chore with expected rewards handed down at important intervals in the game, making it essentially a monolithic loot chest with tedious extra steps in between.

To manage all of your weapons and tools on the go, you’re given what I consider a basically good and functional inventory system. A button press brings up a ring with a limited number of slots, and by selecting the weapon or health item, you equip it in either your left or right hand to be used. Because of how often you use the Woodchucker and Excabreaker though, I would have much rather preferred a hotbutton to quickly switch between guns and tools for quicker harvesting and battle readiness. A larger inventory, which is best consulted when out of harm’s way, lets you swap out items into your quick inventory.

Full inventory, Image captured by Road to VR

Enemies are varied enough to keep things interesting. Regular enemies include flying bug-types, massive tanks, fast tiger-like aliens, hopping scavengers, and ACC soldiers of various abilities. While you can count the number of bosses on two or three fingers, they always prove to be extremely tough—which when compared to the crappy little baddies running around, make for a clear ramping of difficulty. To beat the mid-game boss, I struggled for over an hour to scavenge wood to create enough bullets to take him down. Only near the end did I feel like the difficulty plateaued to an even pace.

Image courtesy Multiverse

The game includes a single prefabricated base, and that’s where the part of the game forces you to throw some resources at building turrets during specific times (no random attacks). But even skimping on turrets and using my own two hands proved to be a fairly simple.

Image captured by Road to VR

Like with crafting, this is a moment when I wish the feature set could really lived up to my expectations instead of being a couple of wave-based defense missions. I wanted to build out my base and have to worry about defending them from savage alien beasts, but instead I was given a voice over prompt from my omnipresent Captain Coleman for the games few base defense missions.

My personal gameplay time was 11 hours, which is about half as long as the studio says it should take. I’ll admit I was using the fastest possible way to get from point A to point B: walking at max speed with automatic running, which I’ll talk about in the Comfort section below.

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Immersion

Immersion is a bit of a mixed bag in Seeking Dawn.

Every once in a while you’re treated to real moments of awe, as you round a bend and find yourself staring at an enormous mushroom swarming with neon jellyfish, or what I can only describe as a skyscraper-sized alien Brontosaurus who curiously casts a look in your direction from what seems like a mile away. There are a few giant baddies out there too that will have you fearing the long trudge back to the start of the level if you forgot to set a teleporter node. The set pieces and level design are definitely highlights in Seeking Dawn.

Image captured by Road to VR

The game’s visuals are certainly a cut above many, but I do have a few healthy niggles. Smaller geometry like plants and ammo boxes pop in after only a short radius, and faraway textures can look muddy at times even on high settings (low is decidedly much more messy). Several times I’ve wandered into a level to find it barren of enemies, only to hear the drumming beat of the fight music piped into my ears as creatures pop out of nowhere. This only puts a slight damper on the overall effect: a varied, iridescent world that transmits an eerie beauty across several biomes. Dank cave systems open up to underground crystal structures, pulsing alien trees loaded with glowing fruit, and even a few hellish underbellies littered with bones and rotting corpses, and some with burping volcanoes and dizzying heights.

Let’s make no bones about it: Seeking Dawn is very much a game that relies on some traditional gaming shorthand that’s oftentimes more concerned with delivering an efficient way of traveling, killing enemies, building structures, etc, than giving you a 1:1 experience of crash landing on an alien planet.

Hit counters let you know when you’ve landed a critical hit on an enemy, and big white numbers pop up above their head to tell you what it’s worth. This is convenient, and maybe even forgivable for a sci-fi shooter game, but it still feels like I’m playing a game, with all the regular traditional conventions attached.

Image captured by Road to VR

Object interaction is carried out via ‘force powers’, meaning you need to hit a single button to quickly collect crafting items, even ones out of your arm’s reach. This is much more comfortable than having to pick up the thousands of items, but it does come at the cost of hand presence. Once an item is locked on, you can’t let go until you reinsert it into your inventory, or swap it for something else.

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Comfort

Seeking Dawn offers a bevy of locomotion choices suited for most people: head and hand-relative forward locomotion, smooth turning, snap-turning, ‘blink’ teleportation (driving a ghost of yourself until you reach your desired teleport destination) and of course room-scale locomotion, although there’s not much of a reason to move around your room outside of the standing position. You can also play seated, although you’ll be ‘seated’ in the game as well. There is brief exception during climbing portions of the game, where handholds may be out of your reach.

One other locomotion style rounds out the bunch. There’s also a ‘swinging your arms to run’ mode which turned out not to be as fun or comfortable as I’d hoped, as it introduces artificial head-bob. This in general is something most VR developers stay away from because of the associated nausea, although it seems the arm-swinging did help mitigate this some. Instead, I opted to use head-relative walking with an automatic run option which lets you pick up speed gradually.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
6.5

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  • Sandy Wich

    That’s weird, I tested, “arm swinging locomotion”, in a couple VR games and really found them quite comfortable. But they didn’t really add much headbob… If any at all.

    ..Wonder why they chose to add artificial head bob? Should have at least given the option to turn it off?

  • CazCore

    “hand presence” is something i do not want, if it means having to bend down IRL to pick things up. that’s one of the worst cancers of VR, slowing down its mainstream adoption.

    • Raphael

      Don’t delude yourself into thinking the majority of VR users are like you. Hand presence is evolving for a reason and it all adds to the realism.

      • CazCore

        knew i’d get these retarded responses. you don’t even know what i’m talking about. got hung up on words rather than meanings.

        • Raphael

          You’re good at knowing stuff flappy. :)

      • dogbite

        One need only play a game like Lone Echo which was written for Touch from the ground up to appreciate your point. It adds so much to a game when the controllers so elegantly translate what your hands are doing.

        • CazCore

          not at all what i was talking about.

    • brubble

      Maybe stick to gaming on monitors then? …. V….R.

      • CazCore

        knew i’d get these retarded responses. and you stick to real life chores.

        • brubble

          Way ahead of you.

    • Raphael

      I have never heard anyone else complaining about having to bend down and pick things up. I’ve done it in VR games. No issue. I have zero back problems.

      Slowing down mainstream adoption:

      1: Cost of VR hardware.
      2: Cost of PC to run VR hardware.
      3: Pixel density.
      4: Cables.
      255: Bending down to pick stuff up.

      • dogbite

        Just because we don’t go around complaining about it does not mean your knees don’t hurt when you bent over more and more, as you age. You will find out. Many of the polled Pimax backers were as old as 50’s and up. Makes sense as we have the disposable income to play with Kickstarters. I suspect we are a large part of the early adopters of gen 1 hardware,
        If your knees have not experienced any arthritic symptoms you are likely not in the age group yet and if you never do you will be extremely rare, I hope you will still try to enjoy VR until the day you die. I sill play golf in RL and enjoy it. This does not mean I enjoy pick up the ball all day. We have all sorts of ball retrievers.
        There is one game (“can remember which off hand) were when over a target on the ground you can grip and obtain it while standing. These devs understand the age of the average pc gamer. My generation invented it.

        • Raphael

          I am 50+ flappy. You do realise that haptic gloves aren’t just for bending over and piclking things up? Case in point: Flight sim X with leap motion so pilots can use their fingers to activate cockpit controls.

          DCS World VR users want the same for DCS World. It’s coming. Plexus are working on affordable haptic gloves.

          Bending over isn’t my favorite thing to do in VR but that’s a very small non-typical use of haptic gloves or finger detection via leapmotion.

      • CazCore

        normal people are what’s needed to adopt VR. not abnormals who prioritize “being in the world, %100 total immersion” over entertainment & enjoyment.

        sure, stick your head in the VR-early-adopter forum sand, and announce that you’ve never heard normal thoughts from normal people. lotta good that’ll do your cause.

        also feel free to ignore that many people DO have back problems, simply due to the fact that YOU don’t.
        thanks for confirming my suspicions.

  • Sven Viking

    Seems strange for bullets to require crafting but rockets to be unlimited.

  • Jerald Doerr

    Hummm hope that was real (VR) game play graphics… To this day I have not seen one VR title that uses depth of field or motion blur.. I know it taxing on video cards… but some of us have kick ass systems… at least give us the option.

    • Raphael

      We won’t need artificial DOF with future gen VR hardware.

      • Jerald Doerr

        Wow…. I can’t stand people who basically say… “There’s no reson” go away… Ied love to see someone get smart and use it… just because you can’t understand why does not mean anyone else can’t or should not use it or motion blur as a visual advantage for your software…

        Ok… Raphael… why won’t we need artificial DOF… now or with future gen VR?

        God that hole line doesn’t even make sence..

  • HomeAudio

    Amazin graphic, interestin/polished locations, a lot of options for game customization, good sound, crafting, resource managment.. Hmmm…. 6.5/10??? And “Drop Dead” is getting 7 from RoadToVR? Hmmm…. Something is wrong here with this verdict. I am playing this game already few days – for me definitly 8/10 or maybe even 9/10. I will give 9/10 if performance will be improved a little and some elements more balanced (like health managment). Definitly I can recomend this game.
    Regards!

  • Frank Xu

    From the Developer of Seeking Dawn:

    We appreciate the issues reported in this article, and will make sure to have these issues fixed as soon as possible.

    The good thing is, what we didn’t get quite right are the things that are relatively easy to fix (difficulty, lack of a map, survival features), whereas the things that we did get right would be much harder and costlier to fix (art, level design, enemy design, AI, etc.).

    We promise the VR community that we will continue working on Seeking Dawn and make it one of the best VR games ever created!

    • East Podunk

      nice copy and paste template

    • Gonzalo Novoa

      That’s good to hear. The game looks very intersting but the things I’ve read about crafting and survival make me think twice about buying it. Perhaps an option like in the game The Solus Project where you can choose the level of ‘survival” you want would be ideal.

      • HomeAudio

        It is really not so bad as some people are telling. Of course you have to collect resources and keep eye on your health… but it is not so bad! It is rather easy to produce more food or water bottles and keep it with you (the same with bullets for gun). Nice system of teleporting is also helping a lot in moving between locations. It is definitly worth to try. Only one buying stopper can be suggested requirements of this game (1070… ) – but graphic and visual effect recompensate it. Regards!

        • Gonzalo Novoa

          Thanks for your reply, if the crafting is not as bad as it sounds then I think I’m going to get it, sometimes reviews are a bit overkill.

  • HybridEnergy

    From what I have read it’s the performance that’s stopping me from a purchase at the moment. I have a Vive Pro and a 1080 ti 7700k, I’m tired of feeling with VR games like I have a potato when I have one of the best gaming cards money can buy. under sampling and choosing lower than medium for settings on 1080 tis is hilarious, that’s my rant in VR in general…why does every game feel like it’s CRYSIS all over again. We need to hit 90 fps or we vomit devs, hit 90 on a base 1070 and then work from there.

  • HybridEnergy

    After playing the game a bit now, I have applied for my Steam refund. This is a generous score. I’m really starting to hate the UNITY engine, as a VR enthusiast I’m tired of seeing reused assets and poor performance across a range of high end machines. Devs need to start making all their art on their own and programming engines for their game. I don’t care about the “but muh VR cOmUnitY toO Smallz” . The performance is awful, purchased assets everywhere, I’m not sure they licensed this music from Audiomachine and Two Steps from Hell, I hope for their sake they did, the voice acting is cheesy, the character models are terrible and lips don’t sync. The game-play is okay, it’s lengthy because it’s padded with loot/crafting. It’s another 14.99 – 19.99 maybe VR small dev game, this isn’t a 39.99 Lone Echo competitor the way some people make it sound. Wait for sale if you are curious.