Ubisoft today announced that Space Junkies, the multiplayer arcade VR shooter, is going into closed beta in early 2018. We got a chance to go hands-on with a more developed prototype of the game at this year’s Oculus Connect, and while many of the basics haven’t changed much from our time with it at E3, it’s certainly shaping up to be a fuller experience with more crazy guns and at least 4 giant arena-sized maps for the closed beta.
In a 2v2 team deathmatch, I got a chance to see what a real battle feels like in Space Junkies, as the last time we played it was in a more demure setting with only the developers to shoot down. True to its main selling point, the match was fast-paced and featured a mad grab for the most powerful guns which float in predetermined spots in the zero-G map.
I also got a chance to play a free-for-all deathmatch, which took place in the same sprawling, meteor-encrusted mining facility as the earlier prototype, but according to Ubisoft, the map had been expanded further to give the players more hiding spots and cover from incoming fire.
Guns are greatly varied, some of them requiring two hands to pump or fire. You start out with a whimpy pistol on your hip, but you can wait for the random gun generator to give you something better before you spawn on the map. Guns like rocket launchers, OP lasers, and Gatling guns predictably take a long time to reload and charge up, but pretty much do major damage.
There’s also a light sword and shield that you can carry, but unlike the earlier version of the game, the sword was no longer able to deflect gun blasts. I would have loved to have played a swords-only match to see just how reliable the weapon is when faced with another sword-wielding player, but alas, I’ll have to wait until the closed beta takes effect in a few months to see if anyone will agree to a momentary cease fire.
Despite being on the same horizontal plane as the rest of the combatants, having the full 3 dimensions at your disposal creates an interesting dynamic, as you can never tell where the shots will come from next. As long as you’re not boosting around and going normal speed, you’ll be undetectable to the opposite team, meaning combat may evolve into a less intense hide-and-seek match of popping out behind cover and quickly retreating to safety instead of going to the center with guns a’blazing.
You can register for the closed beta here. Ubisoft says they’re aiming for a spring 2018 release on Oculus Rift+Touch, HTC Vive, and Windows VR headsets.