Skydance Games, the studio behind The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners franchise, is getting the hype train fueled for its next big single-player VR game, Skydance’s BEHEMOTH, which promises to bring a bevy of immersive melee combat and epic adventuring to all major VR headsets later this year.

We haven’t gone hands-on yet, although we got an early look at an extended gameplay session from a vertical slice, which takes you to the first gigantic boss—your first Behemoth of many.

We also got a chance to speak to Shawn Kittelsen, Vice President of Creative for the game, where we learned a bunch of new information about Skydance’s Behemoth, which, as you’d imagine, borrows a solid amount of interaction stuff pioneered in the studio’s critically-acclaimed Saints & Sinners franchise.

Gameplay: just the tip of a 12-hour iceberg

The new video shows off a good deal beyond the first official gameplay video released late last week. The caveat here is the vertical slice was an abbreviated version of the game that cuts down on the initial tutorial, and removes some spaces in between areas to showcase more of what the game is all about. We learned Skydance’s Behemoth is going to be heavy on diegetic interfaces—the sort of in-world interactions that notably shy away from menus, screens, and laser pointer-style stuff you might see in games not originally built with VR immersion in mind. It’s an ‘immersion-first’ design concept anyone will recognize from Saints & Sinners which promises crafting things with your own two hands and experiencing the world more or less naturally.

Take a look at nine-minute video below, which we edited to include only first-person interactions. It features a ton of stuff, which we break down in more detail below, although you’ll notice we’ve left out much of the big Behemoth boss fight at the end, which was done on the studio’s request to let players figure out how to take down the hulking beast by themselves.

No spoilers here: the video’s final boss fight is filled with innovative interactions that challenge you to face an enemy that is reactive, and not a scripted environmental object in nature. Basically, it’s a big enemy the size of a skyscraper who is actively targeting you as you do your best to identify weak points and avoid the hulking beast’s world-shaking blows.

Ok, so here’s a breakdown of what you might have already gathered from the video above, supplemented with information from Kittelsen:

Stepping into the boots of voiceless protagonist Wren, we learn that we’re infected with a blight that has created a place called ‘The Forsaken Lands’, which is full of other infected foes who worship the Behemoths. Why? We don’t know, but like the curse in Princess Mononoke, the blight gives the infected (Wren included) a sort of super strength you can activate to execute powerful melee moves, and also bash through doors and other breakable barriers.

From the video, you’ll notice that locomotion is centered around stick-based walking, climbing, dashing (re: no jumping), and traversing the world with your trusty wrist-mounted grappling hook, which can be done by selecting bespoke attach points across the map. While it’s not an open world game, we’re told it will include fast travel so you can revisit bits you may have missed, making doubling back much less of a hassle.

Image courtesy Skydance Games

One of the most crucial bits to all of this is undoubtedly combat, which is where things get interesting. Kittelsen showed off some of the game’s physics-based weapons, which includes three major ‘hero’ weapons: an axe, a single-handed sword, and a two-handed sword. It’s not going to be a waggle-fest either, as weapons have weight to them, requiring you make large slicing arcs to do any appreciable damage.

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Swing too fast, and the tip of your sword will lag, and your slice will be less effective. Essentially, the game appears to be forcing you into more ‘epic’ interactions, which means you’ll need to be precise and pensive in how you deal with each weapon class.

Image courtesy Skydance Games

Since you stick with those three weapons throughout the game, you’re given an opportunity to upgrade them as you go, giving each a bevy of special powers beyond their default ability to be tossed and recalled in mid-air like Thor’s hammer.

The same isn’t true for scavenged weapons, although you can collect them and dispense them from your inventory by simply selecting any one of the four holsters spots (both shoulders, both hip-sides) and ostensibly using that as your scavenged weapons dump. Yup, that includes bows too.

Image courtesy Skydance Games

The gameplay video is rightfully heavy on combat, showing off its physics-based system which is very much about parrying blows, dashing out of the way of unblockable blows, and destroying armor, and aiming for enemy weak points. Enemies telegraph those unblockable moves with a faint red glint on the end of their weapon, which means you better get the hell out of Dodge.

Kittelsen says that, thanks to the super strength ability, you can technically play the game entirely barehanded, although it will be a lot tougher and probably less fun overall. Since the keywords here are diegetic interfaces, you won’t see any floating health bars over enemy heads, so we’re keen to learn more about how enemies display health status outside of missing a limb.

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In contrast to how Saints & Sinners was at its initial launch, you’ll also be able to save at progressive save points during your forward trip through the world, which are represented as totems that require you to place both palms on them to activate—which you’ll typically find before big encounters.

Image courtesy Skydance Games

Kittelsen told us that, had we been able to go hands-on with the final built, it would have taken us around two hours to go from the beginning to the main boss. There’s only so much you can say though without going hands-on ourselves, which we’re hoping to do fairly soon so we can get a better idea of whether the game really does nail melee the way we hope it has.

We’re also looking forward to seeing more of the game’s environmental puzzles, and really bite into the core gameplay loop to see if the promised 12-hour campaign is going to serve up the sort of challenging and satisfying action we loved so much in Saints & Sinners.

– – — – –

Skydance’s Behemoth is slated to launch sometime in Fall 2024 on all major VR headsets, including SteamVR, Quest 2/3 and PSVR 2.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Xron

    Graphical quality a bit lacking, but it would be interesting to fight Behe…

    • TheAK

      …moth

    • NotMikeD

      ….BEHEND YOU! OMG it’s a BEHEMOTH!!

    • Only trolls hide comments

      Graphical quality a bit lacking? What? Compared to what? What I just watched is on par with Alyx & Walking Dead.

  • Cl

    This looks fun. For some reason it got me thinking. How good would a game like this be if you played with hand tracking with haptic and force feedback. Hopefully that's something feasible before I'm too old to enjoy it.

  • TheBaxes

    …So is it going to be Shadow of the Colossus in VR or not? Because it sounds like it's going to be that, at least for the Behemoth boss battles.

    Hope it is, that concept sounds amazing :D

    • Marcos Blando

      totally agree

  • From the video it seems a nice game. Not the most original out there, but still well-made

  • STL

    This looks like fully modded Skyrim VR! Can't wait playing it!

  • Toni Stinson

    This looks amazing. Its a shame it is visually lacked because of Quest 2, but it still seems its going to be the best vr game of the year. Behemoth, Metro, Alien and Batman, such a great end for 2024!

  • Only trolls hide comments

    I'm surprised there aren't more giant killing games. Scale is one thing that is conveyed so much better in VR than flat. Looking forward to this.