‘Resident Evil 4’ for Quest 2 Review – Reanimating a Piece of Gaming History

Resident Evil 4 for Oculus Quest 2 definitely shows its age—it would be impossible not to given its lineage as a groundbreaking survival horror game initially launched on GameCube in 2005. Despite leaning on what have now become well-worn gaming tropes, RE4 for Quest proves to be an expert VR port that still manages to deliver a lot of fun.

Resident Evil 4 Details:

Available On: Oculus Quest 2
Release Date: October 21st, 2021
Price: $40
Developer: Armature Studio
Publisher: Oculus Studios, Capcom
Reviewed On: Quest 2

Gameplay

I remember playing Resident Evil 4 on GameCube back in the mid-2000s and marveling at its cinematic flair, memorable bosses, extensive weapon upgrade system, cutscene quick time events… all of it made for a potent experience that few games have lived up to in my memory since. As RE4 crosses the threshold into VR though, there’s an opportunity to see the game in a new light—pick through the good, the bad, the timeless, and the obsolete to get a fuller picture of what this game is for us today.

If you’ve played before on flatscreen, you may be happy to stop right here when I say that RE4 on Quest 2 is a pretty straight forward VR port that is a very competent translation of the 16 year-old game. It shaves off enough of the hard edges encoded in a shooter of its time (a third-person game at that) whilst giving it just enough graphical fidelity to make it feel like how your mind’s eye remembers it. You’ll like playing it in the first-person in VR. Full stop.

Now for everyone else.

It’s easy to see why RE4 is a good candidate as a VR port. It has tactical shooting that requires accuracy, puzzles that translate pretty well to VR, and a vast world to explore that will take you between 15 – 20 hours to complete. It’s not a perfect VR transplant, since its has a ton of 2D cutscenes presented on a virtual screen and abstracts away some movement stuff that detracts from immersion, but those things would have to be entirely re-imagined to position it closer to VR-native territory. It isn’t, and that’s mostly okay.

Shooting is a giant part of the game, so it’s nice to see that the Quest 2 port has done it justice. Being able to manually reload and shoot each of the game’s iconic weapons (scopes included) at endless hordes of zombified villagers and cultists feels great. You’ll find the overall pace of the VR port much more plodding than the flatscreen version since reloading, healing, and switching weapons isn’t abstracted away with single button presses. More on inventory and holstering in Immersion.

RE4 is pretty slow from a shooter perspective since most enemies don’t run at full clip or jump out from around a corner to attack you. That doesn’t mean you won’t easily get overwhelmed though. If you approach it linearly and pump away wildly, you’ll find that all of those precious bullets you scrounged up are as good as useless. Baddies typically take multiple headshots to kill, so you need to think more tactically by doing things like leading the mindless goons down hallways, tripping them, and attacking when they’re down. It’s rare to get a perfect one-shot kill without a high level weapon like a sniper rifle or maxed-out shotgun, so enemies can be frustratingly hard to dispatch when they start ganging up—especially when its a mixed group of all enemy types, which include standard, armed, explosive, heavy, and mutated baddies.

RE4 offers up a bunch of varied bosses, although killing them is usually just a matter of spraying them with bullets and revealing a specific weakness—patently classic boss battles. Still, even if the formula isn’t terribly clever according to today’s standards, all of them are beautifully grotesque in their own special ways that especially pop in VR. Lord Saddler, the game’s main antagonist, is truly a sight to behold when its his turn to shine. And El Gigante, is well, very gigante.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

While some of the game’s narrative is told through found notes, RE4 relies heavily on 2D cutscenes to serve up the sort of melodrama that you’d expect from an early ’00s thing that is very comfortable in its own skin as a gamey game, i.e. something that isn’t big on realism and relies on well-worn gaming tropes to deliver the action.

These cutscenes are preserved in the original, however quick time events have been altered for Touch controller input. You might need to shake you controllers up and down in a running motion to get away, or side to side to break the grip of an enemy when prompted, just like you might with a button press on the traditional gamepad. The moments when quick time events trigger is almost always unexpected, so it’s a nice jolt to the system to keep you on the edge of your seat.

The physicality of quick time movements works really well here despite being removed from the action physically. There are quick time events based on button presses, but those use trigger input, which is much easier to parse mentally instead of requiring some random assortment of X,Y, A, and B buttons (who can remember where those are anyway?).

Even by today’s standards, Resident Evil 4 is a great game for all of the reasons I mentioned above—and many of the strides to adapt it to VR are successful—although it’s impossible to ignore some of the dialogue clunk and themes that simply wouldn’t make it into a title of its caliber today. Yeah, I’m talking about how Ashley is a stupid damsel in distress whose main function—outside of a few puzzle interludes—is the object of an escort mission that basically takes up half of the game. Both escort missions and shitty female stereotypes suck, and if it were a re-imagining instead of a direct port I’d have a lot more to say about it from a writing and design standpoint.

Immersion

Did I mention RE4 is a gamey game, replete with a dude that just sort of pops up and buys whatever jewels you can find in the corpse of crows, that you blow up with grenades, that you find inside the disappearing body of Spanish villagers for some reason?

Okay, so there’s zero expectation of realism in a narrative sense, which is fine since it’s all loveable RPG legacy stuff, but I was hoping the game’s physicality would be a little more grounded to allow for a more visceral experience in VR.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

If Resident Evil 4 were produced from the ground-up for VR today, the first thing I’d want are physics-based enemies that feel more solid and real. As it is, baddies feel weightless, and slashing at them with your knife feels a bit like shadow boxing and hoping it dies somehow. Enemy types repeat very often, sometimes in a gang of three or four, which takes away from immersion somewhat.

Character animations and game geometry are all the same—both rock solid to be clear—but textures have been uprezzed so as not to be horribly blocky and muddy like you might expect from simply shoeing in VR support directly to the PC version. At first, I thought it looked mostly like I remembered, but when I go back and watch video of the game on GameCube, you have to appreciate the time and effort put into polishing every corner of the game. It’s also amazing to think it comes in just under 8GB considering just how large it truly is.

Image courtesy Capcom, Oculus, Armature Studio

That said, object interaction feels like a bit of a half measure. Levers, doors and puzzles operate as you’d expect, and have been redesigned to be physical objects, however found objects are insubstantial things that fly to your hand and disappear into your inventory. I think the game could do more by letting you climb ladders and remain in your body for some things like kicking down doors, which feels a bit too much of a break in immersion during a hectic fight.

As for inventory, the main inventory is present and accounted for, although you thankfully won’t need to rely on it nearly as much as in the flatscreen version.

Main inventory, Image captured by Road to VR

There are two main modes for accessing weapons and gear, both of which I actually really like.

The default is what I’d call an almost-standard configuration which puts everything you need on your person. Instead of having to reach down to your hip for your pistol though, which can be a pain when in a chair with arms, you’re given a floating weapon slot near your shooting-dominant hand and a similar ammo slot for your non-dominant hand. Simply reach out and grab either ammo or pistol and drop when no longer needed. You’ll need to rely on the main inventory more once you start getting more guns though, since you can only bind two guns to your body; one in front of you and one on your shoulder.

The second is a quick-grab config that lets you cycle through guns via an in-game UI, which lets access all of the stuff in your suitcase at the press of a button without stopping the action. Although less immersive, this is much more useful as you get more guns and need to switch between them on the fly. Gun models don’t have ammo counters, which is placed on your wristwatch along with your health bar and money collected.

Comfort

Thanks to its slower-paced nature, RE4 is really comfortable and features a host of variables to tinker with so you can get it just the way you want. Check out the table below to see just what’s on offer: basically anyone can play it and not have to worry about comfort.

There are a few moments when you need to do platforming, and there are two notable minecart rides, although these are few and far between.

‘Resident Evil 4’ Comfort Settings – October 20th, 2021

Turning

Artificial turning ✔
Smooth-turn ✔
Adjustable speed ✔
Snap-turn ✔
Adjustable increments ✔

Movement

Artificial movement ✔
Smooth-move ✔
Adjustable speed ✖
Teleport-move ✔
Blinders ✔
Adjustable strength ✔
Head-based ✖
Controller-based ✔
Swappable movement hand ✔

Posture

Standing mode ✔
Seated mode ✔
Artificial crouch n/a
Real crouch ✔

Accessibility

Subtitles ✔
Languages English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish (Mexico)
Alternate audio ✖
Languages ✖
Adjustable difficulty ✔
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height n/a

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‘Little Cities’ for Quest Looks Like ‘Cities: Skylines’ in VR, Coming Spring 2022

Little Cities is an upcoming city creation game for Quest that looks to bring much of the same city simulator flair to VR of prolific series such as Cities: Skylines and Sim City.

Little Cities is currently under development by UK-based studio Purple Yonder, and is the first game published by nDreams’ recently announced third-party publishing arm.

In it, Purple Yonder says you’ll be able to build cities in the classic fashion, albeit by hand via Touch controllers; start by building simple roads and carefully zone your islands according to residential, commercial or industrial.

Keep citizens happy by giving them power, water and network connectivity. Making sure there’s adequate fire fighters, police, school, and hospital coverage will keep the population growing.

The game will be playable both seated and in room-scale mode, letting you move around like a veritable Godzilla as you manage your town from above.

Little Cities will be Purple Yonder’s second VR title following the release of Oculus Go zombie shooter Zed Shot (2016). There’s still plenty to learn about Little Cities in the coming months. The studio says it’s slated to arrive on the Quest platform sometime in Spring 2022.

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Sony Reveals Top 5 Most Played PSVR Games Ever

It’s been five years since Sony released PlayStation VR on PS4 consoles, and to commemorate the anniversary its creators have released the top five most-played PSVR games to date.

Unlike its monthly top-download list, Sony has stacked up all of its 500+ games on the store and ranked them according to playtime hours, showing us just where most people have been spending their time on the now five year-old headset.

Here’s the global list, although you’ll also find regional breakdowns below:

Most-Played PSVR Games (Global)

  • Rec Room (2017)
  • Beat Saber (2018)
  • PlayStation VR Worlds (2016)
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (2017)
  • Resident Evil 7 biohazard (2017)

Unsurprisingly at the top of the global list is Rec Room, which launched on PSVR back in late 2017. The social VR platform is free, and includes a host of mini-games which rival some of the bespoke paid content on the store.

The cross-platform game is also constantly evolving thanks to the inclusion of user-generated content, new first-party content like the Mario Kart-style Rec Rally mini-game all of which shares common usership across desktop, PCVR, console (Xbox and PS), and mobile devices running Android and iOS.

Rec Room seems to have done well across Europe and North America, although it didn’t make the list in Japan. Here’s the regional breakdowns.

  • Europe: Rec Room, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim VR, Resident Evil 7 biohazard
  • North America: Rec Room, Beat Saber, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, Job Simulator, Firewall: Zero Hour
  • Japan: Resident Evil 7 biohazard, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, Beat Saber, Gran Turismo Sport

There’s still no word on when the next PlayStation VR headset is coming; Sony has said previously the headset won’t launch until ‘sometime after 2021’. Maybe there’s a barn-burner sale coming this Holiday Season to help wipe out stock before the company makes a commitment to show off the new hardware?

Although just a rumor at this point, the next-gen hardware is reportedly packing some pretty impressive specs like eye-tracking, inside-out positional tracking, and resolutions reported to be 2,000 × 2,040 pixels per-eye. Bear in mind that none of that’s substantiated, so we’ll just have to wait and see when Sony decides the time is right.

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Pimax Promises a Sneak Peek at ‘Next-gen’ VR Product on October 25th

Pimax announced its holding a product event on October 25th that will introduce a next-gen VR headset, something that the company promises will be “several generations ahead of anything currently on the market.”

The event, dubbed Frontier 2021, was originally set to take place on October 20th, however since its general announcement Pimax has moved the event to October 25th, or just three days before Facebook’s yearly Connect VR developer conference.

Pimax says in an email to press that Frontier 2021 will “showcase the Pimax product roadmap, related technologies, the vision of VR3.0, and a sneak peak of code name “Reality”: a new product that’s several generations ahead of anything currently on the market.”

A proper unveiling of ‘Reality’ is said to take place at CES 2022 in January. The name, Pimax says, “should give you an indication of the power of this product.”

You’ll be able to follow along with the announcements in a livestream on YouTube, taking place at 10 AM PT on October 25th (local time here). If the company’s other VR headsets are any indication, ‘Reality’ may be another wide-FOV, high-resolution headset.

Pimax isn’t alone in the Techtober XR product reveals. This month has already seen the unveiling of HTC’s standalone Vive Flow and Magic Leap 2. High-end headset creator Varjo is also holding a product launch event on October 21st.

Notably, Pimax shifted Frontier 2021 to be even closer to Facebook Connect, the latter of which is coming in a single-day event on October 28th. There we may get a peek at the rumored Oculus Quest Pro in addition to hearing more about the company’s recently revealed prototypes, which ought to make for some interesting points of comparison.

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Apparent Leak Unveils HTC Vive Flow, Including Price & Pre-order Date

An apparent leak in HTC’s marketing material has revealed images of the upcoming Vive Flow VR headset ahead of its October 14th unveiling. The headset, which is rumored to target consumers with a casual approach to media consumption, is reportedly priced at $500, and said to begin pre-orders on October 15th.

Serial leaker ‘evleaks’ released a trove of images last night which reveal much about Vive Flow, although not every answer to all of the burning questions. We haven’t substantiated the images below, although they appear to be authentic given how they match up with the progressive teases HTC has done over the past two weeks.

It appears Vive Flow has onboard processing as stipulated in earlier reports, making it fundamentally a standalone headset.

Image courtesy evleaks

Here’s a look inside behind Vive Flow’s mirrored faceplate, which shows two optical sensors, ostensibly used for 6DOF positional tracking. If earlier reports can be believed, this may also include hand-tracking capabilities. No motion controller is seen in marketing info, and it was previously reported by Protocol that hand-tracking would be the headset’s main input method.

Image courtesy evleaks

As a side note, that Protocol report also maintained Flow’s onboard chipset would be less powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 found in Oculus Quest 2 and Vive Focus 3.

While active cooling is present, from the images it’s not clear where onboard power is supposed to fit in the whole package. On the right temple arm of the headset you can see a cable trailing off, which appears to be a USB Type-C port, possibly for external power.

Image courtesy evleaks

A top-down image showing off its snap-on facial interface reveals how thin the display and optics really are, something we’ve stipulated may be thanks to the inclusion of ‘pancake’ lenses like we saw on Pico’s VR glasses prototype at CES 2020. These typically shorten the distance between display and optics at some reduction of field of view.

Image courtesy evleaks

The only look we get directly at the lenses reveals it has built-in diopter settings, so near-sighted people can use the close-fitting headset without glasses. Dual diopter dials appear to show up to a -6.0 diopter focusing power.

Image courtesy evleaks

It’s still not clear what HTC is hiding with the cable. The marketing material shows phones that notably aren’t tethered to the headset physically, and are instead connected via Bluetooth.

Image courtesy evleaks

Some of the mystery of input seems to be revealed in the image below, which maintains that a user’s phone can be used as a VR controller. This would likely be 3DOF input only.

Image courtesy evleaks

In fact, a large set of lifestyle photos position Vive Flow as a consumer headset that’s focusing on casual media consumption, and possibly productivity as well.

With the tagline “Designed to fit into your life,” Vive Flow is definitely playing to its compact form-factor, positioning it as a good on-the-go solution for media consumption.

Image courtesy evleaks

The thermos-style carrying case is said to come as a free gift when pre-ordered, which is said to start on October 15th, with shipments said to come in early November. The MSRP of $499 USD is also said to get you seven free VR apps and two months of a service called ‘Infinity Vista’, which sounds like it may be a tuned-down version of Viveport Infinity for the standalone device.

– – — – –

There’s still plenty to learn about Vive Flow. We’ll be watching on October 14th for HTC’s Vive Flow event to see what gaps they can fill in. We’re still waiting to hear about specs and what other capabilities it may have, which may better justify its $500 price tag to consumers.

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NVIDIA CloudXR Now Publicly Available on Google Cloud

CloudXR, NVIDIA’s real-time XR cloud streaming technology, is now publicly available through the Google Cloud Marketplace with Nvidia RTX Virtual Workstations as a Virtual
Machine Image (VMI).

Like flatscreen cloud gaming, XR streaming promises is to remove the high barrier of entry by rendering resource-intensive visuals on virtual machines in the cloud and serving them up to typically less powerful host devices like PCs, smartphones, or standalone VR headsets.

More specifically, Nvidia’s CloudXR tech lets users run high-end VR graphics in any OpenVR application, which now also extends to developers and vendors using the world’s third-largest cloud service, Google Cloud, something the company says can be done on instances that support Nvidia T4 Tensor Core GPUs.

Nvidia previously made CloudXR available on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure earlier following the release of its early access SDK in 2019, where the company outlined hopes of kickstarting CloudXR streaming amidst a mounting 5G-centric future.

Whether that 5G future is right around the corner, or years away from fulfilling its many promises for both AR and VR, Nvidia’s CloudXR has decidedly become the most mature and scalable solution of the lot, especially now that it’s available across the top three cloud service providers.

Where that scalability leads us in the near-term isn’t certain. The promise of never having to panic buy the latest GPU out from under cryptominers just to play the latest in PC VR gaming is certainly a tantalizing prospect we’re hoping to see fulfilled someday, as standalone headsets and the promise of minimal setup have quickly become a focus in attracting an untapped vein of new consumers.

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Report: Vive Flow is a Consumer VR Standalone with Heavy Emphasis on Hand-tracking

HTC is serial-teasing its next VR headset again, this time hyping the reveal of Vive Flow, which is reportedly a slim and light 6DOF standalone focused on media consumption, casual gaming, and VR experiences.

New information reported by Protocol ahead of its October 14th reveal holds that HTC will be likely targeting consumers with the new lightweight Vive Flow headset, something that is said to contain a chipset less powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 found in Quest 2 and Vive Focus 3.

Reportedly developed under the code name “Hue,” Protocol maintains it will also ship without motion controllers, instead relying primarily on its built-in hand-tracking to control apps and casual VR games.

HTC also released and new hype video on its Instagram, showing a quick flash of Flow’s hardware.

There’s not much to tell from the eight-second video, however it appears the headset’s temples can articulate, which suggests they may fold to some degree. We’ve seen similar hinges and on the Vive Proton prototype standalone first revealed in February 2020, although we’ve never seen it in action.

A thermos-like container previously seen in other marketing images would suggest Vive Flow can be stored in the carrying case though, which may mean it can cinch down into a fairly compact form-factor.

Image courtesy HTC

Light and casual VR media consumption used to be Facebook’s modus operandi with 3DOF headsets Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Go, but has since shifted focus to building out its gaming-focused Quest platform in the recent years. This may have left a niche HTC is looking to exploit with Vive Flow.

Should all of the above prove true when it’s revealed on October 14th, the entrance of Vive Flow could signal HTC’s return to consumer VR—provided it has a suitably consumer-friendly price to match, which hasn’t been the company’s strong suit.

The company has since shied away from directly targeting consumers outside of Asia like Facebook has done with its $300 standalone Quest 2, instead focusing on enterprise and prosumer segments with its latest VR hardware, such as the $1,300 standalone Vive Focus 3 and its $800 Vive Pro 2 PC VR headset.

HTC may also be banking on integration with a rumored social VR service called ‘Viveport Verse’, which sounds like the company’s own stab at building out its own metaverse platform. Companies such as Epic Games, Facebook, and Immersive VR Education’s platform ENGAGE have each already invested cash in the millions to ostensibly build out their own platforms with interconnected services.

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Magic Leap Teases Its Next-gen AR Headset for Enterprise

Magic Leap hasn’t come out with new hardware since it launched its seminal AR headset in 2018, Magic Leap 1. Now it seems we’re getting our first glimpse of what may very well be Magic Leap 2.

Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson released a photo of the device via LinkedIn. She says in the post that more will be revealed during CNBC’s Power Lunch at 2PM ET today. We’ll be following along, so make sure to check back then for more details as they arrive.

In the LinkedIn post, Johnson says she’ll speak a bit about her experiences as CEO at Magic Leap and “share a glimpse of what lies ahead for AR and our organization.”

Image courtesy Magic Leap

From what little we can see, it seems the new Magic Leap hardware is looking to replicate a more glasses-like form-factor. It’s not for certain whether this is indeed Magic Leap 2, however in February Johnson said its second-gen headset would be “50% smaller, 20% lighter, with 100% larger field of view.”

The company has stayed tightlipped on Magic Leap 2 thus far, however Johnson previously mentioned that early access availability of its next-gen device is slated for Q4 of 2021, so this may be our first look at what’s to come. General availability is said to arrive in Q1 of 2022.

A previous veteran of Qualcomm and Microsoft, Johnson took over the reigns from company founder Rony Abovitz in 2020 to help pivot Magic Leap away from its roots as a company appealing to prosumers and businesses, and focusing entirely on the enterprise segment.

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Unofficial Quest App Store ‘SideQuest’ Raises $3M Seed Investment

SideQuest, the popular sideloading platform for Oculus Quest, has raised a fresh $3 million seed round, something its creators say will be used to help developers publish their apps across multiple platforms via OpenXR integration. The news was first reported in an UploadVR exclusive.

Founded by Belfast-based team Shane and Orla Harris in 2019, SideQuest has over the years become the leading sideloading platform for Oculus Quest and Quest 2 standalone headsets, and also its de facto unofficial app store. Much like gaming consoles, Quest’s official app store is directly moderated by the platform holder, which in this case is Facebook.

SideQuest now boasts over one million monthly active users, who use the platform to sideload apps which haven’t been (or won’t be) approved for the official Oculus Store or Quest’s less-moderated App Lab distribution channel.

The $3 million seed funding round was led by London-based VC firm PROfounders, and includes participation by Ada Ventures, Connect Ventures, Ascension, and SCNE.

The team’s first big raise came in early 2020 from Boost VC and Oculus VR founder Palmer Lucky, amounting to $650,000. According to The Irish Times, the most recent round puts the company’s current valuation is now around $10 million.

“This raise gives us the runway needed to focus on driving more engagement in our communities, more support for developers and more innovation in VR. We are excited to be able to provide discovery and community for the next generation of content creators,” Shane Harris told UploadVR. “We are excited to focus our energies on building tools and services to help developers target multiple platforms with OpenXR whilst leveraging the SideQuest community to grow their audience.”

“We are really excited about this next phase of growth. We want to continue to drive engagement within the VR community,” Ora Harris told The Irish Times. “It has always been our goal to help developers and the bonus is that the really enthusiastic VR community of streamers, reviewers and players makes that job so much fun for us.”

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Physics-based Combat Sim ‘Swordsman’ Coming to Oculus Quest Next Year

Swordsman (2020), the physics-based combat sim for PSVR and PC VR headsets, is bringing its bloody sandbox battles to Oculus Quest at some point next year.

Developers Sinn Studio announced in a recent tweet that Swordsman is slated to arrive on Oculus App Lab in early 2022.

The team says they’re were in discussions with Facebook about an official Quest Store release, however they’ve since been advised to release via App Lab “to gauge the Quest interest in Swordsman.”

“We want our Quest community to know that we worked extremely hard to ensure a direct Quest store release; however, we’re equally as excited to share Swordsman with all of you on App Lab,” Sinn Studio says.

Sinn Studio says the Quest version is said to be approximately similar quality to the PSVR version. In September, Swordsman was ranked the number three most-downloaded game on PSVR in the US, and fourth in Europe.

Although it got a rocky start on Steam when it initially launched there in September 2020, giving it a ‘Mixed’ user ranking, it’s since been upgraded to a ‘Mostly Positive’ by users as of late.

If the game’s roadmap is any indication, when it launches on Quest we’ll also be looking forward to a host of improvements and new features too. Right now it appears the team is working on a new map, weapons, skins, and “improved blood & gore.”

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