Vive Focus 3’s Latest Update Improves Hand Tracking Feature

HTC Vive Focus 3

HTC Vive launched its latest all-in-one (AIO) virtual reality (VR) headset, the Vive Focus 3, back in June, and since then has been introducing new features whilst improving others. The latest update enhances the hand tracking capabilities of the device, making it more accurate and stable in the process.

Vive Focus 3 hand tracking

Vive Focus 3 comes with its own controllers as standard with the hand tracking only introduced after the official launch. In this week’s free firmware update (v3.0.999.284), users should find that hand tracking now feels more natural, keeping up with quick movements while actions like pinching are more accurate when interacting with virtual objects.

HTC Vive’s hand tracking engine uses a 26-point skeletal hand modelling system to track all your individual finger movements, now used right from the room setup process thanks to the update. You can simply pop the controllers down and the Vive Focus 3 will automatically detect your hands.

Developers working on Vive Focus 3 compatible projects are able to integrate six predefined hand gestures for easy accessibility, ideal considering the headset is aimed towards the enterprise end of the market. This sector tends to lean towards training and development uses cases as well as design, all of which can benefit from hand tracking.

HTC Vive Focus 3

Retailing for £1,272 GBP, the Vive Focus 3 is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform – like so many AIO headsets – sporting dual 2.5K displays (2448 x 2448 pixels per eye), a 90Hz refresh rate, a 120-degree field of view (FoV), adjustable IPD range from 57mm to 72mm and a rear-mounted battery for even weight distribution.

It’s been quite the hardware year for HTC Vive. Alongside the Vive Focus 3, there’s the new Vive Pro 2 for PC VR gaming and then there the Vive Flow. A slightly different tangent to Vive’s other offerings, the Flow is a smartphone connectable device that’s lightweight and for media consumption, with a strong focus on mental health.

As HTC Vive continues to improve its hardware lineup, VRFocus will keep you updated.

Black Friday 2021: All the VR Deals

Oculus Quest 2

It’s now officially time for the annual discount spectacular that is Black Friday, where there are savings galore – some more dubious than others – for the next couple of days. VRFocus has been hard at it hunting down all the latest virtual reality (VR) deals currently available, from hardware packages to ridiculous savings on videogames and software.

Oculus Quest - Black Friday

There aren’t as many savings on hardware this year, most notably when it comes to PlayStation VR. Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) used to roll out a new mega pack this time of year, unsurprising, considering the headset is coming towards the end of its life with fans eager to see what the next iteration will be. As for the popular Oculus (Meta) Quest 2, the hardware hasn’t been discounted but at least new owners can start their library off nicely with some credit.

Oculus (Meta) Quest 2

PlayStation VR

  • There are currently no Black Friday deals on PlayStation VR hardware,
Vive Cosmos

PC VR

Games

  • PlayStation VR
    • (PS Direct) Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood – $7.50
    • (PS Direct) VR Worlds – $7.50
    • (PS Direct) Astro Bot Rescue Mission – $10.00
    • (PS Direct) Concrete Genie – $19.99
    • (PS Direct) Everybody’s Golf – $9.99
    • (PS Direct) Marvel’s Iron Man VR – $9.99
    • (PS Direct) Blood & Truth – $9.99
    • Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – £13.99/$8.49
    • Hitman 3 – Standard/Deluxe Pack- £21.99/£14.49 – $23.99/$17.49
    • Rez Infinite – £7.49/$8.99
    • Sniper Elite VR – £14.99/$17.99
    • Tetris Effect: Connected – £13.99/$15.99
    • No Man’s Sky – £19.99/$29.99
    • Star Wars: Squadrons – £12.94/$14.79
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR – £15.83/$19.79
  • Steam
    • Not so much a Black Friday sale, more Steam’s Autumn Sale, nevertheless, still plenty of discounts to be had.
    • Half-Life: Alyx – £23.24
    • Boneworks – £19.03
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR – £13.19
    • Pavlov VR – £11.69
    • Into the Radius – £16.65
    • The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – £17.04
    • Superhot VR – £11.99
    • Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond – £27.99
    • Fallout 4 VR – £11.99
    • The Forest – £6.19

Accessories

And that’s your lot, probably. There might be a couple VRFocus has missed but all of those should keep you going for a while. Remember, most of these will be available today and through the weekend depending on the store. Have fun out there with the sales!

Review: Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

Games Workshop’s Warhammer franchise has rooted itself in every entertainment medium and virtual reality (VR) gaming is no different. It’s a universe that fits well in VR, where you become a god-like warrior defeating hordes of horrifying enemies. While Warhammer 40,000: Battle Sister took you to the more modern equivalent of Games Workshop’s war-filled universe, Carbon Studio’s Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall takes place in an era without all that technology, where knights fought ghastly ghouls to ensure the protection of mankind. Which all sounds awesome doesn’t it? Yet the final delivery just doesn’t quite live up to the potential.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

Ever since Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall was revealed in October 2020, each drop of information bathed the experience in deep, rich lore that you just couldn’t wait to be part of. All of that lore is there if you wish to delve into the menu and extract it, which is why it’s such a shame that all the surface level stuff – i.e. the main storyline itself – lacks delivery and a real sense that you’re embodying this epic Stormcast Eternal warrior come to vanquish the plague of Nighthaunt forces.

So some context. As the name implies the videogame is set within Warhammer’s Age of Sigma universe, where a devastating Necroquake wakes up all these horrible forces who go on to attack the mortal realms. As Lord-Arcanum Castor Stormscryer, an all-round badass and leader of the Stormcast Eternals you have to cleanse the world using your superhuman skills, some rather brutal melee weapons and a suitable amount of magical abilities.

Starting in a city ravaged by Nighthaunt forces, Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall is mostly a linear adventure that takes around 7-8 hours if you don’t get lost or delve into all the side missions. Lost you may be wondering? Carbon Studios has created an intricate city where the narrative will simply move you forward as intended but with a bit of exploration, you’ll find plenty of hidden secrets including Sigmarite and ancient scrolls (vital for upgrades) and doors unlock that provide handy shortcuts later on. Alas, these are useful but other gameplay elements hamper that usefulness, more on that later.  

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall is in no way subtle about its gameplay style, you’re a massive warrior who smashes through everything to get the job done. In your inventory are three weapons ranging from the really close combat sword to the long staff. These can be dual-wielded so you can mix and match depending on your preferred strategy and the magical abilities of each weapon. They all have three castable spells, performed by holding the trigger and either lunging forward, swiping horizontally, or lifting the weapon skyward He-Man style. Fairly simple yet they’re all effective in different circumstances and are suitably fun to unleash.

However, even though combat is the core of Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall, it also becomes one of the titles weakest facets. To begin with, smashing Deathrattle Skeletons apart – you can just rip them apart with your hands – or unleashing magical bolts of lightning at Nighthaunts is a blast until it becomes clear that the collision detection isn’t that great. There were numerous times when slashing at an enemy produced no result, and the same goes for the magic casting. It was erratic enough that it took a lot of the joy out of battles, especially when surrounded.  

And you’ll get surrounded a fair bit as the enemy AI is set on grunt default of charging straight at you. You’d kind of expect it from the skeletons but you’d hope for a bit more from the Nighthaunt that float menacingly around. Fights then become a real close quarter hack ‘n’ slash affair instead of intense sword fights. Elements such as being able to block and parry are there, alas they fail to properly solidify the battles as they’re not easy to read when toe to toe with multiple enemies. And when waving both weapons around does just as good a job why bother?

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

On the subject of opponents, there’s also a lack of variety, Deathrattle Skeletons and Nighthaunt come in several flavours but you have to wait until the latter half of the campaign that some new enemies actually appear, at which point you’ll miss the ghostly foes. Running the Steam version of Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall at full resolution the enemies are incredibly well designed and intricately detailed, they do look the part, but after continually fighting so many the repetition quickly sinks in.

That’s made all the worse by the spawning layout. Basic enemies like the skeletons appear in packs during the city level, making for nice natural fights as you turn a corner and suddenly spot a group. It’s when you come across a wide-open area that you know Nighthaunts will appear and quite often you’ll be locked in an arena battle, over and over again. You’ll feel that inevitable sigh building as you walk into another grand area to fight the same enemies. Remember that mention of opening up handy shortcuts, they’re all well and good but the spawns happen in the same spots so wandering back over an area looking for secrets will trigger them again.

It must be said Carbon Studio has done well with the level layouts, they twist and wrap around one another to simulate multiple paths and there are plenty of sneaky hidden areas to find. This is vital if you want to upgrade that equipment of yours. Weapons can have their base stats improved followed by each magical spell, so there’s plenty of reason to hunt down elusive chests. As you might have guessed by now there is a but, a big but. There’s no easy way to access your main base to incrementally add these upgrades unless you want to keep walking through the city fighting the same opponents again and again. There really needed to be more anvil placements or a quick return feature.   

Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Tempestfall

If that wasn’t enough Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall has some annoying mechanics that hampered the general gameplay. It was little things like picking up a Spirit Flask or using the Gravesand Hourglass. Weapons instantly appear in hand when pressing grip so you can get right into a fight, that’s perfectly fine. Pick up an empty Spirit Flask – used as a grenade when full – and it automatically equips, the Hourglass is two-handed but with the same effect. Thus, every time either of these items are used you have to reequip your weapons again. After several hours of this, you’ll understand the annoyance.  

Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall offered the prospect for the sort of adventure Games Workshop’s brutal universe is renowned for, and the history and narrative is certainly there. Yet there’s no connection to or development of the main character, the action is mostly forgettable and there are just too many little glitches and inconsistencies to create a world Warhammer fans can really immerse themselves in. Warhammer Age of Sigma: Tempestfall isn’t a bad VR game, there were enjoyable moments and with a bit of refinement it could be a decent game; at the moment being a Stormcast Eternal just isn’t a blockbuster experience.

HTC Vive Black Friday Deals Include £250 off Vive Cosmos Elite Kit

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite

As is now becoming commonplace, Black Friday isn’t a single day of amazing deals, expanding to a whole weekend and now several weeks. Today, HTC Vive has announced its latest raft of deals, where customers could save up to £250 GBP on the latest virtual reality (VR) hardware.

VIVE Pro Eye

A the top of the pile for discounts is the Vive Cosmos Elite Full Kit with HTC Vive knocking a whopping £250 off the entire kit. Normally £899, the deal drops the cost down to £649.00, a great all-in-one bundle for those with a VR-capable PC. The kit comes with SteamVR 1.0 base stations and the latest Vive controllers. Specification wise it offers a combined resolution of 2880×1770 (1440×1700 per eye) using an LCD display, 110-degree field of view (FoV), a hinged front to easily drop in and out of VR, built-in headphones and IPD adjustment.

If you’ve already got a SteamVR setup and want to upgrade then the Vive Cosmos Elite headset has £150 off, dropping the price to £399. Or in the same range, the original Vive Cosmos with its inside-out tracking is available with a £200 saving, costing a competitive £499.

HTC Vive isn’t stopping there. Going into its pro range the Vive Pro Full Kit is on sale for £919.00, saving customers £200 on the regular retail price. If you really want to step up further there’s always the Vive Pro Eye with its in-built eye tracking. That’s currently £1,099.00, a reduction of £200.

Vive Cosmos

It’s not just VR headsets HTC Vive is discounting, the Wireless Adaptor Full Pack and Vive Deluxe Audio Strap prices have also been slashed. The Wireless Adaptor is now £209.00 rather than £359.00, whilst the Audio Strap comes in at £79.99, a saving of £30. All these offers are available via the UK website from today until 29th November 2021.

Expect more VR Black Friday deals in the coming deals in the coming days. As they’re announced, VRFocus will keep you updated.

After the Fall Pre-orders go Live as PvP & Early Access Revealed

After the Fall

Vertigo Games’ next big title After the Fall is only three weeks away from launch and today the studio has released further gameplay details as well as opening up pre-orders. Alongside a new trailer, it’s been confirmed that After the Fall will feature a PvP mode and that early access will be granted on select platforms.

After the Fall

From today, Oculus Quest 2, PlayStation VR and SteamVR owners can pre-order After the Fall with a 10% discount, dropping the cost down to £26.99 GBP. That’s for the “Launch Edition” which includes automatic access to the future Frontrunner season, including new a map called “Hollywood Boulevard”, the “Warehouse” PvP arena an unrevealed game mode and a new weapon type.

Depending on the platform early purchasers will gain different benefits. Oculus Quest 2 owners will receive access to the exclusive Fwd to the Past skin whilst Steam players gain access to a closed Steam Playtest. Pre-ordering After the Fall for PlayStation VR and Steam will also net players 48 hours of Early Access as an additional bonus. Plus, on the Oculus platform, there’s cross-buy support between Quest and Oculus Rift.

When it comes to the Steam Playtest players will be introduced to the first Harvest Run mission, taking place between 9 pm PT on 25th November until midnight PT on 27th November 2021.

After the Fall - Early Access_edition

That’s not all, Vertigo Games has a Deluxe Edition for Steam and PlayStation VR which features:

  • Automatic access to the Frontrunner season
  • Digital Artbook
  • Official Soundtrack
  • PS4 Theme and Avatars (PlayStation VR)
  • Exclusive Uncle Bob skin (Steam) or exclusive Ultimate Buster skin (PlayStation VR)

After the Fall is set for release on 9th December 2021 for the aforementioned headsets with an Oculus Quest version slated for 2022. It’ll feature a co-op campaign mode, the co-op Harvest mode and an eight-player (4vs4) competitive multiplayer. VRFocus went hands-on with the Harvest mode earlier this month, finding plenty of potential in this co-op horde mode.

As further details on After the Fall are released, VRFocus will keep you updated.

Vive Focus 3 is Getting WiFi 6E Support & More Improvements for VR Arcades

HTC launched Vive Focus 3 back in late June, a high-end VR standalone with a price tag to match its ambitions as a device meant for businesses. The company recently announced updates to the software experience that will bring a host of improvements, such as support for the new WiFi 6E standard, larger tracking areas, a shared map for easier playspace calibration, and more.

The company announced the full gamut of info in a blogpost. As it is, here’s a quick rundown of the major updates HTC is bringing to Vive Focus 3:

Better PC VR Streaming with WiFi 6E

WiFi 6E is a new standard that operates at the 6 GHz frequency range, and offers a low latency and high bandwidth wireless connection for streaming PC VR content to the standalone headset.

Occupying a different frequency also helps mitigate background WiFi interference. As HTC’s Shen Ye points out, going from WiFi 6 (5GHz) to WiFi 6E allows for a total of 59 separate 20MHz channels, or 7 separate 160 MHz channels. Certification is coming soon, although availability may vary based on your geographic location.

Location-based Entertainment Mode

Location-based Entertainment (LBE) Mode was developed to enlarge the Vive Focus 3’s standard tracking area to make it easier for businesses to make the best of large spaces.

Vive Focus 3 supports a 15m × 15m space out of the box (50ft × 50ft), but LBE mode bumps that up to 33m × 30m (100ft × 108ft). That’s roughly the size of four tennis courts, which opens up more flexibility for VR arcades implementing larger format free-roaming games.

Map Sharing

The new Map Sharing feature lets multiple users share inside-out maps of a given space so you don’t need to setup or calibrate multiple headsets.

This also includes the ability to duplicate a few things specifically from one to all headsets in a group: single boundary/direction/center of map/floor height.

Visual Odometry Mode

Visual Odometry (VO) Mode is a handy shortcut so you can skip the 5-minute tracking set-up, letting users jump straight into the experience without having to draw the tracking volume. It does this by automatically setting the Direction of View and Center of Coordination once a user puts on the headset.

Ye mentions that VO mode is great for experiences where large-scale tracking isn’t really relevant, like single-player arcade games with a static playspace, athletic training, and more simple content viewing.

Conveniently, HTC has made a Hybrid Mode that incorporates both VO and LBE Mode. Start in VO mode for fitting adjustments, and then head into LBE mode to transition to the large-scale experience.

– – — – –

Check out HTC Vive Focus 3 specs below. You can learn more about HTC’s latest standalone here.

Vive Focus 3 Specs
Resolution 2,448 x 2,448 (6.0MP) per-eye, LCD (2x)
Refresh Rate 90Hz
Lenses Dual-element Fresnel
Field-of-view 120° horizontal
Optical Adjustments IPD
IPD Adjustment Range 57–72mm
Processor Snapdragon XR2
RAM 8GB
Storage 128GB (expandable via MicroSD to 2TB)
Connectors USB-C (2x)
Battery Life 2 hours
Tracking Quad on-board camera (no external beacons)
Controllers Vive Focus 3 controllers, rechargeable battery
Audio In-headstrap speakers, 3.5mm aux output
Microphone Dual microphone
Pass-through Cameras Yes

The post Vive Focus 3 is Getting WiFi 6E Support & More Improvements for VR Arcades appeared first on Road to VR.

XR Art Platform STYLY Expands Support to Vive Flow

STYLY x Vive Flow

HTC’s introduction of Vive Flow in October certainly raised a few eyebrows when it came to where the company was positioning the headset, heading down the line of a wellness device rather than focusing on gaming or enterprise. Even so, developers have seen the potential in the light, phone connected virtual reality (VR) headset, with Psychic VR Lab’s creative platform STYLY adding support.

STYLY image

The news isn’t too surprising considering STYLY rolled out support for HTC Vive’s Viveport platform in September, allowing users to access a huge selection of immersive content built by artists worldwide. STYLY was built around the idea of using XR as an artistic medium, with works ranging from personal museum pieces to pop music experiences and anime comic creations.

While the free STYLY app enables access to these works, STYLY itself is a cloud-based platform where artists can bring their ideas to life using a web browser and then distribute the content via VR headsets, augmented reality (AR) devices and simply via the web. The app is supplied with STYLY Studio, the creative arm of the platform that doesn’t require any programming knowledge to operate.

Launched back in 2017 initially for PC VR headsets, STYLY also encourages creators to try the platform by hosting an annual event called the NEWVIEW Awards. This year’s event will be even bigger with more award categories and a huge $20,000 USD up for grabs for the lucky Gold Award winner.

Styly

The HTC Vive Flow is more like a chunky pair of sunglasses rather a bulbous VR headset. Weighing in at only 189g, the device sports a 100-degree field of view (FoV), 3.2K resolution (2x 2.1” LCD 1600 x1600 per eye) and a 75 Hz refresh rate. It connects to your phone either by cable or via Bluetooth – you’ll need the external battery to run it wirelessly – with your phone acting as a 3DoF controller. Vive Flow is now available to purchase for £499 GBP/$499 USD.

The addition of Vive Flow support continues a run of adding compatibility to both VR and AR devices, recent additions include Oculus Quest and Nreal Light. This has all been aided by an $8.5 million USD funding round earlier in the year, allowing the Japanese company to expand its global reach.

For continued updates on STYLY and the latest VR news from Japan, keep reading VRFocus.

Winds & Leaves Gently Breezes Onto PCVR in December

Winds & Leaves

During the summer, Prison Boss VR developer Trebuchet launched mystical gardening adventure Winds & Leaves for PlayStation VR. Today, the studio has announced that a PC VR version is on the way with a bunch of visual and gameplay enhancements.

Winds & Leaves

Bringing Winds & Leaves to SteamVR has meant that Trebuchet has increased the graphical fidelity, expanded the draw distance so you can appreciate the beautiful scenery whilst improving the tree and vegetation density so those forests look even more luscious. Additionally, a new roomscale mode has been included alongside a 360-degree rotation setting. Employing roomscale freedom should make planting all those seeds even easier.

“We are thrilled to bring Winds & Leaves to Steam VR players, taking advantage of the PC power to make the experience even more captivating with the farther draw distance and higher vegetation density that we can now render,” said Alexandre Pernot Lopes, Trebuchet Creative Director and co-founder in a statement.

Winds & Leaves drops you into a barren world almost entirely devoid of life. You take on the role of The Gardener, a being who has a unique connection to the trees and plants, even being able to see their interconnecting lifeforce. With a few tools in hand, you need to explore the various biomes and plant trees most suited to the environment, combining seeds to make new varieties ideal for each new habitat. The eventual goal is to entirely restore life to the planet.

Winds & Leaves

To ensure a comfortable walking experience Trebuchet puts you on stilts, rather unique for a VR videogame. That means you have to move the controllers just like walking with a couple of sticks, making for steady, gentle progression.

Reviewing Winds & Leaves for PlayStation VR, VRFocus found that: “Winds & Leaves has some nice ideas and for those looking for a nice tranquil VR experience with some light puzzles, it perfectly suits. The problem is Winds & Leaves can be a bit too quiet. Lush green grass and colour forests are all well and good but they’re still devoid of life, no animals suddenly return.”

Winds & Leaves is set to arrive via Steam on 8th December 2021, supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For further updates from Trebuchet, keep reading VRFocus.

Dive Into Gritty Rhythm Combat Title AGAINST This Winter

Against

Virtual reality (VR) developer Joy Way caught a lot of VR fans attention earlier this year when it introduced the first teasing footage of AGAINST, a very dark and moody rhythm action experience. While the team noted in a feature piece for VRFocus that the design wasn’t final they’ve now revealed the first full gameplay trailer as well as confirming that AGAINST will be out this year for PC VR headsets.

Against

In comparison to the original aesthetics, AGAINST’s new look has certainly been brightened up and made a little more colourful. It might not be as instantly striking but the new visuals look a lot cleaner and detailed, retaining some of that gritty mood players were hoping for.

The changes are purely visual either. Previously, that dark, film noir approach was inspired by a narrative that involved you battling the mafia in 1930’s New York City. The timeline remains but the enemy has changed in favour of a far more comic book-style approach where you play a detective fighting their way through hordes of enemies working for an evil scientist called Dr. Vice. These can range from ordinary henchmen to more fantastical creatures.

Like any rhythm-action videogame, it’s all about dispatching these opponents to the beat to maximise your score. Unlike others in this genre, you’re given a range of weapons to do this with, whether that’s your bare hands, sword, guns, knuckle dusters and more. In a similar vein to Pistol Whip’s campaign mode, AGAINST will also feature end-level bosses to fight.

Against

Currently, Joy Way has revealed AGAINST will feature seven action-packed levels that can be tackled in three difficulties. Supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index headsets, AGAINST is set to arrive via Steam Early Access at some point this winter. Previously, Joy Way had released a demo of AGAINST but that has now been removed. “Since the release of the demo on Steam, the game has undergone significant improvements during development. Although the core gameplay remained unchanged, we removed the demo, because it no longer represents the final product,” Joy Way said in a statement.

AGAINST isn’t the only VR title Joy Way has in the works. Also in Early Access is parkour experience Stride whilst roguelite shooter Outlier is expected to arrive in 2022. For continued updates, keep reading VRFocus.

Preview: After the Fall – Frosty Social Mayhem

After the Fall

With all that’s happened over the last couple of years, 2019 seems like an age ago. It was that year when VRFocus got its first hands-on glimpse of Vertigo Games’ Arizona Sunshine follow up After the Fall, an action-packed shooter set in the frozen wasteland of Los Angeles. After a few delays, the studio is almost ready to launch the zombie-themed FPS across multiple headsets and VRFocus got another peek at the title and game mode called Harvest.

After the Fall

In actual fact, the demo contained three distinct sections of After the Fall, and as expected offering a different flavour to the proceedings since last we met. Available were the Outlands, and introductory level given players the main gist of the controls, a hub section called The Line where players can meet up and chat before heading out on co-op missions together, which leads us to the Harvest.

If you’ve played Arizona Sunshine you’ll likely have dabbled in the frantic horde mode, a later addition where you have to survive waves of enemies. Harvest is After the Fall’s horde mode of sorts but instead of running around a singular map, players have to work their way through a level, stopping off at occasional safe houses, with the main goal being to collect as much Harvest as possible from dead enemies.

This you can then use in Harvest-o-Matic’s found in safe rooms to purchase useful equipment such as health, pipe bombs and ammunition. It’s a setup most Left 4 Dead or Back 4 Blood players will be familiar with. You all have to work together because inventory space is very limited, choosing between a health pack or a tasty explosive could mean life or death on those frozen streets.

After the Fall

Before getting there The Line is worth an exploration. It’s like a massive arcade with loads of cabinets in the middle, where you can team up with three other friends before going on a Harvest (AI bots are available to make teams up to 4), head to the shooting range or talk to Luna who runs the place. *Spoiler* As an awesome nod to Vertigo Games’ previous title there are Arizona Sunshine cabinets offering a very basic twin-stick shooter for a quick time killer.

Vertigo Games has been sure to include plenty of accessibility options that are always worth a peruse before heading into the action, as you can play seated or standing, teleport or use smooth locomotion and change how reloading works. It’s the latter that VRFocus instantly had issues with which was a worry so close to launch.

Ammo is located right on your chest, with the belt height adjustable to suit each player’s requirements. You then have the choice of Quick or Advanced reloading, the former consisting of merely bringing the gun to your chest whilst the latter is a more traditional manual VR mechanic, ejecting the magazine, grabbing a clip and cocking the gun. However, when it came to fighting that first ravenous horde of Snowbreed it was an absolute fumble fest. The Quick reloading was intermittent at best, constantly jabbing the gun at the ammo belt until something happened. Advanced reloading, on the other hand, was smooth as butter, feeling natural popping clips out and jamming another in. Additionally, there’s a Harvest multiplier if you choose the Advanced option.    

After the Fall

After the Fall also employs and omits several other familiar VR shooter mechanics. Taking a leaf out of Half-Life: Alyx’s book are the wrist pockets, these are your only inventory slots for things like health and explosives. This becomes even more of a juggle once you start locating Floppy Disks, these unlock new equipment by taking them to the Harvest-o-Matic and then completing the run. You can hold up to four weapons if you so wish, one on each hip and one in each hand for that proper gun-toting Rambo look. But you can’t put anything over your shoulder, even the bigger two-handed weapons go on your hip which seems a bit strange. There wasn’t a chance to test how two rifles on each hip and one hand-held would look although we’d imagine the visual clutter might be a bit much. Also, there wasn’t a chance to test the weapon upgrade system which was a shame, that’ll just have to wait for the full review.

Even with those grumbles, the gameplay was exactly as hoped, fast and at times unrelenting, with Snowbreed clambering through walls, across ceilings or just plain smashing through stuff like a bulldozer. It was arcade action at its best, ziplining across buildings, gunning down corridors or monsters then in those moments where you could take a breather exploring rooms to find useful loot and collectables. Aside from the base slow and fast Snowbreed there were four more specialised foes that would pop up occasionally, Juggernaut, Eater, Brute and Smasher. They’re all tanks in their own right with the Juggernaut able to pick you up, the Eater explodes, the Brute is a super speedy fella whilst the Smasher was the final huge opponent to overcome. Certainly impressive and tough in the first run, how well they work across multiple Harvest remains to be seen.

After the Fall is gearing up to be one of VR’s biggest winter 2021 launches thanks to the wall-to-wall combat. There’s also the impressive feat of co-op, cross-platform gameplay between all supported headsets, which should ensure player numbers for full Harvest runs. Considering how some VR videogames have struggled with this feature, having it available from day one could mean all the difference. After the Fall is coming to Oculus Quest 2, PlayStation VR and PC VR headsets on 9th December, so there’s not long to wait to see if it’s been worth those delays.