Preview: Now There be Goblins – You Have my Hammer

Nobody likes goblins. They’re always getting into places, causing trouble, generally being a nuisance. I’ll tell you who really hates goblins; the king. As a blacksmith grafting for coin, apparently I’m on speaking terms with this smug-looking monarch. He commissioned me to craft a massive gold statue of him and the local goblins have taken a dislike to them. Or they want the gold. Either way, goblins are attacking, the king doesn’t like that and I have to defend the kingdom. I have no clue why we don’t have soldiers for this.

All I have are a shield and my trusty blacksmithing hammer. Thankfully I can build defences, which should clue you in on what genre Now There be Goblins falls into. This tower defence game plays like many others you will have seen or tried. The enemy enters an arena area and walks a predetermined path towards their goal, which is our failure point. As the hero, I build weapons and barricades to kill any and all goblins.

Across the opening levels I learn how to move around the playing area, plus how to select defence items. This early on, it’s the usual barricade that is placed on the paths to slow down the enemy, as well as a few weapons – crossbow, cannon and sharpshooter. These can be dotted around off the path to lay down damage. But you know this, I’m sure.

The goblins enter the kingdom in waves, variously armoured and kitted out with weapons. A highlight of Now There be Goblins is the ability to pick up the discarded weapons from the goblins, all of which feature differing damage stats and styles, such as bludgeoning or stabbing damage. It’s rather laughable to be standing behind a barrier, swinging both arms wildly to whack and stab horrible goblins.

Of course, in between waves placements can be repaired or upgraded, it’s all very much par for the course. Until the bosses show up, and then everything goes to hell. I was happily building items, looting corpses, defending the kingdom. I knew a boss was in this wave, but I underestimated them severely. They are huge, hulking enemies that seemingly know nothing except swinging a weapon and moving forward. I died. A lot.

However, even with those deaths, I was levelling up to unlock new weapons and items and slowly progress bit by bit. I began to admire the visuals and the wonderful little details that brought my role to life. I will happily write a paragraph about just the blacksmith hammer, which is attached to your arm via a chain. This means it can be thrown… and recalled. Like Thor with Mjolnir. I was lopping the hammer, snapping it back, catching it, taking a bit of a pose. It was glorious. 

There were a few graphical glitches from the chain – sometimes it stretched across the entire map, other times it glitched through the placements. But I still felt like a God. And that theme continues in the style of Now There be Goblins, the developers have used a slick cartoon style, with daft, overly large proportions and pops of colour. The weapons and defences feel weighty and look chunky.

I’m still slowly working my way through the campaign. This is an early access title, so it’ll keep receiving updates over time. And I’ll definitely keep coming back. Now There be Goblins has a really delightful gameplay loop, and while the bosses are scary and tough, they feel fair enough to return to the mission and try a new tactic next around. I’ll be back for those goblins, and to protect the kingdom, but I’ve got a Godlike hammer and a bad attitude.

Sci-fi Shooter Boiling Steel Hits Steam Early Access Today

Virtual reality (VR) developer Mirowin’s first title was wild west style shooter Guns’n’Stories: Bulletproof VR, arriving in Early Access back in 2017 followed by a full launch in 2018. Today, the studio will be launching its next project, another first-person shooter (FPS) but this time with a futuristic feel, Boiling Steel.  

Boiling Steel

While Guns’n’Stories was a wave-based shooter with a light story element to keep things ticking along, Boiling Steel will be a much more expansive effort, with a deeper storyline and an extensive selection of levels to play through.

The story takes place in an off-world colony where people go to seek a new future, free from bureaucratic, religious and other radical restrictions. In this new frontier companies and their scientists are free to push the boundaries of technology, which has led to humans being able to transfer their consciousness into robotic bodies to perform all sorts of laborious tasks.

Of course in this technological paradise, some goes wrong. You play a newly arrived inhabitant who just so happens to have awoken from hibernation to learn that a virus has spread through the network and turned the robots into rampaging death machines. There are still robotic shells unaffected, so safely aboard an orbiting space station, you jump into one of them and join the fight on the planet’s surface.

Boiling Steel

For the Steam Early Access release today Mirowin will be making the first half of the Boiling Steel available, which means plot introduction, tutorial to learn the gameplay mechanics and two-story stages offering 30 levels for around four hours of gameplay. A purely single-player campaign, features include nine tools/weapons with an automatic upgrade system for frequently used weapons. There will also be randomly generated biomes to make return playthroughs different.

The studio expects early access to last for around three months, with the final version featuring a further two stages to double the gameplay hours. There are also plans to add a couple of modes adding further variety. A Shooting Gallery will offer the chance to practice with all the tools, while an Arcade Game mode will have 50 missions away from the storyline to fight through.

Boiling Steel supports Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. For further updates keep reading VRFocus.

Track Your Calories in More SteamVR Games With YUR’s Fitness App

One of the surprise benefits of virtual reality (VR) gaming is its ability to get players moving, burning calories and therefore help make them get a little healthier in the process. There are titles which are tailor-made for helping gamers keep track of those calories like BoxVR but what about the videogames which don’t. That’s where YUR comes in, and tomorrow the desktop app will launch to make your VR fitness goals a reality.

YUR Oculus Quest Dashboard

YUR has actually been around for a few months now in a limited form. The calorie tracking app first appeared during the summer when Synth Riders released an Early Access update for its rhythm action experience, allowing PC VR players to see approximately what they had burnt. Then in September YUR Inc. announced the completion of a funding round which also saw the YUR app arrive for Oculus Quest via Sidequest.

With the addition of YUR on Steam, the app offers a realtime activity overlay onto select VR videogames. Using YUR Inc’s. patent-pending technology to estimate calories burned, the app is compatible with the following VR titles:

The app has its own dashboard so you can keep an eye on numerous stats and fitness goals. YUR Inc. also mentions the app supports Bluetooth heart rate monitors. Currently, only BTLE heart rate monitors Polar H10 and XOSS optical armband have been tested. Fitness trackers like Apple Watch, FitBit and Android Watch aren’t supported due to the fact that they don’t broadcast the BTLE heart rate profile.

YUR - Thrill of the Fight

The announcement also conincides with an update for the Oculus Quest version. Updated to 2.0.4 on Sidequest, the new version is more in line with the PC edition, featuring new charts with additional details, new overlay designed by Carize and Quest Link support via the PC app.

The YUR fitness app will be available from tomorrow, 4th November via Steam Early Access. For further updates on the latest VR fitness advancements, keep reading VRFocus.

Post-Apocalyptic Horror Into the Radius Creeps Onto Steam Early Access

CM Games has now released its Steam Early Access version of Into The Radius, giving players access to several hours’ worth of content while helping support the videogame as it continues to expand its storyline, include more weapons and add new features, ahead of its full release in Q1 2020. 

Into The Radius squareInto the Radius is a single-player virtual reality (VR) title blending eldritch horror in a post-apocalyptic ex-soviet setting. It complements story-driven, open-world hardcore gameplay with realistic gun interaction systems, featuring classics like the Pistolet Makarova, double-barrel shotgun and the AKM Kalashnikov. Unravel the mystery of the Radius as you explore, collect artefacts and survive inside a zone filled with dangerous anomalies. 

For Early Access Into the Radius will have all its core mechanics working, offering players a big open terrain map to explore, a hub to pick missions, as well as buying and selling of basic firearms and other useful items. Players will also be introduced to the world’s lore during the early missions.

CM Games expects the final version of Into the Radius to have over 15 hours of content, with all those aforementioned features being added in due course as well as several iconic locations. Like most developers, the studio will be slightly increasing the price when the fully finished version is ready.

Into The Radius

Into the Radius may not be a VR game for everyone, but we think it brings something new to the VR game space,” said  Aleksei Shulga, Director of Into the Radius, in a statement to VRFocus. “We appreciate all the feedback and support from our Beta community, they’ve really been great! We hope that they will like all the improvements we’ve made in the latest version. We’re really looking forward to going deeper into the game’s plot and fleshing out some of the interesting features we have left to implement over the next few months leading up to the full release.”

For Early Access launch week, Creative Mobile is offering a 30% discount which ends on 13th November, dropping the price from £23.49 GBP down to £16.65. VRFocus will continue its coverage of Into the Radius, reporting back with the latest development updates.

Preview: Monster Reapers VR – Ghostbusting 2016 Style, Not 1984 Style

The Halloween season doesn’t need to be about scaring yourself half to death in virtual reality (VR), monsters jumping out of every darkened corner. It can still be ghoulish and amusing at the same time which is what titles like Borrowed Light Studios’ Spectro and Virtual Uppercut Studios’ Monster Reapers VR are all about. Having just hit Steam Early Access, Monster Reapers VR aims to offer some good old fashioned haunted house ghost hunting, it’s just a shame about the movement mechanics.

Monster Reapers VR

Monster Reapers VR is a rogue-lite shooter where you find yourself inside a haunted mansion which needs clearing out. In a similar fashion to In Death, the title is about repetition, venturing inside and seeing how far you can get before you’re killed, returning to the lobby to try again. During each run through you are able to collect coins which can then either be used upon death to upgrade abilities, weapons and so forth.

On first inspection Monster Reapers VR is an enjoyable ghost hunting experience. In one hand you start with a crossbow to kill these wayward spirits – later upgrades include guns – while the other hand casts magic. In the beginning, all you have is Light and Vortex, the former illuminating hidden ghosts which float overhead while the latter can suck up damaged ghosts, dropped coins, and rustle furniture to uncover more ghosts and coins. As you progress you can access further magical abilities

And that’s the general premise, running around these rooms rattling furniture and clearing them out. As the levels are procedurally generated the layout is different every time plus there are extras to find like chest rooms with additional buffs. To get the really good equipment you need to ascend the various floors, vanquishing a big boss in the process. Virtual Uppercut Studios has managed to nail a really good looking visual style and the weapon handling works fine, so what happened with the locomotion?

Monster Reapers VR

This has to be VRFocus’ biggest gripe with Monster Reapers VR in its current form. The title uses smooth locomotion in combination with either snap or smooth rotation. On paper that sounds fine but the implementation not so much. So to explain. As any VR player knows, when shooting any enemy in a 360-degree environment you’re going to physically turn, it’s natural. However, in Monster Reapers VR this will set the movement controls askew.

When starting, forward is forward and so on, on the Oculus Touch sticks. Yet if you physically turn, say a full 180°, then those controls will be reversed. Obviously, this is even worse if you turn 45°. Which makes running around shooting spooky spectres a little awkward. Using snap turn slightly alleviates the issue but comes undone with multiple enemies. The only solution is smooth turning and keeping your feet planted. Great if you’re a hardcore VR player who can handle fully dual-stick locomotion, not so much for everyone else. And as far as VRFocus could see, there were no other locomotion options apart from increasing/decreasing the vignette intensity.

Which quite honestly removes a lot of the enjoyment of Monster Reapers VR. If you like snap rotation then playing Monster Reapers VR is a constant battle, removing that immersive sensation of freedom VR can offer. Virtual Uppercut Studios has detailed lots of new content it plans on adding during Early Access such as locations, enemies and weapons. But that will all be for nought if Monster Reapers VR is frustrating to play.

Sharing is Caring in new Update for Humans 101

Last month Labrodex Inc. launched a user-generated content creation videogame onto Steam Early Access called Humans 101. Featuring a single-player story campaign as well as an ‘Experiment Builder’ to unleash your own weird ideas, the studio has recently added a new feature to greatly enhance the gameplay, the ability to play other human-created experiments.

Humans 101

Humans 101 is a parody on the classic alien abduction, so rather than extraterrestrials taking humans against their will for all manner of experiments this time the little green creatures have asked for volunteers. As a ‘willing’ participant who wants to help these long-distance travellers learn more about homo sapiens, there’s just one little snag, all their info so far comes from TV signals seeping into space. Meaning all the experiments are based on pop culture.

That the main crux of the Story Mode. Once complete it’s time to create experiments of your own with the level editor. However, completing your own experiments is never as fun as those built by others, which is why Labrodex has introduced an online option. This enables you to upload your own experiments for others to play whilst downloading theirs.

“We’ve already seen some incredible experiments created by the players and being able to share them with others adds an exciting community-driven dimension to the game,” said Jim Ivon of Labrodex Studios in a statement. “With our online option, players can share their experiments with the entire player base.”

Humans 101

The team expects Humans 101 to be in Early Access for around four months, aiming for a Winter 2019 launch. In that time the story mode will be fleshed out and the asset library for the experiment builder increased.

As Labrodex Studios announced earlier this month it’s not solely working on consumer entertainment content. Announcing an expansion of its Enterprise AR & VR Solutions Division, this group is working on several corporate client projects which further support the company’s other VR efforts. The studio is best known for its first-person shooter (FPS) Scraper: First Strike, released in 2018 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift followed by PlayStation VR this summer. VRFocus will continue its coverage of Labrodex Inc. reporting back with the latest updates.

Arcade FPS After-H to get Free Steam Early Access Release

Plenty of home virtual reality (VR) titles have made the leap into arcades as a way to make more money for studios. The same can’t be said for the other way around though. French studio and VR operator smartVR will be doing just that later this month by releasing After-H, a first-person shooter (FPS) designed for location-based entertainment (LBE) venues on home VR headsets.


With a basic story revolving around two human factions fighting for strategic points across the solar system in 2080, After-H is a pure multiplayer shooter. With maps supporting up to 4 vs 4 player matches, After-H is a fast FPS with the Early Access release featuring three modes (Team Deathmatch, Free-for-All and Domination), three maps (The Cliff / Ruins Bay / Coliseum) and three weapons (MX42 (assault rifle), The Needle (precision rifle), T1 Gauss (shotgun)).

The Early Access release doesn’t have a fixed timeline for an eventual launch but the studio has plenty of plans for the title, saying on its Steam page: “The full version of the game will include a larger set of weapons, skins, maps, game modes, in-game player and team features. We also have high esport expectations for After-H, which means we’ll have to define a competition system.”

Currently being worked on are Earth and Io maps, pistol, long-range rifle and bow weapons, a tutorial, an account system with levelling rewards and ranked games/leaderboards, plus new gameplay features like social interactions and abilities.


“Our goal was to make a true esport game with quality graphics for optimal VR immersion. We’ve worked hard on balancing and gameplay to launch a game that’s fun and quick to pick up, where players can also develop skills,” says Jean Mariotte, co-founder of smartVR in a statement.

Supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, After-H will launch on Monday 23rd September via Steam and Viveport completely free, with the studio stating even with regular updates it’ll remain free.

For those that don’t own a compatible headset, After-H is available in over 200 arcades around the world which use the SpringboardVR system. For further updates on the videogame from smartVR, keep reading VRFocus.

Schell Games’ Until You Fall Hitting Steam Early Access in August

Ever since Schell Games first announced its next project, the magic-infused sword-fighting title Until You Fall, the studio has been careful to not release too much information. That’s starting to change and in just over a month’s time, you’ll know a lot more as Until You Die as it’ll be arriving on Steam Early Access.

Until You Fall

From the details released so far Until You Fall sounds like a purely melee-based combat experience, pitting players against battle corrupted humanoids, monstrous creatures, and other unknown horrors. Players are able to arm themselves with two weapons and then gather currency by fighting, using what’s been earned forge new weapons or customise current ones with over 30+ unique traits and augments.

From the sounds of it Until You Fall will work in a similar way to In Deathwith players engaging in runs which have randomized rewards, enemy configurations, and rooms, making for a different experience every time. Weapon customisation will only be for one run unless Aether is used to craft and upgrade them permanently.

Until You Fall has been shrouded in mystery up to now, much like the world in which it’s set; however, we’re thrilled to be opening it up for the first time this summer,” said Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games in a statement. “Replayability has been a priority for us with this game. Our goal is to create a hobby game that can build and sustain a community around it. We predict Until You Fall, with its focus on sword fighting combat and progressive difficulty, will offer players a new, fully immersive experience that they will want to explore again and again.”

Until You Fall

Schell Games has now provided some backstory to the title, saying: “Rokar has fallen. Once a civilization fueled by a magical power called Aether, the Rokari have been destroyed by a Calamity of unknown origins. Now, monsters and twisted spirits wander these crystallized ruins.

“As the last remaining Rune Knight, you alone can fight back these horrors. With the help of a mysterious Runesmith, you will forge the weapons needed to complete your campaign.”

Until You Fall will be released via Steam Early Access on 27th August 2019, supporting HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets. For further updates on the title, keep reading VRFocus.

Track Those Calories in Synth Riders Latest Update

There’s nothing like a good virtual reality (VR) rhythm action videogame to get the blood pumping whilst burning a few calories at the same time. But it’s difficult to tell how many calories you’ve managed to rid yourself of playing Beat Saber or Audica for example. For that you need Synth Riders, which was updated this week with native YUR.FIT integration. Plus a bunch of new songs were added.

Synth Riders

Launched last summer into Steam Early Access by developer Retrowave VR and publisher Kluge Interactive, Synth Riders is an unashamed 80s cyberpunk-theme experience dedicated to Synthwave music.

The update this week adds full native integration with YUR.FIT, a piece of fitness software which keeps track of player calories and highlights the fitness benefits of the videogame. Players will be able to see how many calories they burned each game as well as a weekly total. A companion app for mobiles is also planned to help track progress.

In addition to YUR.FIT, Retrowave VR has released a free music pack featuring five songs from FiXT, a music label which specialises in independent electronic-rock artists. This puts the total official Synth Riders track list up to 21.

Full FiXT Music Pack Vol. 1 Playlist:

  • “Unshakeable” (Formal One Remix) by Celldweller
  • “Enemy” (Gydra Remix) by Blue Stahli
  • “Dust to Dust” (Zardonic Remix) by Circle of Dust
  • “Wolves” by Voicians
  • “Free” by Raizer

Synth Riders

“We are very excited about our partnership with YUR. Players love the fitness benefits of Synth Riders, which we continue to take advantage of by keeping them engaged through exercise. This signals the beginning of what we believe to be a fruitful relationship to push VR fitness to new heights,” says Abraham Aguero, Creative Director at Kluge Interactive in a statement.

On top of the standard tracks, players can use the official beat map editor to create their own unique games. Synth Riders is compatible with Oculus Rift/Rift S, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality and Valve Index headsets. Available through Oculus Store, Viveport and Steam, there’s a 20% discount through Steam until 24th June 2019. For further updates on the latest Synth Riders newskeep reading VRFocus.

Preview: Winter Fury: The Longest Road – More Tank Please

After first hearing about Winter Fury: The Longest Road VRFocus was fairly excited to take the videogame for a spin, with the promise of both on foot first-person shooter (FPS) action and some armoured fun in a tank. While the premise is sound, that early excitement was somewhat overzealous as you’re about to find out.

Winter Fury

The first virtual reality (VR) videogame by Spidermonk Entertainment (staffed by former Activision and THQ veterans), Winter Fury: The Longest Road is about one Allied soldier’s lone battle against Axis forces in WWII. You’re given a special, experimental tank (supposedly) with which to wipe your foe from the battlefield, but alas, being able to cause carnage across Europe in the 1940s just wasn’t quite meant to be.

Feeling very much like an older Call of Duty (number three possibly), Winter Fury: The Longest Road is essentially a fancy wave shooter. There’s no running around so it’s super comfortable to play, with each leg of a level taking place at a different location down the titular road. You tend to be located in one of two areas, either on the back of the tank or in a concrete/sand bunker of some sort, mowing down German forces (everything they say is in German for realism).

The much-touted tank you can’t actually drive, moving automatically in a third-person viewpoint until it gets to an area which then switches to first-person. When on the back of the tank you’ll have access to a nice .50-cal heavy machine gun which does a superb job of killing anything you point it at, men, men on horses, trucks, even other tanks. The same goes for some of the bunkers, which either have gun emplacements or you can resort to the pistol on your hip, or the machine gun on your chest (a Thompson naturally). Both the heavy and regular machine guns work a treat, but the pistol aim does seem to be slightly off that aren’t really up close.

Winter Fury

Spidermonk has gone for semi-realism when it comes to certain aspects of Winter Fury: The Longest Road and more arcade-like designs in others. For example, the machine guns can be used single handed, but as you’d expect, pepper the environment – you’d struggle to hit a mountain with the MG. So holding the Thompson with both hands improves the aim while mounting the .50-cal on a sand bag or wall improves accuracy greatly. On the flipside, reloading is a stripped back affair, with a couple of quick actions needed for the heavy, while a standard weapon has an almost rapid reload effect when done correctly.

This makes for a rather lively WWII shooter where you only need to worry about health as the ammo is infinite. It’s also worth mentioning the grenades, as the studio has created a rather interesting mechanic. On the Oculus Touch controller the grip button grabs the grenade as you’d expect, with a white arc appearing from your hand. This denotes where the grenade will travel and can then be locked in place by pressing the trigger. You then throw as normal and watch as your perfectly placed explosive does the damage – no more fumbles or shit throws wasting valuable grenades. It’s a handy little system.

As Winter Fury: The Longest Road progresses things do begin to improve on the tank front, with one level involving a destroyer which needs to be sunk. There are brief – too brief – moments where you get to control the cannon and fire shells – still no direct tank control – but for the most part the destruction comes back to the mounted weapons.

Winter Fury

At present Winter Fury: The Longest Road is a bit of a weird one. You can tell the team have a decent pedigree in this style of videogame, and there are individual elements that shine – the sniper is another one. Yet the gameplay just feels a little reined in, as if the studio didn’t want to go too big too soon. VRFocus will be keeping an interested eye on this one while in Early Access, and advise everyone does the same.