Review: Vox Machinae

It has been a while since I last stepped into the giant, hulking mechs of Vox Machinae. The last time was in 2018 to play the newly launched early access version on Steam and it was a hoot. Grabbing levers and stomping around barren alien worlds shooting the shit out of an enemy team also in colossal robots doesn’t get much better, or immersive. Hearing that Vox Machinae was not only leaving early access but was arriving with a single-player campaign and support for Meta Quest 2 made the start of March even more exciting, almost.

Vox Machinae

Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation (just Space Bullet from now on) has always been open with the fact that Vox Machinae has been developed around multiplayer battles first and foremost. A campaign is a very different beast when you have to consider little things like plotlines and character arcs rather than purely ground shaking gameplay.

Whether you’re new to Vox Machinae ­– if you’re playing on Quest 2 like I am – or more of a veteran who has spent countless hours perfecting their GDR setup (or “Grinder” as it’s known in-game), you’ll want to check out the campaign first. For newbies it’s good for getting acquainted with the mechanics – of which there are a few – whilst the gruff old guard can see what Space Bullet has been diligently working on.

It’s the hands-on gameplay mechanics that really make Vox Machinae shine, sat inside the cabin with all sorts of buttons and screens to look at. Whilst most aren’t interactive their addition only enhances the busy interior as you manage three main systems plus a couple of ancillary screens. No matter which GDR you choose forward and reverse motion is controlled via a stick on your left, a stick on your right operates turning whilst a knob also on the left controls the jump jets; the only way you can quickly manoeuvre around. Whilst all the weapons are aimed with your gaze, allowing for shooting and walking in different directions.

Vox Machinae

There’s something satisfying about putting the mech into its highest speed setting (1-4 is displayed on the stick), lumbering forward past craggy rock after craggy rock. Generally speaking, the environments aren’t much to look at, there are no verdant forests here, just different coloured versions of Mars mostly. Those environmental visuals are especially dull and muddy on Quest 2, hence why the cabin is so nice to sit in.

The real trick to learn is that jump jet as it is so useful getting to higher ground or quickly nipping across a chasm. It’s limited in function though, using fuel rapidly which then recharges slowly. But combining them all together during a firefight makes for excellent VR, planning attacks because you can’t nip in and out of cover. That does depend on which GDR you choose though. There are six in total with the usual light, medium and heavy classifications. The Hopper (light) was just a bit too flimsy whilst Dredge (heavy) was an absolute beast with all its armaments – and a bullet magnet.

So the mechs are great but what about the all-new single-player campaign? Space Bullet has crafted a reasonable narrative where you play a miner suddenly thrown into security duty for the mining corporation you work for, having to protect various outposts from malicious operatives. So far so good when you’re planetside carrying out your duties. The rest of the time you’re on a ship with fellow team members fleshing out their stories, trying to add some much-needed depth and character to the proceedings. It’s here where things begin to grate and fall apart.

Vox Machinae

The NPC’s are just awful to look at, wooden and awkward in their movements with hands and arms disappearing into their bodies. Thankfully they don’t walk too much. But you have to. It soon felt like a trudge walking around the various cabin compartments, made even worse by the fact that to move the story along every single person had to be spoken to, even if that’s the last thing you want to do. Credit to Space Bullet for combining the narrative into each character’s monologue rather than some jarring cutscene, although trying to get back to the action was laborious at points. This led me to stop the campaign for a bit and start up the multiplayer.

Vox Machinae’s multiplayer is really what you’ve come here for, big 16-player battles across a variety of gameplay modes. Whether you prefer an all-out war or missions with strategic targets to defend/attack, the modes cover all bases. As you’d expect from a videogame focused on team battles for the last few years.

All the mechs have five areas to shoot depending on your tactics, the main body, arms and legs. Taking out the arms means opponents are generally defenceless depending on the GDR, or hammer at the leg to really make it difficult for them to move. All this whilst pulling and pushing those sticks, grabbing the walkie to talk to teammates (an excellent addition) or pulling on the horn – locomotive-style – when you get a kill. All thoroughly engrossing. There were points where I’d fumble a stick movement due to everything going on so the ability to map the controls was super handy. You can completely customise the controls so there’s no physical exertion whatsoever. Making the seated experience hugely accessible to players no matter their ability.

Vox Machinae coming to Meta Quest 2 is a huge achievement for Space Bullet, it’s great to see this title finally hit the standalone headset and reach a wider audience. Sitting inside those mechs is a joy and never gets old when you’ve got a few buddies watching your back, stomping around the battlefield unleashing lasers and rocket barrages. It isn’t all plain sailing though, glitches were noticeable throughout and that 10-hour campaign makes for heavy, painful going. If you love giant robots fighting and always wanted to partake then Vox Machinae provides a grand (multiplayer) mech experience.

Vox Machinae Graphics Comparison: Quest 2 Vs PC VR

We’re back with a Vox Machinae graphics comparison, stacking up the game on PC VR and Quest 2.

This week saw the long-awaited full launch of Vox Machinae, a multiplayer mech battling effort from indie studio, Space Bullet. It’s an impressive leap forward from the game’s 2018 early access build, delivering not just a full single-player campaign but also an entire Quest 2 port, too.

And it’s a pretty great port at that.

Vox Machinae Graphics Comparison: Quest 2 Vs PC VR

Bringing Vox Machinae to standalone VR was surely no easy task. This is a game in which enormous machinery is detailed down to the slightest degree, set across sprawling landscapes with a dismemberment system and newly-added campaign characters and story sequences to boot.

And indeed, as detailed in a blog last month, Space Bullet went to enormous lengths to optimize the game for Quest 2. The end result definitely has some big changes. Inevitably, this version of the game isn’t as sharp as the still-impressive PC edition, with blurrier, simpler landscapes and mech models that appear meshed together in certain areas. You’ll also notice how different lighting effects and texture changes lead to harsher color contrasts, losing some of the PC version’s visual nuance.

But, those expected setbacks aside, we have to say this is a really impressive Quest 2 port that strives to retain a huge amount of visual detail, especially when it comes to the mechs. Check the cockpit controls and you’ll find the exact same setup, right down to tiny scratches and rust marks in the panels. All the outside eye-candy, from cranes swinging around to meet you to bases filled with smaller buildings, has been kept in there too.

Granted, this is a seated experience and thus there isn’t a massive benefit for wireless VR here. So, if you have the choice, we’d recommend picking up the PC VR version this time around. But if you just have a Quest 2, you’ll still be getting a really impressive experience with Vox Machinae.

Vox Machinae Review-In-Progress: Authentically Rusty Mech Battling

Vox Machinae remains a hefty, convincing mech combat experience now with an appreciated if glacially-paced single-player campaign. Read on for our Vox Machinae review.


Note: We’ve only had limited experience testing Vox Machinae’s multiplayer at this point, largely based on the early access build from a few years ago. We’ll deliver a full review with final impressions and a label very soon but, for now, here’s our thoughts largely based on the campaign and past online experience.

We often talk about how game releases are no longer the finish line for many titles. This is certainly true of some of VR’s biggest apps, like Pistol Whip and Population: One. But, even then, I don’t think I’ve seen a more impressive leap than the one just made in Space Bullet’s Vox Machinae.

Cast your minds back to 2018 and you’ll recall this was already an impressive multiplayer mech battler. You jump into different classes of war machines and pilot them across alien planets with a truly immersive cockpit experience including tiny dashboard details, paint peeling off of control panels, and a smorgasbord of buttons, switches, and levers to tinker with. Admittedly this week’s release is a transition from early access on PC to a full launch alongside an Oculus Quest 2 port, but the studio’s had its welding mask fixed on for a good three years, bolting a full single-player campaign onto the side of an already enjoyable online romp.

Though it’s on the rusty side — both intentionally and otherwise — the complete package remains authentic. Or at least as authentic as your expectations of mech combat in the far-flung future can be.

When it comes to multiplayer, Vox Machinae was always a deceptively deep game with great controls that take time to master. Your two main modes of movement are a gear stick-like lever to walk your mech forwards and backward, or a jet-powered jump that lets you quickly clear big distances or get the drop on the enemy from above.

Though these options don’t take full advantage of the immaculately-detailed cockpits Space Bullet has painstakingly crafted — there’s only three levers between them — they get you up and running in no time whilst you continue to absorb their nuances. Simply walking is responsive thanks to a stick system that shows you the exact speed setting you’re locked to, but rotating around with a lever on the right is purposefully clunky. If you’re to have any hope of avoiding attacks, though, you’ll need to master the art of jumping.

Vox Machinae Review The Facts

What is it?: A VR mech combat game with both single and multiplayer modes that see you battle it our on alien planets.
Platforms: Quest 2, PC VR
Release Date: March 3
Price: $24.99

Though a great means of fast evasion, hammer on the jet movement for even a second too long and you’ll send yourself hurtling off from your intended landing zone. Balancing the unwieldy heft of a thousand-ton death machine with the reflexes and control needed to avoid frustration is a difficult task and certainly not for the impatient, but Vox Machinae often captures the sensation of stomping through warzones and unleashing a payload of missiles whilst keeping you in command.

Predictably, this isn’t always the case. The interactive cockpit is, broadly speaking, very well mapped out, but there are times — particularly in the heat of battle — that you’ll grab the wrong dial or yank the wrong handle, which is largely owed to the fact you’re not getting any tactile feedback about where your hand is currently hovering.

Combat is a similarly considered affair, equal parts sensory assault and tricky to grasp. Weapons are prone to overheating, too much of which will leave you immobile in vital moments, whilst classes will see you find the right balance of firepower and endurance. This isn’t the ammunition-emptying, heavy metal nausea of something like Hawken or Titanfall but instead something much more deliberate and attritional, which extends to a dismemberment system that lets you target specific machine parts like weapons and legs before taking out an opponent in full.

Vox Machinae Quest 2

Vox Machinae isn’t a game of instant gratification, then. Early on, encounters can feel like two overly-enthusiastic kangaroos trying to pelt each other with water balloons as they learn how to hop for the first time. But as you come to learn its intricacies you’ll grow a level of familiarity that grounds you inside your vehicle and makes you feel one with it.

Moreover, it’s the extra touches that make Vox Machinae a particularly rustic delight. The game has wonderful stagecraft, from the sight of enormous cranes lumbering their way round to meet you when you return to your bunker, or being dwarfed by the shadow of your vehicle as you travel up and down the elevator between missions. Trucks busy themselves like ants around you and practically every model in the game has some tiny detail to admire if you spend long enough looking at them.

Vox Machinae is incredibly good at capturing the scale of its star players in relation to your own size, much in the way the behemoth mechs of the Evangelion series stand head-and-shoulders above the cityscapes they protect. It goes some way to offsetting the otherwise understandably barren landscapes, especially on Quest where mushy textures offer a sea of blur until you’re up close.

This carries through to the game’s single-player campaign, which has had a huge amount of attention paid to it, often in ways you might not expect.

Story, for example, is a huge emphasis in Vox Machinae’s campaign. Not only do you have fully-voiced squadmates to build a bond with, but between missions you’ll head back to your ship to talk with members of the crew and complete smaller side-objectives alongside interacting with your AI, Blue. On the one hand, it’s great to see an indie developer tackle such a direct means of narrative in VR, and not relegate the plot to cinematics in virtual windows or loading screen text dumps.

But the game’s eye for patchy visuals filters through to the story, often in less favorable ways. The character animations, for example, are stiff, with NPCs moving more like twisted tubes of toothpaste. They’re prone to placing their hands inside their torsos when speaking, or twisting around so far that cosmetic details clip into other models. But each of the crew’s designs and voice work is distinctive and diverse, and they have their own personalities that make up for their buggy movements. Well, they would do if it wasn’t for the teeth. My god the teeth; sickly-straight arrays of tiny gnashers. They’ll give my nightmares nightmares.

Vox Machinae Campaign

Delivery of the narrative itself zig-zags between some interesting ideas and unnecessary padding to an extreme degree. A side plot involving Blue struggling to find her place in this new crew is a curious little distraction, for example, backed up by humorous dialogue dryly delivered by auto speech (“I’ve entered my rebellious stage”). But there are times when the often 15+ minute ship sections get in the way of what you’ve really come here to see.

You regularly have to speak to every crew member before you’re allowed to progress to the next mission, meaning you have to sit and do nothing but listen to them. It doesn’t matter how fleshed out your characters are nor how interesting your story is; sitting in VR and watching other people talk for anything more than a few seconds without some level of interaction is just never an enaging process. Sometimes even that doesn’t reveal exactly what you’re meant to be doing next.

Combined with the slow-pacing of some of the game’s actual missions, the campaign can be sluggish. If you already know how to play the game, you’re likely to struggle with the opening few levels that don’t show you the ropes so much as drip feed them to you. Worse still, even later levels feature large chunks of trudging between checkpoints, waiting for your fuel meter to ever so slowly fill up and provide you with another boost.

Vox Machinae Review – PC vs Quest

I’ll be surprising exactly no one by saying that Vox Machinae looks a lot better on PC over Quest. The environments are consistently crisp and your cockpit is much sharper. But Space Bullet appears to have made smart choices when it comes to prioritizing Quest assets. Whereas the ugly meshy textures that populate planets suffer from pop-in, being inside your cockpit means they’re often left at arms length. Mech models and panels, meanwhile, still look really good, right down to the scratches and rusting between buttons or covering armor panels. Given this is a seated experience, this is one time you should definitely choose the higher fidelity if you have the choice, but Vox Machinae is by no means a slouch in the context of Quest hardware.

One boss battle, in particular, proves unforgivably monotonous as it has long sections between exposing weak points and a one-hit kill move that’ll send you straight back to not just the start of the encounter, but the minutes-long setup before it even gets going again. The entire campaign needs another pass to sharpen up checkpoint placing.

But, while missions do often boil down to tackling bots in the same arenas you play online in, Space Bullet does implement some welcome variety in the form of defensive objectives or moments that see you try and keep pace with enemy mechs. Though AI on both sides can often get caught in the scenery, the campaign provides a welcome challenge that will really put your skills to the test. The combination of those missions and story do elevate the campaign beyond glorified tutorial status, I just wish the game was quicker at getting to the point.

I’m often not one for calling out bugs/issues that are likely to be fixed within the first few weeks of a game going live, but I do have to make special mention of the single-player’s bizarre reliance on the multiplayer structure. Specifically, the game will ‘disconnect’ if you take your headset off during the campaign without pausing it first. As in it will abort the mission and take you back to the campaign to start over. Again, I fully expect Space Bullet to address this, but it’s incredibly irritating to forget to pause, take the headset off to grab a drink and return to find yourself back in the menu, especially since the game never makes clear when it’s saving and some difficulty spikes with long checkpoints leave you wanting to catch your breath between attempts.

Vox Machinae OC5 Screenshot 11

Vox Machinae Review: Final Impressions

Vox Machinae’s single-player campaign is an appreciated if flawed addition to an already-fun multiplayer mech combat title. Plodding pacing and padded story elements slow your progress to a crawl, but it still retains the game’s deliberate and considered combat, which successfully blends a purposeful amount of rustic clumsiness and lumbering heft. Even if you don’t care for the single-player’s offerings, the frantic class-based multiplayer proved it was worth the price of entry years ago — though we’re still to deliver our final verdict there — and, though there are other mech combat games available, few capture the sense of scale and power on display here. Like its own monolithic war machines, Vox Machinae is a scrappy underdog, but one that’s very much worth rooting for.


For more on how we arrived at this rating, read our review guidelines. What did you make of our Vox Machinae review? Let us know in the comments below!

‘Vox Machinae’ Review – A Deeply Immersive Mech Sim Hampered by Ambition

It’s been a long, lumbering journey for VR mech sim Vox Machinae, but the game has finally hit its ‘1.0’ release out of Early Access, now promising a full 10 hour campaign and a fully-featured multiplayer mode for up to 16 players, plus its first time launching on Quest 2. Did they pull it off? Read on to find out.

Ultrawings 2 Details:

Available On: Quest 2 (not on Quest 1), Oculus PC, SteamVR
Oculus Cross-buy: Yes
Multiplayer Cross-play: Yes
Release Date: March 3rd, 2022
Price: $30
Developer: Space Bullet Corp
Reviewed On: Quest 2, Quest 2 (Oculus Link)

Gameplay

Vox Machinae is a VR mech sim and was built first and foremost as a multiplayer-only game. That held true up until today when developer Space Bullet Corp added a full-fledged campaign to the game for the sweet price of free.

Sensibly, for a small indie team, the campaign leans heavily on what’s already been built in the full game. You’ll see mostly the same landscapes, mechs, weapons, and enemies (with a few interesting exceptions), but this time built around hand-crafted scenarios interwoven with characters and story.

And the campaign is actually much more than just a series of scenarios with voice-overs. It includes a fairly large cast of characters and a story that fleshes out the universe of the game. As a player you’ll join the crew of the transport ship ‘The Competence’, which acts as the hub of the game’s campaign. The player will roam the halls of the ship talking to characters between levels to progress the story before hopping into the hangar to set off on various missions.

Though it’s a clever idea to have the ship act as a hub for character and story beats throughout the game, it turns out to be far and away the least fun part of it all, largely due to really rough voice acting, animation, and writing, coupled with serious pacing issues.

Between missions you’re tasked with roaming the ship and talking to characters to move the story along until you’re finally allowed to go do the fun parts of the game (piloting big hulking robots). When you finally do get to hop into a mech the game really shines.

Especially for a game first released in 2018, Vox Machinae absolutely nails its unique take on VR mechs. Rather than a sleek and speedy combat vehicle, the mechs in the game (known as Grinders) are purportedly repurposed mining equipment, which makes them handle much more like a big-rig than a fighter jet.

Being in the cockpit of any one of the game’s seven unique Grinders really gives you the feeling of controlling a machine much more than being the machine. And that comes with a high level of immersion even when you’re just roaming the game’s alien landscapes (more on that in the Immersion section below).

Though far from feeling like you’re in a sleek and maneuverable fighter jet, you can expect to do some flying. While “lumbering” is definitely the operative word for the primary movement of the game’s Grinders, each is equipped with jump jets which are an essential part of your moveset. And because of the variety of Grinders (some big and heavy, some small and light), the usefulness of jump jets can vary significantly from Grinder-to-Grinder.

Piloting Grinders is a matter of managing your momentum, fuel, and heat.

Bigger Grinders move slowly and take a good while to get up to speed, meaning you need to plan your movements carefully to avoid being stalled in the middle of the battlefield (standing still is a death sentence in many cases). Jump jets help with getting you around but you’ve got limited fuel that takes time to regenerate. And you can have all the firepower in the world, but if you overheat your Grinder by firing too much you’ll force an emergency shutdown that leaves you like a sitting duck waiting anxiously for your blast-shield to open so you can get moving again.

Learning to manage these systems effectively is a fun challenge, especially when you reach that point where it all clicks and you start to feel like you’re handling these metal monstrosities like… well, a slightly more nimble big-rig.

The game’s campaign levels aren’t especially interesting—usually just a string of ‘go here, do that’ objectives—but there’s just enough variety, and handful of unique scenarios that you won’t see in the game’s multiplayer, that I’d say make it worth playing if you’re also expecting to play the game’s multiplayer.

Some standouts include a mission in zero-G where your jump jet abilities are put to the test as you navigate minefields. Another mission concludes with a race in an Overhaul—a Grinder specialized in flying—which felt totally different than what you see elsewhere in the game. There were also some missions involving unique Grinders and even some large stationary guns which I would have loved to pilot but sadly wasn’t presented with the opportunity.

Not every level is memorable though, and some have pacing issues and sparse checkpoints which can make failure feel much more like an annoyance than a deserved punishment.

Unfortunately the fun of being in the mechs is hampered by Vox Machinae’s effort to tell a story to link the scenarios together.

While campaign took me just about the advertised 10 hours to complete, entirely too much of that time was taken up with the story sequences on the ship. The characters just aren’t executed well enough to feel like anything other than puppets, with animations that can best be described as charmingly awful. I was so bored with what they were saying—and how slowly they were saying it—that I found myself doing the virtual equivalent of twiddling my thumbs (which is apparently staring down at my hands in my lap and intersecting my virtual fingers to see how symmetrically I could align their textures).

Beyond vastly improving what’s there—or cutting it out almost entirely—one way to have made the ship sequences not feel like such a drag could have been to tie progression to what’s happening on the ship. This might have been an interesting way to unlock new Grinders and weapons for the player, but unfortunately the campaign just hands them to you on a per-mission basis; sometimes giving you the choice in what you want to pilot and other times sending you out with a specific configuration that suits the mission.

Amicable ambition aside, the Vox Machinae campaign feels like a serious case of the studio biting off more than it could chew. If you’re a player that’s interested only in the game’s single player, I wouldn’t recommend it.

But.

The other half of Vox Machinae—the multiplayer mode—is really the heart of the game. And if you look at the campaign as essentially a training ground to learn how to play—with multiplayer as the end-game—well now it looks a lot more attractive.

Vox Machinae’s multiplayer component is quite fully featured, offering battles of up to 16 players, 6 different game modes, 7 large maps, 7 grinders, 23 different weapons and modules, cross-play between all available platforms—including the ability to play PvE (if you want to blow stuff up with a friend but don’t want the pressure of competitive multiplayer)—and even support for non-VR players on PC so your friends without a headset could join you.

And for better or for worse, there’s no progression in the multiplayer which means everything is unlocked for you right out of the gate, making it more approachable for beginners to compete at the same level as the game’s seasoned veterans.

Remember though, Vox Machinae really is a sim. Once you come to grips with your Grinder, combat in Vox Machinae feels much more like a brawl than a dance. Nothing is really handed to you. There’s no lock-on weapons, every weapon requires some amount of lead to hitting moving targets, and you’ll never have as much fuel or heat capacity as you want. But as a sim that’s sort of the appeal; if you’re looking for an ‘easy’ game, this might not be for you.

But that sim factor really helps drive the game’s immersion, which is a big selling point. I’ve had plenty of fun simply dropping into a PvE convoy escount mode with a friend and getting completely into character as “space mech truckers” (as we liked to call it); basking in the feeling of walking huge robots around barren alien landscapes.

The two halves of Vox Machinae make it a difficult game to rate, because your enjoyment will really depend on how interested you are in each half of the game.

Immersion

Vox Machinae (PC) | Image courtesy Space Bullet Corp

Vox Machinae does perhaps the best job of any VR game to date at selling the feeling of being in a big-ass mech. That’s saying a lot for a game that’s been out since 2018. The game is definitely of the ‘sim’ variety, and its particular flavor of mech is the grounded, lumbering, industrial type, which developer Space Bullet Corp has realized with an aesthetic and gameplay that feels entirely its own.

When you’re running around in your Grinder, the cockpit shakes convincingly with every step. This feels especially cool when you drop from a great height and hear the impact alarm beeping just before you slam into the ground with a convincing thud as your Grinder’s legs try to absurd the force (come in too hard and you’ll actually damage your legs).

A major part of the game’s immersion is thanks to the hands-on controls of the cockpit that also combine head-aiming in a way that feels entirely natural.

The main controls of your Grinder are the throttle, turn stick, and jump jet lever, all of which you need to grab and control with your hands. The jump jet lever in particular feels uniquely cool and intuitive; you grab hold of it and pull upward to engage your jets, then tug the stick in any direction to thrust that way.

Weapons are largely aimed with your head and fired using either trigger or one of the face buttons on each controller. Each of these inputs represents fire-groups 1–4; you can assign weapons at will (including multiple weapons to each group). Even after many hours of gameplay however I found myself consistent mixing up which trigger or button belonged to which fire-group. They really ought to just identify the fire-groups by the input (ie: L, R, B, Y) so that players can always look to their instrumentation for a reminder.

The only time you don’t aim with your head is when using the scope. Every Grinder has a scope which you can bring up by clicking the right stick. This causes a small display to drop down in front of you in the cockpit which shows a magnified view of the battlefield and gives you a reticle which you can control with your thumbstick. This is great for sniping with long range weapons like the Cannon or Railgun and feels particularly immersive to boot.

While there’s a lot of detail in the cockpit, many of the panels and instruments don’t actually do anything and can’t be interacted with (bummer, even just pressing the non-functional buttons to make neat sounds would have made me happy). But there’s key details to be appreciated, like a little gauge which shows your present velocity across all three axes, dangling cables that shake with every movement of your mech, and the pull-to-honk ‘trucker horn’ which has a unique sound for each Grinder and is there purely for the fun of it.

Oh and perhaps one of the game’s coolest immersive touches: the CB radio microphone which you actually need to pick up in order to speak to teammates in multiplayer. It will take everything in you to not immediately start talking with a ‘trucker’ twang. When someone speaks over the radio, other players will see their avatar projected on a small display in the cockpit as well, adding to the immersion of communication. When playing the game with friends we opted to drop out of our voice party and use the game’s in-game radio system purely for the added immersion and role-playing.

Outside of the Grinder—and with the graphics cranked on PC—I was really surprised by how great the environments looked. While the alien worlds are largely barren landscapes, they are surprisingly detailed with impressive sand dunes, interesting formations, and lots of smaller rocks and debris peppered throughout.

Vox Machinae (PC) | Image courtesy Space Bullet

Even when you’re just strolling around in your mech outside of combat, it’s enough to make you feel like you’re really out there. My one gripe therein is that any man-made structures (buildings, trucks, etc) seem to have a scale issue where they always look like small toys rather than full sized objects that just happen to be smaller than your huge mech.

It’s a different story on Quest 2; environmental detail has been chopped down significantly. While I’d say the core of the game does make the leap to the standalone headset, you won’t find yourself staring out your Grinder’s window in awe like you might on the PC version.

Beyond the landscapes losing a lot of fidelity, I was fairly impressed with how the game looks and runs on Quest 2 considering its PC heritage. I saw pretty much perfect performance throughout the campaign (though I haven’t had a chance to test a full multiplayer lobby yet), and while textures and effects are very rough at times, a good bit of the game’s essence remains. I would have liked to see a few of the game’s most important areas touched up to look better on Quest 2 (the inside of the cockpit for instance), but it’s all generally serviceable.

When it comes to characters, however, it’s not a pretty picture on either platform. It’s just hard to take them seriously when they gyrate robotically and consistently clip through themselves. I actually found that I could identify more easily with the game’s two robotic characters, mostly because their artificial voices and movements masked the game’s deficiencies in voice acting and animation.

At very least I can say that I was impressed with the number of unique dialogue lines that each character had for specific situations… if only the dialogue was good.

On both Quest and PC, I was really surprised to find almost no loading time throughout the game.

Comfort

Image courtesy Space Bullet

As a seated, cockpit-based game, Vox Machinae gets an underlying boost to comfort that comes with all cockpit games (thanks to the stationary geometry around the player which acts to ground them).

But all turning in Grinders is smooth turning, with no option for snap turn. That means that people who are ultra-sensitive to smooth turn might not be able to handle Vox. However, even as someone who never opts for smooth turn in non-cockpit VR games, I found I was able to play the game comfortably for hours on end. Still, I would have liked to see an attempt at snap-turning for the mech as well. Remember, if you try the game and find it uncomfortable, there’s a 2-hour playtime / 14-day return window available to you on all platforms the game is sold on.

Vox Machinae includes peripheral blinders, but I found the specific implementation to nearly add discomfort more than subtract it. When turning, the blinders ‘swipe’ in from the left or right. To my brain it seemed this swiping movement actually read as motion itself (whereas peripheral blinders are supposed to prevent the sense of motion). I actually ended up turning them off entirely.

Even though your mech will be climbing hills, dropping off ledges, and using jump jets to bound around the battlefield, the game does a great job of keeping your horizon perfectly stable throughout. Combined with the cockpit all around you, the game remains fairly comfortable even in the heat of combat.

When you’re not in your mech and walking around the ship (during the campaign) you’ll see the usual movement options like smooth movement, teleport, snap turn and smooth turn.

‘Vox Machinae’ Comfort Settings – March 3rd, 2022

Turning
Artificial turning ✔
Smooth-turn ✔
Adjustable speed ✔
Snap-turn ✔ (only in limited campaign sequences)
Adjustable increments ✔
Movement
Artificial movement ✔
Smooth-move ✔
Adjustable speed ✔
Teleport-move ✔ (only in limited campaign sequences)
Blinders ✔
Adjustable strength ✔
Head-based ✔ (only in limited campaign sequences)
Controller-based ✖
Swappable movement hand ✖
Posture
Standing mode ✖
Seated mode ✔
Artificial crouch n/a
Real crouch n/a
Accessibility
Subtitles ✔
Languages English
Alternate audio ✖
Languages English
Adjustable difficulty ✔ (only in multiplayer PvE)
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height ✔

 

Although Vox Machinae is designed largely around motion inputs, it also enjoys a wide range of support for standard controllers, HOTAS, and more. I didn’t have a chance to test the game with anything outside of motion controls, but here’s a complete list of supported inputs provided by Space Bullet Corp:

Standard
  • Mouse
  • Keyboard
Motion Controllers
  • Oculus Touch
  • Vive Wands
  • Vive Cosmos
  • WMR Controllers
  • Valve Index
  • Other Steam R controllers (should work fine, you may want to remap the default
  • bindings in the in-game control menu)
Gamepads
  • All XInput controllers
  • Xbox 360 and One
  • Logitech F310, F510, and F710
  • Buffalo Classic
  • 8Bitdo NES30 Pro, SFC30, and SNES30
  • Executioner X
  • GameCube Controller (MAYFLASH Adapter, USB Adapter)
  • GameStick
  • Hama Black Force
  • Level Up Black Hawk
  • MaxFire Blaze5
  • Moga Pro
  • Natec Genesis P44
  • Nexus Player
  • NVIDIA Shield
  • OUYA Controller
  • PlayStation 2, 3, and 4
  • Speedlink Strike
  • SteelSeries Free
  • Xiaomi Controller
Joysticks, Throttles, Pedals, Foot Controls
  • 3DRudder
  • CH Fighterstick
  • CH Combatstick
  • CH Pro Throttle
  • CH Pro Pedals
  • Logitech WingMan
  • Logitech Extreme 3D
  • Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 (input only, no force)
  • MFG Crosswind V2
  • Saitek AV8R
  • Saitek X45
  • Saitek X52 and X52 Pro
  • Saitek X55 Rhino Stick and Throttle
  • Saitek X56 Rhino Stick and Throttle
  • Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
  • Saitek Pro Flight Quadrant
  • Thrustmaster T16000M and TCA Sidestick Airbus
  • Thrustmaster TWCS Throttle
  • Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas X, 4, and One
  • Thrustmaster Warthog Stick
  • Thrustmaster Warthog Throttle
  • Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder
  • Thrustmaster T-Rudder
  • VKB Sim Gunfighter Modern Combat Pro joystick
  • VKB T-Rudders Mk.IV
  • VKB Gladiator NXT
  • VPC WarBRD
  • VPC Mongoos T-50CM2 Throttle
  • BU0836X Interface

The post ‘Vox Machinae’ Review – A Deeply Immersive Mech Sim Hampered by Ambition appeared first on Road to VR.

The VR Drop: An Early March Bonanza!

If you can tear yourself away from playing Elden Ring on your PC, PlayStation or Xbox – I know it’s hard – then there are a few virtual reality (VR) videogames arriving next week worth your time. They may all be indie gems rather than blockbuster sensations but they all look awesome in their own right.

Lost in Place

Lost in Place – Bright Corners

First up is cute puzzler Lost in Place. The gameplay is simple enough, all you need to do is pilot a tiny, fragile spaceship through a bunch of everyday environments. “The ship is very touchy, quite expensive, and it will break on just about everything,” explains developer Bright Corners, so you’ll have to be very patient across the 50 levels. It’s already out on Meta Quest’s App Lab and will now join SteamVR.

Buccaneers! The New Age of Piracy – Skyward Digital

Time for some pirate shenanigans with Buccaneers! The New Age of Piracy, a single-player RPG where you become a fearsome captain waging naval warfare on anyone who comes too close. Engage in tense naval and land battles whilst customising your ship with new paint schemes, cannons and upgrades. This is purely ship-to-ship combat either, you’ll be able to board enemy vessels and assault forts to loot the best treasure.

Vox Machinae

Vox Machinae – Space Bullet Dynamics Corporation

Having been a Steam Early Access title since 2018, now it’s time for Vox Machinae’s official PC VR launch, with one extra edition; the mech combat experience is coming to Meta Quest 2 as well. Primarily an online, team-based multiplayer where you jump into giant mechs to destroy one another, next week’s launch will see new features including a story-driven campaign with evil corporations and a cast of characters to bring it all to life.

Labyrinth deLux – A Crusoe Quest – Enigma/K5 Factory

Taking inspiration from the likes of Talos Principle and God of LightLabyrinth deLux – A Crusoe Quest is a laser-based puzzler that blends Mayan and Aztec culture into its sci-fi gameplay. Featuring a narrative where you play a space trucker called Robin, pulled wildly off course into an abandoned space station, there are 16 puzzles to solve.

Labyrinth deLux

NeonHAT – Entalto Studios

Entalto Studios originally created NeonHAT as part of Playstation Talents Games Camp Valencia, with the videogame hitting PlayStation VR last summer. Soon it’ll be the turn of PC VR headsets, offering players the chance to test their skills in this neon-drenched racer. NeonHAT features ten courses across three gameplay modes; Extreme Derby, Race, and Pursuit, with five bosses to take care of.

VR Mech Shooter Vox Machinae Gets Quest 2 Version, Campaign In March

Hot off the heels of announcing a single-player campaign at the beginning of the month, VR mech shooter Vox Machinae is also coming to Quest very soon.

Developer Space Bullet confirmed that the game is aiming to launch on the standalone headset on March 3rd, though there’s a chance it could be a little later. This version of the game will include both the multiplayer content already available in the PC VR version of Vox Machinae as well as the single-player campaign, which you can see a trailer for below.

Vox Machinae Quest 2 Version Confirmed

It looks like the PC VR version of the game will also get the campaign on this date, as the game’s been in early access for a number of years at this point. The trailer shows a deep focus on story, with players spending time with crewmates between battles out on alien planets. It’s definitely impressive to see the game place such a focus on narrative, though that voice acting is definitely something.

Vox Machinae first released on PC in early access years back now, and we were fond of its immersive cockpit controls. In a blog post, Space Bullet noted that the team had spent much of the past few years optimizing the game to the point that it could run on mobile hardware. It’ll be interesting to compare how the final PC build of the game measures up to the Quest version.

Will you be checking out Vox Machinae on Quest 2? Let us know in the comments below.

VR Mech Game ‘Vox Machinae’ Coming to Quest 2 in March Alongside Campaign Update

Cult favorite VR mech game Vox Machinae is about to see some big changes come early March. The title is now slated to launch on Quest 2 for the first time, which will happen simultaneously alongside a major update that will add a full campaign.

If there’s two things that developers Space Bullet Corp have heard time and again about their VR mech game, Vox Machinae, it’s requests for a campaign mode and Quest 2 support. As it turns out, the studio has quietly been working to make both a reality, and will be delivering even sooner than we expected.

Currently set for a March 3rd release date, the studio will simultaneously launch the game’s previously revealed campaign update alongside the Quest 2 version of Vox Machinae. The studio has confirmed the game will unfortunately only be available Quest 2 (and not Quest 1), citing performance issues on the older headset. Here’s the release trailer:

Both the original PC VR and Quest 2 versions of Vox Machinae are said to have feature parity, including the new campaign mode on both platforms. The studio has also confirmed that cross-play is supported for multiplayer modes, including an in-game friend system which enables cross-platform invites between friends, rather than mere cross-platform matchmaking. And FYI, the game also supports non-VR on PC, including cross-play with VR platforms.

Vox Machinae has a storied history dating back to at least 2014 when the game was first previewed, well before the advent of motion controllers as the standard means of input for VR content and nearly two years before the first tethered consumer VR headsets even hit the market. Despite its very early entrance into the VR scene, indie backing, and lengthy development period, Vox Machinae has defied the odds and managed to make its way to an early access launch in 2018. Even in 2022, the game stands as one of the best VR mech sims available today and has earned a place on our list of indie VR gems worth playing.

The post VR Mech Game ‘Vox Machinae’ Coming to Quest 2 in March Alongside Campaign Update appeared first on Road to VR.

Vox Machinae’s Awesome Mech Combat Confirmed for Meta Quest 2

Space Bullet launched Vox Machinae back in 2018 as an Early Access title, quickly gaining a loyal following thanks to some tasty mech combat mechanics. Today, the studio has announced an official launch is on the way as well as one very unexpected piece of news, a Meta Quest 2 edition is coming!

Vox Machinae

Designed as a PC VR title, managing to squeeze Vox Machinae onto the Quest 2 is quite the achievement if you’ve seen the game in action. In fact, Quest support was never part of the v1.0 plan as Space Bullet’s Alexander Gorshkov mentions in a press release: “Coming to Quest in particular was not part of our original modest roadmap, and all notions to make such a move were considered unrealistic. Not only by us devs, but by anyone who has a sober understanding of the kind of effort that would be required to make the appropriate optimizations.”

But the team has managed it, with the Meta Quest 2 launch now due to coincide with the full PC VR rollout. This is currently slated to be taking place on 3rd March 2022 but Space Bullet has said this is only on condition that final performance adjustments and bug fixing have been properly finalised.

That’s not all. For the first time, you can actually see the story campaign in action thanks to a new trailer. Up until last month, Vox Machinae had always been a multiplayer combat experience, teaming up with mates to fight in big 16-player battles. It was earlier this month that the single player element was revealed. The campaign adds a new twist to the gameplay, with a planet-hopping narrative where giant conglomerates are vying for resources.

Vox Machinae

Of course, Vox Machinae will still be the same mech fighter on Meta Quest 2 as it is on PC headsets. You can choose from a selection of different GDR’s (Grinders as they’re called) that can be customised with lasers, missiles, cannons and more. Each of these hulking great machines operates within the laws of physics, adding new limbs increases weight and makes you slower. Losing one in battle means a reduction in offensive capabilities but your rig is lighter.

That same sense of realism extends to the control scheme. Inside each cockpit are all the physical controls necessary to manoeuvre your GDR, immersing you in the entire experience.

With only a couple of weeks to go until launch, as further Vox Machinae details are released gmw3 will keep you updated.

VR Mech Game Vox Machinae Is Getting A Full Single-Player Campaign

Popular multiplayer VR mech combat game Vox Machinae will soon have its very own single-player campaign.

Developer Space Bullet revealed the news on its website today. Vox Machinae’s campaign has been in development for over the last two years and will take players on a planet-hopping adventure across the solar system.

In its announcement blog, the developer promised: “Fresh locales along with the battle-tested maps from multiplayer make their appearances, now host to a gripping new story.”

To that end, the team has created a cast of characters to fuel the story and serve as your crew as you go between missions. Space Bullet is also promising huge scale for the game’s environments and mechs that have to be seen in VR to appreciate their scope.

When we last tried Vox Machinae all the way back in 2018 we said the game was one of the most immersive mech battlers yet seen. “All in all Vox Machinae has a lot going for it that really makes it feel special in the VR space,” we said. “You won’t find another game that lets you interact with so many elements of the combat to have actual, immediately results in terms of gameplay like you do here.”

A release date for the campaign wasn’t announced today, though the developer did confirm that it will arrive as a free update for anyone that already owns the game. The campaign’s arrival will also see the game jump out of early access launch and into a full 1.0 release.

Are you going to be checking out Vox Machinae’s story campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

Cult Favorite VR Mech Game ‘Vox Machinae’ Plans Single Player Campaign for 2022

Originally released in 2018, Vox Machinae is a gem of a VR mech game that’s well loved by those that have played it. Though the title looked destined to remain focused on multiplayer, the developer today made the surprise announcement that it plans to release a fully featured single player campaign this year.

Vox Machinae has a storied history dating back to at least 2014 when the game was first previewed, well before the advent of motion controllers as the standard means of input for VR content and nearly two years before the first tethered consumer VR headsets even hit the market. Despite its very early entrance into the VR scene, indie backing, and lengthy development period, Vox Machinae defied the odds and managed to make its way to an early access launch in 2018. Even in 2022, the game stands as one of the best VR mech sims available today.

However, from the outset the game has been (understandably) limited to a multiplayer in scope. And while it’s fun, there’s plenty who have craved a narrative adventure on which to take the game’s hulking mechs—despite that kind of project being well outside the realm of possibility for developer Space Bullet Corp, the tiny indie studio behind the game. Or so it seemed.

It turns out the studio has been quietly toiling away on just that—a single player campaign for Vox Machinae—which it expects to launch this year as a free update to the base game. The update will coincide with the 1.0 version of the game which will bring it out of early access after all these years.

Space Bullet Corp indicates it has a fairly ambitious scope for the project which it says will include a full cast of voiced characters, a story spanning multiple planets, an original soundtrack, and more.

There isn’t a trailer yet, but the studio shared some short teasers with us so far, including a mech ‘launch’ sequence and what appears to be an absolutely massive carrier-like mech platform which players will presumably encounter in the campaign.

A full single player campaign seems so ambitious for the tiny studio that I asked how on Earth they’re managing to pull it off.

Space Bullet Corp co-founder Jakub Czeszejko-Sochacki told me that the studio consisted of a crew of just three full-time developers at the early access launch of the game in 2018. As they’ve begun working on the single player campaign they’ve ramped up to six full-time developers with three additional contractors. And they’ve purportedly been working on the project for more than two years at this point.

That’s still quite a small team to pull off a full single player campaign, but the studio has already shown the capacity to punch well above its weight class, so they’ve certainly got our attention.

Space Bullet Corp says it expects to launch Vox Machinae 1.0 with the single player campaign sometime this year, but hasn’t given a more specific release date yet. The early access version of the game is currently available on Oculus PC and Steam (including non-VR support); when I asked if the studio had any plans to bring the game to Quest or PSVR, I was told—in a seemingly teasing way—it would “have another announcement to make in the near future to address these kinds of questions.”

The post Cult Favorite VR Mech Game ‘Vox Machinae’ Plans Single Player Campaign for 2022 appeared first on Road to VR.