Contractors (2018), the team-based competitive multiplayer shooter, is running a free weekend on Steam starting today.
Contractors will be free-to-play until Monday, July 20th. You can download it now on Steam, which supports your standard range of SteamVR-compatible headsets, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Windows VR headsets.
The free weekend ought to give you a good idea of how the game should play since servers will no doubt be bustling.
The current 50% off sale is also likely to attract more users in the short term as well, which brings the game to $10 from now until July 26th.
Developers Caveman Studio have also recently released support for mods, letting users play community-made maps, create custom loadouts, and serve up new and interesting game modes that should keep you coming back for more. There are a ton of mods out currently, including fan favorites from Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Splatoon, and more. Check them all out here.
Cyan, the studio behind iconic puzzle adventure games Myst (1993) and Riven (1997), garnered their fair share of success with their April 2019 Kickstarter campaign, which sought to bring to life their next VR-compatible title, Firmament. Now Cyan says the long-delayed game finally has a release date: May 18th.
According to a Kickstarter backer update, Firmament is now set to launch on May 18th, coming to PC VR headsets including Meta Rift and Rift S, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Meta Quest headsets through Quest Link. A flatscreen mode is also available for play on MacOS and Windows. A previous version of this article claimed it was coming in March, however this is untrue, as the game is confirmed to release on Thursday, May 18th.
The studio says it’s also set to target PSVR 2, PS4 and PS5 at some point “down the line.”
Two months ago the studio released an extended look at some of the game’s preproduction footage, which we’ve included below:
Once targeting a July 2020 launch, Firmament has slipped again and is now targeting a Q1 2023 launch date. Here’s that statement is full; we’ve also included a 9-minute look at the work-in-progress game, embedded below this update:
“As a result of discussions with key team member and staff, Cyan is making the important decision to move the launch of Firmament to Q1 2023. The game is very closed to complete, and the development is rapidly approaching its final phase.
To our Backers, Fans, and Friends, thank you for your continuing patience and support. Your enthusiasm and excitement lifts our spirits daily. We cannot wait to share launch day news with you in (early!) 2023.”
Original Article (July 13th, 2020): Firmament’s launch window seemed a bit tight from the onset, however from an experienced studio that had previously created its latest VR-compatible puzzle adventure game Obduction to both PC VR and PSVR, it seemed not all together impossible.
The reality of creating a game however is admittedly “often quite a bit messier,” the studio says in a recent Kickstarter update.
Here’s a bit of Cyan’s reasoning behind the delay, which is said to push the game’s release date possibly to 2022.
With that in mind, Firmament’s Estimated Delivery date of July 2020 was- as it turns out- a wildly optimistic one. We know some of you had your heart’s set on playing Firmament this summer, and we’re genuinely sorry that you’re not going to be able to play it yet! We’re really bummed about that too!
Although there is no Release Date to announce today, we can tell you a couple things with some level of certainty: Firmament is not coming in 2020. And unless the stars align (which we all know happens rarely in game development), it is unlikely that Firmament will be coming in 2021.
In the studio’s own defense, Cyan says it has “always been about shipping things when they’re ready to be shipped, not picking a date and then trying to shoehorn the game into the box in an artificially limited amount of time.”
Firmament is said to be “something bigger than a studio [of Cyan’s] size would ordinarily be able to produce,” and that it will include a “richer and more substantial story” than was previously planned.
Whatever you thought of Obduction (and its initially uneasy technical performance on both PC VR headsets and PSVR) Cyan has a good track record of delivering, leaving the only real concern to when Firmament will arrive, and not if.
Food for thought: a prospective 2022 release of Firmament is slated to happen well within the lifecycle of next-gen consoles and PC hardware—and possibly VR hardware as well—so there’s no telling what technical advances the studio will need to adopt along the way if it’s looking to significantly lengthen the development roadmap. I guess we’ll see in a few years. As it is, Firmament is targeting PC, SteamVR headsets, macOS, and PS4 & PSVR.
Want to step into the iconic red boots of Sonic the Hedgehog? This fan-built VR experience will let you do just that, and with some serious attention to detail that Sonic fans are sure to appreciate.
Coming to the annual Sonic Amateur Games Expo (SAGE) 2020 in September is a new VR experience that lets you jump into a number of original Sonic the Hedgehog Zones. Called Virtua Sonic, users will be able to fight classic enemies, collect rings and use the terrain to your advantage to achieve high speeds.
As seen in the teaser trailer below, users run pretty similar to the locomotion scheme seen in Sprint Vector (2018), as you pump both arms in a skiiing motion. Users can also brake, jump high into the sky, dash mid-air, and slide along tracks.
“This project’s goal is to push the boundaries of what sorts of experiences are capable in virtual reality, showcasing the potential of the medium as it pertains to high-speed action games,” the developer says, who goes by the handle ‘SuperSonic68‘.
Virtua Sonic is said to support all SteamVR-compatible headsets such as HTC Vive, Valve Index, and Oculus Rift. Its creator however says there aren’t any plans to share it online before its debut at SAGE 2020, which takes place September 5th. We’re hoping we get the full-fat version after that, and it’s not stymied by any of the pesky litigation we’ve seen in other fan-built experiences.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a playable Sonic VR experience to tide you over, NimSony’s Sonic VR prototype experience is still available for download.
Looking to dust off your flying skills before jumping into the cockpit of an X-wing or TIE fighter? Before EA’s upcoming space combat game Star Wars: Squadrons launches on PC VR and PSVR October 2nd, you may consider popping into a few of these VR-compatible flight combat games to get a head start on the competition.
Star Wars: Squadrons will have a few modes at launch, including a single-player campaign, and both a 5v5 multiplayer dogfighting deathmatch and objective-based battle mode. That said, there’s sure to be plenty of room for novice and pro dogfighters across all game modes. Check out the gameplay trailer to learn more.
Anyway, here’s our roundup of a few great VR flight games, which span simulator and arcade subgenres. We’ve listed both PC VR and PSVR games below.
VTOL VR is the quintessential VR-native flight combat game, which includes multi-role jets and an immersive, interactive cockpit that lets you flip switches, press buttons, and manipulate the virtual flight controls with your own two hands. That’s something that probably won’t be possible in Squadrons, so you might as well enjoy it.
Free is a good price—especially for this full-featured MMO that puts you in basically any plane you can imagine, past and present. You don’t have to pay anything to jump right into a number of military-style jets and helicopters from some of the biggest battles in history. Arcadey controls for novice players, and bespoke ‘realistic mode’ designed for more experienced players.
Digital Combat Simulator World is another great free-to-play title focusing on authentic and realistic simulation of military aircraft, tanks, ground vehicles and ships. There may not be any X-wings, but there’s a bustling playerbase ready to hunt you down.
IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is definitely on the simulator side of things, but also approachable enough for new players. If you’re not well versed in flight combat games, you may be better off playing DCS World or War Thunder first before you throw down the cash for this one, which features detailed recreations of some Soviet/Nazi battles of WWII. Although released on Steam for PC in 2014, its VR implementation is on par with other retrofits.
Elite Dangerous is an MMO space sim that definitely has dogfighting. Will you be able to dogfight in space immediately? Not a chance. You’ll need to work for it, build out your ship, and learn the complex controls before you’re ready to cruise the universe.
EVE: Valkyrie is a space-based dogfighter that brings team-based battles to both SteamVR and PSVR platforms. It’s a multiplayer-only affair, which was its biggest stumbling block in the beginning, although its developers CCP eventually added support for traditional monitors in effort to pad out its largely empty servers.
From what we know about Squadrons so far, Valkyrie would have probably been one of the best jumping off points to get you used to team-based aerial combat. CCP has since abandoned the game about a year ago and some users have reported an inability to find matches. When you can, it’s probably one of the best training tools for Squadrons.
This single-player space dogfighter puts you in a Minos Starfighter where you lay down law at the mysterious edge of inhabited space. Complete increasingly difficult contracts for the United Trade Consortium and try to stay alive.
This arcade-style flight game isn’t a dogfighter in the slightest, although it does offer a casual entry point into the genre without being frenetic or violent. Perform tight maneuvers through rings, shoot down balloons, and make precision landings. It’s all good fun in Ultrawings.
Think of this one as a big, big step towards the first proper Star Wars VR game. EA’s Criterion Games did the legwork implementing VR into the company’s Frostbite engine, and Motive Studios took that and ran with it, creating Star Wars: Squadrons. It’s a taster, not competitive, and well worth exploring. It’s also free.
You’re not getting the full fat arcade-style combat experience here in PSVR; it’s only a VR mode that features three missions not seen in the campaign and online modes. It’s typical Ace Combat fun, but way too short to drop the $60 on its own merit.
Boneworks (2019), the physics-based shooter from Stress Level Zero, just got its 1.5 update, bringing along with it a new arena-style map inspired by the Nazi Zombies game mode in the Call of Duty franchise and a few other goodies too.
Called ‘Zombie Warehouse’, the update includes a number of challenges that should keep you on your toes. Zombies can now zip-line in to your location, climb large obstacles, and assault you through your warehouse windows.
You won’t need a hammer and stack of lumber though to board up the open windows, rather you’ll have access to a new boardgun, which lets you point and extrude boards wherever they’re needed.
In addition to the new physics weapon and map, the update includes five Zombie Warehouse modes, multiple difficulty options, experimental enemy AI, various weapon loadouts, and even new music. Stress Level Zero also says its improved player character physics and performance in its 1.5 update.
Boneworks launched on Steam late last year on SteamVR headsets, including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows VR, and Valve Index.
In our review of Boneworks, we felt the campaign mode left something to be desired. While the game served up a rich sandbox of physics-driven interactions, the game seemed less about offering the user something challenging out of the box, and instead giving users the tools to generate their own fun. It’s good to see Stress Level Zero experimenting and drilling into these more bite-sized game modes using its robust system; you never know when a hit mini-game will become the basis of a new project, ala Nazi Zombies.
Building something with your own two hands out of wood can be rewarding, but also messy, difficult, and not always practical depending on where you live. In the Early Access game vrkshop, which is available starting today, you’ll get a chance to learn and put your woodworking skills to the test.
Update (July 15th, 2020): In a surprise move, scopatgames released ‘vrkshop’ onto Steam Early Access today, priced at $20. At its EA launch, the game includes what the studio calls ‘challenge projects’, which task you with building specific things as well as free play mode, letting you play around in a sandbox creation mode. The original article follows below:
Original Article (June 22nd, 2020): According to developer scopatgames, vrkshop challenges you to build projects with hand tools, which means no snap-to-guides or limits on how to cut or fasten the lumber together.
In the game’s Steam listing, scopatgames says the goal is to strike a balance between realism, immersion, and fun, which is why it’s heading to early access first. It’s set to include two different play modes at launch: challenges and free play, the latter of which allows you to build anything you want.
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The current build is nearly set for release, scopatgames says, which includes:
Hand tools: saw and hammer
Measuring tools: speed square, small and large framing square
Fasteners: Common and finishing nails of different sizes
Lumber: 17 different sizes of lumber
Marking tools: pencils, chalk, eraser
A customizable pegboard
Functional chalkboard and hand calculator.
10 challenge projects
A three-part project scoring system
2 free play environments (indoor workshop, outdoor arena)
The game, which is said to launch sometime in July, supports your standard set of SteamVR headsets, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows VR, and Valve Index.
Vrkshop is slated to leave early access sometime in 2021; scopatgames is aiming to include new tools, crafting techniques, interactions, challenges, free play environments, and methods to share the player’s own creations within the community before its full consumer release.
Star Wars: Squadrons is coming to PC, consoles, and VR headsets on October 2nd. And while we got our first look at gameplay of the upcoming dogfighter in a special premier last night, it’s still not entirely clear what’s at stake for VR players.
The game’s creative director Ian Frazier sat down with Gamespotin a video chat where he touched upon subjects like the game’s progression system, the choice to nix microtransactions, and what sort of difficulty levels there will be across both the single and multiplayer modes. Because the game can be played entirely in VR though, Frazier dedicated some time to talking about the game’s VR implementation.
“I personally prefer VR because of the immersion factor, but playing in VR is more like being a real pilot, and being a real pilot is hard,” Frazier told Gamespot.
Frazier explained that some of the game’s ships—notably the very open X-wing and the comparatively closed TIE Fighter—create some natural bottlenecks for players. The X-wing offers a much more open canopy, which in turn gives the player more things to focus on, and viceversa.
“Being aware of all your instrumentation, physical space—it’s very challenging for many players, so we found that 2D, and/or being in an Imperial ship, [those things] kind of counterbalance what you’re losing and what you’re gaining in terms of focus,” Frazier continued.
Still, it’s clear VR players will have some material advantage over players on traditional monitors. The deadly combination of a VR headset and HOTAS setup in capable hands may be a boon for players with the stomach for twisty-turny action, best exemplified by what Frazier calls ‘drifting’, or using the ship’s airbrake to make a tight, sudden maneuver.
The lack of VR motion controllers would be a blow to in-cockpit immersion though, however Frazier says that players will be able to turn off HUD elements and rely on the ship’s interior instrumentation—a VR-native design choice if there ever was one.
While we’re still waiting to see the VR mode action from inside a headset, it’s heartening to hear that VR seems to have always been a part of the game plan with Squadrons.
EA’s Montreal-based Motive Studio says they specifically took learnings from Starfighter Assault and the Rogue One: VR Mission at the beginning of the game’s development. Frazier calls his team’s work like “standing on the shoulders of giants,” as Criterion were the first to implement VR in EA’s Frosbite engine with Rogue One: VR Mission.
“If [Criterion] hadn’t done that, this would have been a whole lot harder for us to build. The whole ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ thing, it’s very much a big part of the outstanding work that team did to make this game possible.”
Star Wars: Squadrons is slated to launch on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 2nd, priced at $40. You can check out the gameplay trailer below.
Vacation Simulator (2019), Owlchemy Labs’ laid back sequel to the madcap VR hit Job Simulator (2016), is getting its first big DLC drop today on SteamVR headsets and Oculus Quest.
Update (September 10th, 2020): Vacation Simulator: Back to Job is now live on SteamVR headsets and Oculus Quest, a free update that brings a load of new gig-style jobs to the game’s holiday hotspots. Owlchemy Labs says the update will arrive on PSVR in October.
The original article follows below:
Original Article (June 19th, 2020): Called ‘Back to JOB’, the free DLC update is slated to satire the gig economy where it seems like you’ll take on all manner of entitled customer.
Everyone (or every-bot) on Vacation Island has decided to join in the fun and quit their steady jobs in favor of fun in the virtual sun, leaving you to pick up the slack.
This is how Owlchemy describes it:
As a gig associate, players will man the Vacation Simulator poolside Cantina with their trusty partner GigBot at their side to assist them through their journey. In this new position players will meet an exciting cast of Bots, all who expect 5-star service. Get ready to cook, entertain, advise, and do whatever it takes for Bots to experience [MAXIMUM RELAXATION].
Vacation Simulator’s Back to JOB update will arrive for free on all supported headsets this fall, which includes SteamVR headsets, Oculus Quest, and PSVR (see update).
Indie studio Sunset Division announced it’s bringing its space-noir adventure game The Rig: A Starmap to Murder to PC VR headsets next week.
It’s been a long time coming for the self-professed “small and scrappy” San Francisco-based VR studio, which was founded in 2016 to create its first VR passion project, The Rig.
Although we’ve never heard of the game before, the trailer for the story-driven adventure certainly looks intriguing.
Anyway, here’s the game’s setup:
You’re Willard Pike, failing Mars-based travel agent, now sent to the far reaches of edge-space by your desperate sister-in-law. She’s charged you with tracking down Dixon, your estranged, deadbeat brother. Dixon’s last known whereabouts are the AMR Alexey Stakhanov — a remote, ominous mining rig hitched to the side of a massive asteroid. But if you do find Dixon, if you stop him from running… what then? Do you bring back the man who ruined your life?
The studio is slated to release The Rig on Steam on Friday, June 26th. It supports your standard swath of SteamVR headsets, including HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows VR, and Valve Index.
Star Wars: Squadrons is EA’s upcoming dogfighting game from a galaxy far far away, and it’s going to include VR support when it launches on consoles and PC in the fall. If you were hoping for an immersive in-cockpit cluster of virtual controls to poke at, you may be a bit disappointed though.
According to its Steam listing, the game is set to support Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Valve Index, although it only lists support for traditional gamepad, or keyboard and mouse on PC.
Furthermore, in the game’s FAQ EA has specified that outside of gamepad and keyboard/mouse, that both joysticks and hands on throttle-and-sticks (HOTAS) will be supported as well. The studio says it will have more details on supported sticks closer to its October 2nd launch.
All of this largely makes sense from a developer standpoint. The game is simultaneously launching on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, and serving a minority of VR players by creating an interactive cockpit with reactive virtual controls—where one likely doesn’t already exist—may be both time and cost prohibitive.
Still, it’s possible motion controllers may be supported to some degree insofar they can be used as normal gamepads—as long as all of the traditional buttons are present like on Oculus Touch and Valve’s Index controllers. Although if that’s the case, you might as well grab a HOTAS to get the immersion you’re sure to jettison behind you.