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Blaston Review: PVP cracker in VR with e-sports ambitions

Blaston Review: PVP cracker in VR with e-sports ambitions
logoUPDATE

April 28, 2022:

The most extensive update to date, called "Reloaded," brings a number of new features and content and kicks off the E-Sports League.

You can find details about it below.

Blaston combines shooter elements, physically intense slow-motion action, and a merciless online competition in a unique mix. Read my review to find out whether the game concept works.

Blaston is quickly explained: Two opponents appear on raised platforms and attack each other at close range with futuristic weapons that continuously materialize on the sides of the platform. The platform has a diameter of about four feet, within which one moves with physical effort. There is no artificial locomotion. If you get to the edge of the platform, life points are deducted.

The unusual thing about the gun battles is that the projectiles move through the air in slow motion. This creates a combat ballet reminiscent of The Matrix. A skilled Blaston fighter uses the full space in their favor, attacking from the front, back, left, and right, bending, crouching, dodging sideways, and constantly prancing around the room to escape the projectiles.

The goal is to drain the opponent of all life points by hitting them with projectiles or pressing them out of bounds. Each match consists of a maximum of three rounds, after which the winner is chosen.

Blaston: Review in a nutshell

Blaston offers movement-intensive and strategic shooting battles for competitive VR players. Those who prefer to shoot alone can switch to the single-player mode. Seasonal competitions and a regular supply of new content should keep fans interested for a long time.

Blaston will appeal to you if you …

  • love online competition,
  • want to move while playing and,
  • like short but intense VR sessions.

Blaston will not appeal to you if you …

  • are looking for a single-player title with a lot of varied content,
  • only have a small amount of space to play and,
  • have mobility limitations.

A Matrix-style shooter

Blaston offers more than 20 guns at launch. Besides standard weapons like pistols, shotguns, and railguns, there is combat equipment that shoots huge bullets or mortar-like blasters that let you rain projectiles down on the opponent from above.

Due to the slowness of the projectiles and variety of weapons, the battles gain a strategic element: if you want to hit the enemy, you have to anticipate his next move and block evasive options with projectiles and special weapons. Defensive devices are used to build barriers in front of you or to render enemy projectiles harmless.

A loadout menu allows players to customize their ballistic repertoire and decide how many offensive and defensive combat tools they take into battle. Strategic variety is provided, even though many weapons are merely variations of the same weapon type.

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Blaston_Gegner_macht_herausfordernde_Geste

There is no voice chat and that is probably better. You can also communicate through gestures. | Image: Resolution Games

Blaston should grow

By completing battles, you get experience points and level up. This gives you access to new weapons. These can be bought with in-game currency or real money.

I played for two or three hours and always had enough in-game currency to buy new weapons. I can’t say for sure how this is later in the game and whether you can secure a gameplay advantage through purchases. Besides weapons, you can buy purely cosmetic things like avatars, platform textures, and banners.

The microtransactions are supposed to finance the further development of the title. New weapons, game modes, avatars, and battle environments are planned for the future inspired by player feedback. For example, one of the first updates should make it possible to follow duels from the stands, reveals lead developer Mathieu Castelli.

Purposeful graphics

Speaking of the stands: The duels take place in the same cyberpunk arena, which is designed rather lifelessly and lovelessly. In any case, not much happens in the dark stands.

I would have liked it better if Resolution Games had dispensed with this environment altogether and put the performance power of the Oculus Quest into the visual presentation of the battles and avatars. Blaston’s graphics are functional at best and don’t offer any graphical treats.

The developers have also skimped on the game modes: There are only competitive online duels with matchmaking and leagues as well as private skirmishes with friends. A single-player mode is sorely missed, although the game offers AI opponents.

If you don’t find any human competitors in the matchmaking mode, you automatically compete against AI opponents. The game doesn’t even mark whether you’re playing against an AI or a human. You can’t always tell the difference between the two.

Blaston_Im_Nahkampf_Projekte_fliegen_um_die_Ohren

The developers designed weapons and fights in such a way that they do not seem brutal or glorifing violence. | Image: Resolution Games.

Fighting Agent Smith

Before the game was released on October 8, 2020, only AI matches were possible for testers. These proved to be entertaining, but not particularly challenging. Full of anticipation, I plunged into online duels after the launch, which left me with mixed feelings.

Multiplayer titles like Blaston thrive on their players, and that still seems to be lacking: I often encountered the same one or two opponents several times in a row. This is frustrating when the opponents are clearly superior.

In some fights, I felt like Neo meeting Agent Smith for the first time: The opponent elegantly dodges even fast projectiles, sees my every move ahead, and sifts the air evenly with projectiles so that I’m at zero health points before I know what hit me.

Not for the faint of heart

I should note that I’m not a particularly competitive player, so I’m certainly not part of this game’s target audience. Those who love online battles will be happy with Blaston.

Speaking of challenges: If you want to conquer the online rankings, you have to be fit and agile, because in Blaston your own body becomes the controller. Finger acrobatics and fast reactions alone don’t bring much.

Blaston was first released for Meta Quest (review), and this winter the PC VR version will follow, which will hopefully attract more players to the Blaston League. Currently, a promotion is running that allows Gold-ranked league players to receive a free copy of the game for a friend. Learn more in the game under “News”.

Blaston_Arena_mit_Schaulustigen

Resolution Games could just as well have done without the arena. | Image: Resolution Games

Conclusion: Ballistic Matrix Action for Competitors

If you have the choice, you shouldn’t wait for the PC VR version and get Blaston for Meta Quest (2). The standalone VR headset is the ideal platform for a game of this sort, as long as you have enough space to play: Six square feet should be enough for a carefree gaming experience. Otherwise, you have to be careful, which can dampen the gaming fun.

At launch, Blaston seems a bit poor in terms of game modes and features. Of course, the game only costs $20 and is supposed to be kept alive and developed further by the players’ microtransactions.

Competitive, motion-oriented VR players will certainly get their money’s worth at the beginning. Casual players without special ambitions should wait until Blaston gets a single-player campaign or play and train with friends who have the same skill level.

Update 12/15/2020:

Blaston is coming to PC VR headsets.

Blaston is coming to Steam for PC VR headsets, while also bringing a spectator feature and improvements to the recently released Ozo Lounge with update 1.5. Thanks to the spectator functions, up to eight players can now attend a match. In the Ozo Lounge, players can meet before a match and start duels via fist bump.

Update 06/21/2021:

Blaston gets single-player campaign

The most extensive update to date, called Crackdown, brings the following new features, among others:

  • a single-player campaign with its own storyline that sheds light on the game’s backstory
  • a new game arena (Scrapper’s Market)
  • a revamp of the Ozo Lounge social hub, where players can hang out together, challenge each other to duels, and take photos. The Ozo Lounge now features a jukebox as well as an improved version of the arcade game “Super Alien Blast.”
  • support for the bHaptics TactSuit haptic vest for Meta Quest.

Update from01.10.2021:

Blaston gets new western game mode

On the one-year anniversary of the Blaston launch, Resolution Games releases the third major content update called “Quick Draw”. The update brings an all-new seasonal game mode that enables Western-style duels. It also includes a new weapon and special avatar clothing.

Update 12/9/2021:

Blaston gets a new game mode and mixed reality view for Quest 1 & 2.

The free DLC “Arctic Blast” is released. You can read more about it in the official patchlog.

Update April 28, 2022:

Most extensive update brings weapon attachments and e-sports launch.

“Reloaded” is the biggest update for Blaston to date. Key new features and content include:

  • Weapon Attachments, which can be used to modify and personalize weapons. At the launch of the new feature, 30 attachments will appear, with more to follow in future updates.
  • Attachments allow projectiles to fly faster and to be “cut” in a steep arc upwards or sideways. Even sideways ricochets and delayed sniper bullets are possible.
  • A new weapon called Luma: The bow is held with both hands, unlike previous weapons. In return, the bow shoots accurately and does great damage on one hit.
  • Until May 5, gamers will get a free skin from the VR game Apex Construct for the new bow.
  • A new game mode called “Street Brawl”, in which opponents engage in long-distance brawling with the Luma bow as well as accelerated versions of the fat Nova bullets.

The launch of Reloaded is intended to finally establish Blaston as an e-sport. To this end, the studio is cooperating with the VR e-sports organization VR Master League. The first season will begin in May. Those who are interested can register online.

On May 5, a Spectator app for the PC will also be released on Steam, which you can use to follow duels on a monitor without a headset.

You can buy Blaston here:

Stores Supported devices Price
Oculus Store Meta Quest 1 + 2 $20
Steam PC VR headset, Meta Quest 1 & 2 with PC VR streaming $20

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