VR Tribes pits 3 on monitor vs. 1 in VR
In VR Tribes, tiny creatures fight a giant – with claws, guns, and devastating hailstorms.
Acron from Demeo developer Resolution Games has proven how much fun asymmetrical VR party games are and how well ordinary smartphones can be integrated when a wild battle between very unequal opponents starts. VR Tribes takes the principle to a new level. One VR player is enthroned as a mighty monster from outer space in the center, while three desktop gamers scurry around the periphery protecting their villages.
Asymmetrical battles for SteamVR
I’ve been at war with the German developers inside of Framelocker in the current alpha version. Although many functions and balance features are not yet ready, the fun-potential was immediately apparent to me.
My goal as a lone warrior with a VR headset is to destroy the surrounding villages. Like in the arcade oldie Beachhead, I stay rock-solidly anchored to the beach to turn my head in all directions. Since I don’t move from the spot, it remains very comfortable. I dismantle my puny opponents with laser cannons or cosmic hailstorms, for example.
My three online opponents squat in front of mouse and keyboard in the classic way and try to eliminate me with nasty tricks and abilities. If my adversaries bring enough gems to a furnace for destruction, I am defeated and the planet is saved – but I won’t let that happen.
VR Tribes: hammering, cloaking, and galactic village basketball
The esoteric mushroom creature Maka confuses me with mirages of its clones. Later, it hisses at me in a sprint to beat the cosmic crystals out of my body, which my species needs to survive.
The brawny “tank” Groht maltreats me from close range with his hammer. He can steal the crystals from me particularly effectively in order to destroy them in the furnace. Two of the gems fit into his inventory, while his fellow players only have one.
Pirate Bay prefers to annoy me from a distance. She attacks with a pistol and simply disguises herself as a cactus or boulder at the touch of a button. The amazingly similar transformation only helps her, of course, if I haven’t already spotted her sprinting across the field. My shots also quickly make her run again if she doesn’t want to end up as a charred cactus. More classes are still in the works.
The most fun is to simply grab nearby pests with the alien paws and hurl them into the distance. Or I light them up with my laser eye special attack.
My adversaries reappear on the scene shortly after their death, but my attacks still pay off. Each kill earns me a flashing orb, which plays an important role in the destruction of the villages. I throw it accurately and with a lot of momentum at one of the settlements, almost like a basketball. Only when all three villages have been razed to the ground is victory mine!
Three monitor dwarfs, one VR giant
In the second match, I switch sides and experience the world from Unreal Engine on the monitor. After a short time of getting used to the flatter-looking graphics, it becomes clear that even as a “flat player” I have a few options open to me.
For example, I can use a cannon to disrupt some attacks or the giant’s view. Before that, I have to get the bullet out of a crate and then slowly drag it to the gun.
Is such an effort worthwhile when I can attack directly much faster? Studio co-founder Florian Denning couldn’t answer that question for me yet. In an asymmetrical title with different player types, a suitable balance is not that easy.
Perhaps a mode for two equal teams will follow later: Both sides would then compete with a VR giant and three small monitor heroes. Such a variant could make the game interesting for e-sports.
VR Tribes: Galactic hustle and bustle – also for Quest (2)?
According to Denning, the Framelocker Studio for 3D visualizations and interactive media has only recently been trying its hand at gaming. Since the government funding is coming to an end, the team is looking forward to further support on Patreon, says the developer.
The release of the full version on SteamVR is roughly targeted for November. Oculus Link or wireless streaming from the gaming PC will thus also let you play with the Quest 2 (PC VR streaming guide: Air Link & Virtual Desktop). A native Quest version is planned for the end of the year.
If you are interested, you can already sign up on Patreon to participate in the alpha. Prices start at $5.50.