Skydance Interactive, which is an arm of the Skydance Media empire that has produced major Hollywood films, brought its first ever video game to E3 this year, and I got to strap on some VR goggles to try it out. The game is called Archangel, and it is a sci-fi VR story-driven shooter set in a post apocalyptic America. It puts you in control of a 60-foot tall mech, which I might add makes you feel like a mechanical God. It is set to release this summer for HTC Vive, Oculus PlayStation 4, and Steam, and based on the demo I played I’m definitely sold on what it has to offer.
The demo featured two distinct missions, both of which consisted of me controlling a massive mech of destruction through destroyed American landscapes as I took on waves of ground soldiers, anti-mech vehicles, and of course air units all hell bent on blowing up my awesome machine. Visually the game looks stunning, in fact it is one of the best looking VR games I’ve played, or seen in action period. I believe the demo was running on the Oculus Rift, so I can only hope the graphical fidelity translates to the other platforms, especially the PSVR, as that is the only headset I currently own.
I was also blown away by the tracking, which uses both the headset and two controllers. I’m sure the developer hosting my demo thought I was on drugs or lost, because for the first minute or so I just would move my arms and look at them in game, which were represented as massive mech arms that perfectly matched my own movements. I also was looking all around the cockpit and environment to fully appreciate the tracking and virtual world that Skydance Interactive created.
In terms of gameplay Archangel is best described as an on-rails shooter, but I really think the on-rails aspect is a blessing as I didn’t experience any sort of motion sickness that other VR FPS games can bring out in me. The shooting controls are very precise, as aiming is tied to each of your two controllers. The right controller activates your mech’s machine gun and other weapons of that nature, while the left controller activates your mech’s explosive weaponry such as rockets. You can also use your two arms to punch at the environment, which I had to use to take out a bridge full of enemies in my way, and the resulting animations and tracking were spot on.
In both of the missions I played my mech would automatically walk to certain firefights, at which time I would begin to rain hell down upon anyone or any vehicle in my path. You truly do get a sense of the ultimate power that these 60-foot tall mechs pack as you blast your way from one checkpoint to the next. I also had to interact with the environment at times, such as punching out power cores with my fists and then turning them to get a bit of a charge myself.
Some may scoff at an on-rails shooter, but for VR platforms I think it is a valid gameplay mechanic, and it worked extremely well in Archangel. It also allowed me to just focus on immersing myself in the experience, so I truly became one with my mech, which resulted in an almost God-like complex. Archangel is definitely one of the best VR games I played at E3, and for that matter one of the best VR shooters I’ve played on any platform in VR. I’m excited by the claim that it will offer a story driven experience, because I think many VR titles skip over that important piece of a great gameplay formula while working with the new technology. With Skydance Media’s pedigree in Hollywood I have no doubt that its Interactive arm will put out the same quality content in the gaming space, so stay tuned to this developer and Archangel as we approach its mid-summer release.
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