Rock Band VR Review: Rocking Out Like Never Before
I was apprehensive about the premise behind Rock Band VR. As someone that has played every entry in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises — as well as lots of DLC — it felt strange to me when I learned Harmonix would shake up the fundamental formula that makes Rock Band tick. Ever since the genre rose to popularity we’ve been looking at streams of fret buttons cascading down note highways on screens telling us which buttons to press as we strum along to the music. Green, red, yellow, blue, and orange they fell, like a rainbow waterfall of sore fingers and hoarse voices.
Rock Band VR retains that traditional gameplay with its aptly titled albeit massively truncated “Classic Mode”, but much to my surprise, the real star of the show was the brand new way to play that’s been designed from the ground up with VR in mind.
At its core, the new VR mode (it’s unnamed in the game, it simply exists as the only way to play unless you specifically pick a song under “Classic Mode”) looks like a glorified freestyle session at first. If you watch someone play this way they probably won’t look at the Song Map a whole lot and may appear to just be goofing off. But in reality, it’s much more complex than that.
At the root of what makes this new mode operate is chord progression. Anyone that’s familiar with how playing an actual guitar works will probably recognize that term, but real guitar experience isn’t necessary. You can get an idea for what I mean in the GIF below:
There are seven different chords you can play, each with a different sound, and you have to play them to the beat of the song as it’s shown on the Song Map above the audience. With each section break you’re meant to switch chords and mix them together into various combos. Sometimes it will offer suggested chords for bonus points, but you’re never required to play anything in particular. Theoretically you could play the same one or two chords over and over through the whole song and you wouldn’t really “fail” in the traditional sense, but it’d be incredibly boring and dumb.
The system is made even more intricate when you’re asked to not only rack up chord combos (such as “The Alternator” which is just oscillating between two chords at each section break) but also sliding up and down the neck of the guitar at each section, which the game refers to as chord follows.
The result is that feeling out the song and knowing the rhythm ends up being more important than just staring at the Song Map. The majority of a track won’t show you which chords to play so you’ll have to find your own rhythm and mix up combos and chord follows that feel good to you. Harmonix likes to compare Classic Mode to recording a studio album since it’s full of specific notes and precision that are the same every time, ...
‘Drop Dead’ Review: A Fun Arcade Shooter for Rift and Gear VR
Update: This review was originally published on 11/2/2016 and specifically focused on the Gear VR version of the game. As of tomorrow, 3/23/2017, it will be releasing on the Oculus Rift as well with a large update that also improves and expands the game for Gear VR. This review has been updated by Games Editor David Jagneaux to now account for both versions of the game.
Any Halloween season wouldn’t be complete without creepy, gore-filled action games, so Gear VR users were thankful for the timely release of Drop Dead late last year. This zombie-themed shooter will instantly feel familiar for anyone who spent hours in dark arcades (or in front of TV screens) playing light gun games like House of the Dead. Now in 2017, it’s getting full support for Oculus Rift and the Touch controllers with expanded content and enhanced visuals.
Granted, on-rails, wave-based shooting games are kind of a thing in VR, but we still appreciate a good one when it comes along. Drop Dead from Pixel Toys is, thankfully, a good one.
Part of its success is the game’s general inability to take itself too seriously. House of the Dead–the quintessential horror gun game–worked thanks to a mix of intense bloody action and incredibly deadpan B-movie level absurdity. Right from the start, Drop Dead is channeling a SyFy Channel-level mentality about not taking itself seriously, complete with a lunatic, goggle-wearing mad scientist and sarcastic companions.
The act of actually mowing down enemies in Drop Dead, generally speaking, couldn’t be simpler. You just look and shoot on Gear VR and on Rift you can use a gamepad, the Oculus Remote, or for the best results, Oculus Touch controllers. Pointing and pulling the trigger feels great. The action is entirely on rails, like a vaguely interactive movie, where the game moves you on a pre-scripted path and the only control the player has is what to kill. While simple at first, it’s satisfying and hides a lot of depth beneath the surface.
However, Drop Dead does take a minor nod from Gears of War with its reloading mechanic. When you reload, it’s visualized by a moving bar within a circle. There’s a sweet spot zone in the circle which you can hit for an instant reload. Each gun you acquire has different timing for reloading and missing the sweet spot results in a painfully long and potentially deadly delay in reloading. This provides an interesting and effective method for creating tension amidst the zombie-filled landscapes.
Drop Dead has a surprising amount of focus on its story as well, really more so than it even needs. The evil Doctor Monday is unleashing the zombie apocalypse on the world and because of your special time travel-capable DNA, you are the last person on Earth who can stop him. You have a father and daughter duo who brief you for each mission and occasionally interact during levels and there’s a lot of set up in the B-movie style premise from the start.
The first two levels of the game’s ~13 in the initial story ...
Cloudhead Games Reveal Story Details for The Gallery: Episode 2 – Heart of the Emberstone
There are a few constants in the this world. For example: The Legend of Zelda is basically perfect always, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never sound like a bad idea, the VR community will never not ask for more AAA games, and the folks at Cloudhead will never stop teasing us reveals.
We had the pleasure of going hands-on with the game at GDC 2017 and while it’s hard to get a good feel for a slow-paced interactive adventure title like The Gallery during a convention setting, we came away very impressed. The ambiance is still there, the mystery swirls in the air around you, and there is a nagging sense of discovery pushing you forward at every turn.
You can watch the below video for more reveals about the plot and story of The Gallery: Episode 2 – Hearth of the Emberstone below. The video includes new details about where the story is going next, new characters, and new motivations. However, note that there are spoilers in the video if you have not finished Episode 1 – Call of the Starseed.
Are you excited for The Gallery: Episode 2? Let us know what you think down in the comments below!
Tagged with: cloudhead games, heart of the emberstone, the gallery
Obduction from Myst Creator Gets Long-Awaited Vive and Touch Support
Cyan Studios, creator of legendary PC games Myst and Riven, is officially releasing an update today ot bring its first ever virtual reality (VR) title, Obduction, to more platforms. The Myst successor originally debuted as a timed exclusive for the Oculus Rift and will now be available for the HTC Vive as well with motion controller support. In addition, the Rift version is also being updated to include Oculus Touch support — both pieces of news we reported would be coming soon as of last month.
According to Cyan, the new versions can be purchased for the original release price of $29.99 on Oculus Home, Steam and The Humble Store. Those that have already bought Obduction on Oculus Home will see Touch support added for free in a downloadable update, as well as Touch and Vive support for free on Steam if already purchased.
Obduction is a VR puzzle and exploration game that carries the legacy of Myst and Riven into the modern era. In Obduction you are transported to a mysterious new world where nothing is what it seems. On your journey you’ll encounter a variety of colorful (and sometimes creepy) characters, challenging puzzles and a story that keeps you guessing until the final minutes.
Cyan’s historic gaming pedigree made Obduction a hotly anticipated game and it lived up to the hype. Obduction scored mostly positive reviews (including an 8/10 on this site). However, the lack of hand controls was noticeable and disappointing especially in a game that frequently has you pulling levers, flicking switches, and pressing buttons. Playing Obduction on the gamepad left something to be desired and today those desires are being fulfilled.
Rand Miller, the co-creator of Myst and Riven and the co-founder of Cyan Studios, said of Obduction’s new gameplay options:
“We were blown away by the number of fans who queued up at PAX East and SXSW to be among the first to go hands on with Obduction VR hand controls. Reactions ranged from praise to amazement, and it was genuinely touching to talk with generations of families that grew up on Myst and were now excited about Obduction.”
“I’m so lucky to still be making worlds in this incredible time of rapidly advancing technology that enables us to create places with such deep immersion. After 30 years of making worlds, stepping into our creations with the Vive and Rift feels like a magical milestone – very exciting times for a company that is motivated by providing grand adventures that become people’s worlds.”
Are you excited about this new update? Let us know in the comments below.
Knott’s Berry Farm Installs VR Ghost Town In America’s Oldest Theme Park
Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, California is said to be America’s oldest theme park. The Knott family started it as a literal farm but built it up into a restaurant and then opened up a ghost town in the 1940s for entertainment that served as the basis for a decades-long expansion into a 160-acre park in the heart of Southern California. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you’ve undoubtedly heard of its neighbor Disneyland just a short drive away.
On April 1, Knott’s is opening an expansion to its arcade paying homage to that original ghost town while updating it for the 21st century. VR Showdown In Ghost Town is a multiplayer VR experience that costs $6 in addition to the cost of your ticket. We gave it a try at a media preview this week.
Visiting Showdown In Ghost Town
Whether playing on your own and aiming for a high score or back to back with a friend or family member, the experience is a quick three minute battle that puts you in the middle of an old west town trying to stop time traveling robots.
The headset is completely wireless and, unlike setups like The Void’s Ghostbusters, there’s no backpack you need to wear. There’s just a lightweight headset, toy gun and your best aim to help you as an Old West shooter. The Knott’s location includes eight separate rooms with up to two players per room — so the whole place can support a maximum capacity of 16 people playing at once. In the cooperative experience, two players in the same room share the same square mat that’s roughly 20 feet by 17 feet. Two rooms can be connected in VR though, so up to four players can battle the same robotic baddies together.
How It Feels
Showdown In Ghost Town is centered in the virtual city of Calico with different kinds of robots either firing at you from a distance or rushing your location. The world is built on existing lore from Knott’s Berry Farm including Professor Welles’ Time Machine and buildings seen in the physical Ghost Town. Some robots invading this town are human-sized, but others are evil little buggers that rush your feet. Given that you’re likely to crouch behind cover, these tiny machines can rush you at eye level and it is incredibly satisfying to blast them away.
The game more or less takes place in three phases, with these robot shootouts, an exploding train throwing debris at you and a final boss battle. When you get hit you lose points and at the end of the trip you see how you did compared to the other players.
Blue lines appear when you’ve reached the edge of the space to let you know not to go any further. When you’ve got the headset on and gun in your hand, you can see your friend’s head and gun in the virtual world so you don’t bump into each other. The world was custom-built by a small team over the course of about six months at ...
Viral Quarantine Expands Upon Early Gear VR Original
Fierce Kajiu was an early believer in VR, and one of the first to release a full game for Samsung and Oculus’ Gear VR in Viral. Since then it’s brought the original game to Oculus Rift with Touch support, but it isn’t forgetting its roots. UploadVR got an exclusive early look at Viral Quarantine, the upcoming sequel to the first game.
The UK-based developer is expanding upon the original Viral in its new title that takes elements of the gaze-based original and adds in new twists, like new weapons, and branching paths that let you pick your own route forward. New power ups include ‘Manipulation’ which lets you grab an enemy and throw them into walls. There’s also a lure allowing the player to “lead a virus on to a trap,” according to Fierce Kaiju.
Here’s the trailer outlining much of the gameplay:
The premise of the game, like the original, is that you’re inside a computer full of viruses you need to eliminate. You can point your head and tap the touch pad to fire a ball and take out these robot-like viruses. The first game was set mostly in closed spaces but the new one starts out in a much more open environment. It features the same satisfying physics that let you bounce balls off objects, and successful hits leave robots flying like ragdolls into the depths below. In a note, developer Paul Colls of Fierce Kaiju said they took inspiration from Pinball tables that allow “any avenues to play and score.”
“With Viral Quarantine we wanted to build on what we achieved with the original Viral game, we felt a need to open it up and go bigger,” notes Colls. “With that we decided to build huge feature rich arenas rather than smaller stages. Each arena is full of alternative routes, a multitude of secrets and scoring opportunities. We were able to explore ideas that didn’t quite make the first game as well as exploring new ones.”
Viral Quarantine is planned for release in Q2 2017 for Gear VR.