Available now on SteamVR for a discounted price of $16.99 (for a limited time only).
Today marks the early access launch of Virtual Battlegrounds, a tactical VR battle royale from developer CyberDream in which a group of 24 players duke it out across a massive 4km by 4km island until only one player—or team—is left standing. We’ve already spent a couple hours with the game so far and have so far thoroughly enjoyed our time hiding like cowards from other highly-skilled players, minus the occasional glitch.
While it’s true Virtual Battlegrounds is far from the first VR battle royale game (see Stand Out: VR Battle Royale, Rec Royale), Cyberdreams take on the popular genre sets itself apart from the get-go with a memorable public lobby, which includes a full-size basketball court, an aircraft hangar, and a close-quarters “kill-house” in which to practice your skills before you drop. This is also where players can submit their votes for the upcoming match.
At launch Virtual battlegrounds features support for two battle royale game modes: squad and solo. Players can vote on which game mode they’d like to play via a large touchscreen monitor located at the center of the lobby. Players can also vote on several other decisions, such as whether or not to wait for more players before launching the game.
It’s a good idea in theory, unfortunately the current state of the game makes voting a bit difficult. In two of our online matches, for instance, nearly every player in our lobby voted for squads. Somehow, we still dropped in solo mode. Again, these are all minor glitches that I’m sure will be addressed by the developer in the near future. But, then again, I’m not so sure if I like the idea of public voting in general; at least when it comes to game modes.
Players begin each match inside a large aircraft before free falling onto the map. Similar to existing battle royale games, your success depends heavily on your drop point. Parachuting down onto the roof of a complex and frantically searching for weaponry feels even more chaotic in VR. Virtual Battlegrounds is chock full of attachments and equipment as well, allowing you to customize your weapon with various scopes, laser sights, and silencers. Find a scope for a sniper you’ve yet to acquire? Stuff it in your backpack for future use. Your chest allows room for two primary weapons and two pistols. You can also attach two throwing knives to both of your wrists, just in case things get a little hairy.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a battle royale game without a shrinking battleground. Over the course of each match players are forced into tighter and tighter circles as a wall of deadly “Harraser Drones” begins to engulf the large island. This keeps the game moving by forcing conflict between players as they search for new positions in which to take cover. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get around in Virtual Battlegrounds.
Similar to Stand Out: VR Battle Royale, Virtual Battlegrounds includes a climbing mechanic that allows players to scale various objects and terrain. This can lead to some genuinely cool moments if used correctly. During my first match, for instance, I found myself clearing the bottom floor of a building I was certain housed an enemy player. After confirming my target was upstairs, I scaled the wall outside of the building and popped off a few shots at my unsuspecting foe through the second story window. Zip lines can also be an excellent way of quickly navigating across the map. You’ll find dozens of these handy metal cables placed conveniently throughout your environment. Virtual battlegrounds features a heavy focus on verticality, offering players a generous amount of elevated locations in which to position themselves.
As far as combat goes, the gunplay feels solid, albeit a bit unpredictable. For instance, I found it difficult to line-up long-distance shots using a scope, a common problem among VR shooters. I also found certain attachments tend to get in the way during fights, such as the laser sight; being that it’s located so close to the forward grip, I found myself accidentally detaching it constantly when trying to operate my weapon with two hands. Again, not a game-breaking problem per say, but one that proved to be a noticeable headache.
Our biggest issue, however, came towards the tail end of our final match. After my teammate killed what we thought was the last enemy in our game, the congratulatory “Victory” text fell from the sky, signaling our heard-earned victory. Seconds later, however, we began receiving fire from yet another player still alive on the map. Again, the game is still very much a work in process, so these types of glitches and errors are to be expected.
CyberDream plans on adding addition content regularly as the community continues to grow. There’s even an interactive board in each players’ private lobby allowing them to vote on what content they’d like to see next. This includes vehicles, additional locations and weaponry, body armor, and new game modes. It’s this type of ongoing support and open communication will hopefully allow Cyber Dreams to succeed where many other developers have failed.
Virtual Battlegrounds is available now 15% off ($16.99) on all SteamVR compatible headsets: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest (via Oculus Link), Windows Mixed Reality, and Valve Index.
Image Credit: CyberDream