At the start of 2017, sometime after Viveport Subscription went live, I saved five spots to pick all foreign (non-Western) titles to have some fun and explore what other regions were up to with VR. One of the titles I tried was “Eternity Warriors,” which was an early, mostly a tech demo really, version of the game which was essentially one level. I don’t think I could choose other weapons at the time, only sword and shield (though I’m not entirely sure on this). Even then, out of the five titles I tried, the early version of Eternity Warriors was by far the most promising. Although, I really didn’t expect much to come of it or that I’d even encounter it ever again.
Well, I was wrong, and in November 2017 an “Arcade” version of Eternity Warriors VR was released on the Steam Store. As I had some familiarity with it, and recalled enjoying the demo, I had to buy the title and give the full “Arcade” version a try, and I am certainly glad that I did.
Don’t get me wrong, the actual hit-boxes and melee are very much animation-oriented vs physics-based, which is always a little off-putting in VR titles as it can steal the fun/immersion. However, Vanimals has done a great job in balancing this and the actual melee interactions feel surprisingly good for a game of this type. It is still rewarding to swing my huge sword (seriously, easily like 5 feet) and bonk an enemy on the head with it, though more in the form of haptics and the animation reacting to my hit. The shield is especially fun because if you parry certain enemies, which run at you like T-2000 from Terminator, you can launch them into the air and then finish them off with air combos (hitting them with the sword while they are still in the air allows you to keep them in the air until they are dead).
Eternity Warriors VR Arcade consists of 2 stories, represented in game by giant slabs of slate rock you simply destroy to start a mission. Each story line is made up of a few different locations on one map. For instance, if I choose Story 1, I am on a roof of a broken building with the walls missing so I can see the sky above and around me. After I defeat x amount of enemies, I get a score for that section of the story, and move on to a different position on that same broken building map.
Basically, Vanimals is cleverly using position on map to give each story a bit more of a dynamic feeling, rather than just being stuck in the same position throughout the entire story. It’s likely done to give the impression of a larger story while saving on building out multiple environments. I would love to see more environments eventually though, and more interactive elements to the environments as that’s key for immersion. There are some interactive/destructible parts of the existing environments, which is great, but hopefully the devs amp up the interactivity of any future maps.
When you start the game, you can choose multiplayer or arcade, or peruse a shelf of any unlocked trophies, which is beautifully modeled, I must say. You are then presented with three weapon options. You either get the shield and sword, bow and arrow, or a pistol and shotgun. Each of the three options include some form of secondary function. For instance with the sword, once it is charged, holding the trigger will enable a special mode where your sword emits a sort of blade-wave after every swing you make. Or, with the pistols, the secondary function is a charged shot that will do more damage than a normal shot. With the bow and arrow, you can switch between different types of arrows, explosive or standard.
The weapons all feel fairly balanced, I never feel I am at a disadvantage when choosing one weapon over another. And all of the weapons do a good job in feeling “fun,” which is vital.
Combining the different weapon types with the 2 different stories essentially gives you 6 ways to play, as you can choose to replay either of the levels using different weaponry. This is pretty much, currently, the entirety of the game. Including multiplayer is smart as that is where this game can shine. When playing multiplayer, you and your friends all choose different weapons, and you combine to create a pretty bad ass combo of shield/sword + bow & arrow + pistol and shotgun–definitely a fun time hanging with your friends destroying evil entities.
At the end of each mini level, you are presented with a big slate displaying your time and score. It seems to be a great game for speedruns or leaderboard climbers. All the scoring and stats are documented well, and in between story missions you are given the option to choose to use some of a health potion. There are also different difficulty levels included so as you up your game, you can up the difficulty.
At $14.99, it’s clear Vanimals wants people to buy their game, to have a solid base of players for the multiplayer, or to just enjoy the game for the single player. At this price, the content is definitely there to justify a purchase, then add in the multiplayer and it really is an appealing deal.
As it is, the game is enjoyable. While lacking in the physics, it’s made up for in other areas. The enemy models and environments are all high quality. The effects in particular add a lot of shine to help the game achieve a more polished feel. Music and audio is all pretty spot on, plus there has already been a great deal of outreach on Vanimals part to the player base and a few patches/updates have been added since launch. I think it’s fair to say they are dedicated to the title and to VR, and likely will be expanding upon this initial release with either future content (hopefully) or future stories to buy (likely). Either way, I’m glad the devs are showing support for their title and really seem to care about the gamers enjoyment of the actual game.