I was at Gamescom 2016 and had the privilege of playing some private sessions of both FOR HONOR and STAR TREK BRIDGE CREW, two upcoming Ubisoft titles. And let me tell you, It did NOT go as expected!
Let me start by saying that I am NOT on the VR bandwagon. I see a lot of potential in the technology but so far it does not strike me as mass market tech. I think it will take quite a few more years for VR to hit it big and my latest experience did not change that line of thinking at all.
I was invited into the Ubisoft Lounge at Gamescom 2016 to play some Star Trek Bridge Crew, a full VR experience. The setup was exactly what I expected, rigid chairs you were not allowed to move an inch, cameras, headsets, VR helmets and sensors everywhere. The pricetag alone on those devices would send me into shock as a customer.
We were there as a team of three, all of them strangers to me, and we got some short instructions before we put on the VR headset. Let me tell you, it works amazingly perfect, and it better had, considering all the sensors and cameras everywhere. The full VR experience worked as advertised and I am very happy to say that my personal playsession ran at a very smooth framerate, not a single hiccup and no headaches or nausea for me. It was very pleasant to play.
Our mission consisted of finding parts of a vessel, scanning it, beaming any humans on board and fend off some Klingons. I took the role of navigator, the job Sulu has. I was in charge of maneuvering the Enterprise through some debris, warp us to the location, position it at all times so that the other people could do their jobs and then warp us back before the Klingons took us down (with only 19% on shields left to spare, I might add)
At no point did I make a decision myself, it was all listening to the captain, who was a Ubisoft rep, and working. It was fun and entertaining, but I could see it get stale very quickly as you are, well, working and not playing. It is fun for a while but I imagine that after six or seven missions of just doing your job you might feel the need to change things up. Now, of course that is not a problem in the full game since I assume you can just switch position and be engineer for a while or captain.
What was interesting to see was how incredibly low the resolution was. The visuals were nothing to write home about to begin with but the resolution was so low, it almost felt like it was sub 480p. Perhaps I am wrong about it but it just goes to show that VR simply is not there yet. I am one that prefers smooth framerates over glossy visuals any day but if you have to scale back graphics so much in order to get a stable framerate, the problem is clear.
That being said it was a great experience and I truly believe that in a few years, when tech has advanced, VR will become a big player in many fields. Just not today.
After my Star Trek session one of the devs of FOR HONOR invited me to try out the game. My Star Trek team and I just went in and did battle against four other people – all strangers to us. We were given instructions on how to play and had some time to get used to the controls via a well designed tutorial. And then we jumped right into the game, which was a 4 VS4 online match of capture the fort – three locations to capture and enemies to kill. We had to get to 1000 points first and once we were there the mission was to exterminate the enemies who, at this point, had no more respawns active.
All this time watching Hell’s Kitchen really paid off during this match, as it was clear to me that there is NO victory without communication. I had to constantly remind everyone to keep talking and once we got into that rhythm, we not only had a great time, we also won the match with a ton of score to spare. I was quite surprised since I usually don’t like online gaming but this was something, really.
The build we played looked pretty final to me. I experienced no bugs or major problems, there was no stuttering, no framerate problems and no problem with the controls which are quite complex to master but feel incredibly great. Every action had weight and heavyness to it and the overall experience was amazing.
If I had to sum up my session with the game I’d say it truly lived up to my expectations. I was glad I gave the game a fair chance as it really looks like Ubisoft learned their lesson. Nothing I saw and played was buggy or felt rushed and after talking with a developer for a little I really felt like they got the time they needed to finish the game up, which was nice.
All in all I had a great time at Ubisoft and I will buy FOR HONOR for sure. Star Trek VR, while being an amazing experience seems to be quite expensive with all the tech you need to play it and my disposable income is low. That being said, it did feel truly amazing and immersive and if you are a fan of VR and/or Star Trek let me tell you: You will NOT be disappointed 🙂