Welcome to DAY THREE of Crunchyroll's PAX Prime 2015 coverage! Yesterday, Baker took us to a couple panels featuring Lara Croft GO and Xenoblade Chronicles X, as well as a special interview with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn's composer, Masayoshi Soken! For day three, I spent some time playing with the HTC Vive VR set (developed with Valve) as well as some other cool upcoming titles!
HTC VIVE VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSET
Before we start actually talking about the HTC Vive, let me say that I've been through a lot of interesting attempts at virtual reality in gaming. There was the Sega Activator, there was the Virtual Boy, there have been a variety of goggles that just bring the screen up to your eyes, culminating in what we have now: devices like Oculus Rift and Morpheus, and the spatial awareness insanity of the HTC Vive.
wut iz dis shiny device (also, they give you two controllers and you can walk around)
My first demo was pretty simple: hold both controllers, inflate balloons with one, and then bat them around a shiny, empty white space with the other. This was meant to give me a sense of the space I could walk around in--coming up to an actual wall would show blue lines blocking my path. No, I didn't crash into a wall, but I did whack it with my hand by not realizing how close I was.
Then the lights went out, and I was deep under the ocean, standing on the bow of a sunken ship. This time, my boundaries were more obvious--I could walk around the space on the ship's bow, with my "walls" being represented by either the ship's destroyed mast or taking a dive into the abyss. Fish floated around, and I was able to poke at them with a controller. Then a manta ray swam by, and I knew how big these guys were in real life, so I wasn't particularly suprised. Then, I felt the vibration in my headphones, and saw all the other fish clearing out...
...as this guy appeared. It's one thing to know how big a blue whale is, it's another to see (a virtual representation of) the largest animal that has ever lived on Earth swimming right up to you. The sense of scale was awe-inspiring--I wasn't able to interact with the whale, but just seeing something like this immediately showed me what was possible with this device.
The second software demo was more of a traditional game: you act as a massive human control tower standing on an island with planes zipping all around you. Using the controllers, trace paths in the air for planes to land on their designated runways, then get other planes off the ground. Land helicopters on the helipad in the same way, and then shrink down to ground level to scare seagulls off the runway with an air horn. It's a fun, straightforward game that took a little getting used-to, but it was a really relaxing experience.
Next up, I was given a set of art tools--all selected through the controllers--and given a chance to draw with light in a purely dark space. Yes, the first thing I did was draw a penis, but I can't share that here. As I was getting the hang of the different brushes, I was asked if I wanted a Portal or Dota 2 experience--I immediately went with Portal.
The lights snapped back on, and I was in a mechanic's shop. A voice on the intercom gave me simple directions: open some drawers, get berated by the intercom for opening the wrong drawer, and finally open the right drawer and receive backhanded praise. All in all, a very Portal experience until I was asked to pull a lever and open a large door on the opposite side of the room. As I did, a robot as tall as I am stumbled into the room requiring maintenance. Using both controllers, I popped open his case and started turning gears and dials, but the directions quickly became so complicated that I couldn't keep up, and the robot exploded in my face. The floor opened up nearby, dumping the broken parts out (and showing me that the "mechanic's shop" was one of the cubes from the beginning of Portal 2) when suddenly...
...this bitch decided to pay me a visit. She didn't show up at first--just her voice on the intercom, condescending and knowing she could end me at any moment--and then the wall opened up and there she was. See, with the blue whale, I was in awe at its size, but I got the feeling it wouldn't hurt me. From her aggressive movements to her tone (and the fact that she is way bigger "in person" than you'd ever expect), GLaDOS was a palpable threat, and she immediately triggered my fight-or-flight response--Baker sadly didn't get a picture of it, but I was literally in a fighting stance ready for whatever she had in store. Fun fact: I was not, and she dropped the ceiling on me. What a way to end a demo, though!
Sure, you've got your Fallout and your Borderlands and your everything else set in a postapocalyptic world, but there's only one Mad Max--Fury Road is still my favorite movie of the year. It's with that same excitement that I approached the upcoming Mad Max video game, which is basically a Batman: Arkham game (or Middle-earth: Shadows of Mordor) set in the blasted wasteland that is Max's home.
Taking control of Max in a huge open world, you have to take on the hilariously-named-but-probably-quite-dealy Scrotus, a warlord who rules the wasteland through fear--and the control of oil. Your goal is simple: shake Scrotus' hold on the wasteland by taking down his oil depots, guarded by his fanatical minions. Driving up to a vantage point, you can scout each depot and try to figure out a plan of attack. Pick off support mooks to prevent enemies from getting buffs, disarm traps, or sneak up to weapons caches to get the upper hand. Once you're in the thick of it, Max controls exactly like Arkham's signature FreeFlow combat, although you'll need to be a little more precise this time around. Simply press the counter button to block an enemy and get them off you, or press it with proper timing to stagger them and deliver a ferocious killing blow.
Of course, it wouldn't be Mad Max without some insane vehicular warfare, and you get to tear through the wasteland in Max's customizable car, armed to the teeth with some nasty weapons like flamethrowers as well as a harpoon that you can use to rip tires off enemy vehicles and tear down lookout towers. While the driving/combat was fun, my only real complaint was that I didn't keep forward momentum like Burnout--I constantly had to circle around to fight enemies, although there was a handy Sleeping Dogs-style sideswipe maneuver. Mad Max hits PS4, Xbox One and PC --tomorrow! Holy crap! Buy it!
Motiga's Gigantic is similar to Battleborn, which I had a chance to play on day one--they're both five-player action games with heavy MOBA influence, but Gigantic is a third-person game that more directly mirrors the MOBA structure. Two teams of five each support a massive Guardian, a god-creature that you must simultaneously protect and fight alongside. When one team gets the upper hand (through kills and gaining XP), their Guardian will attack the other Guardian, knocking it down so players can attack while it's weakened. The first team to destroy the other's Guardian wins!
It's a pretty simple setup, and each character is designed for different types of players--there's a direct FPS/TPS analogue, some sneaky and ability-heavy characters who fight from the sidelines, a frog designed for fighting game players with a very mechanically-intense control scheme, and my pick: Lord Knossos, a massive spear-wielding minotaur designed for pure damage-dealing mayhem. Per the usual MOBA style, you can level up mid-fight to increase your skills (and thus, your usefulness to the team). But unlike Battleborn, where we were fighting scripted AI encounters, Gigantic allowed me to take advantage of human error (or their fear as I charged into their ranks) and work together with my team to gain ground.
I think it's safe to say that our team kicked a healthy amount of ass--it was a close game, but we squeaked through with only a pixel of health remaining on our Guardian, with our side's PR praising us for actually working as a team. Here was our endgame report, with my not-too-shabby-if-I-say-so-myself score taking the top spot:
Gigantic hits PC and Xbox One later this year, but stay tuned to Crunchyroll Gaming Community for a chance to try it out yourself--we're giving away beta keys!
Thanks for coming by to see our coverage of Day Three of PAX! The final day, Day Four, is currently in full swing and I'll be back tomorrow at the same time to tell you all about Dark Souls III, Minecraft Story Mode: A Telltale Games Series, Super Mario Maker, Homefront: The Revolution and more!
CRUNCHYROLL NEWS PAX PRIME 2015 COVERAGE