If you are into simulated combat or first-person shooters in general, you have no doubt taken a look at Onward by now. But with recent updates, Onward is turning the heads of current players as well as those on the fence about giving the game a proper go.
Published and developed by Downpour Interactive, Onward is an early access Mil-Sim game that pits two teams against each other. In its early access, it has quickly become one of the most active multiplayer VR games for both the Vive and Oculus. Whether you’re a casual or hardcore player, this is one game that makes it easy to find a match to fit your play style any time of day.
Currently, players can enjoy four modes of online gameplay as well as two offline modes. Offline modes include a shooting range and solo operations. Both modes make it easy for new players to experiment with weapons and controls at their own pace. The operations mode was recently launched in the July update and marks a significant improvement in how new players can get their feet wet in Onward.
The operations mode pits you, or up to four online players, against up to twelve AI controlled bots. The bots range in difficulty from rookie to veteran and while each level can be predictable at times, they each serve a role in getting players and teams comfortable with the game’s controls and environments.
Before this update, many players found themselves waiting in lobbies more than playing as they fumbled their way through Onward’s steep learning curve. Even seasoned players will find use of the operations mode, giving them a chance to work on team tactics and target practice. Most importantly, the game mode is incredibly fun.
Time to Meet Your Squad
The online modes include both the mentioned game modes as well as an attack/defend style and escort the VIP game mode. In these modes, up to ten players will form two teams and fight to be victorious. Uplink is an attack and defend type of game mode where players on one team need to enter a sequence of numbers into a satellite uplink that the other team will be defending. In the escort game made, one team hunts down the VIP that the other team will be tasked to protect. If the protection team fails to get the VIP to safety or fails to eliminate the other team, they lose.
Players will fill various roles on their team ranging from specialist and riflemen to designated marksmen or machine gunners. You can further customize a wide range of weapons with optics, suppressors, flashlights, and lasers. Players also have access to body armor, night vision, healing syringes and different types of grenades. Everyone will have a limited amount of ammo and each of your customizing options will cost you a number of points. With only ten points to spend, you will need to put some thought into optimizing your load-out for the mission at hand.
Controlling Your Efforts
The controls in Onward can be difficult to pick up but there is a handy tutorial. You have various setup options that will help customize the experience but it is best to learn the basics before tweaking any settings. The developer has released several videos that will prove to be invaluable to new players and save you some frustration so be sure to check those out.
Once I figured out the basics of movement, reloading and firing your weapon was simple and most of the other controller functions are just as intuitive. The motion controllers continue to shine when it comes to reloading and handling weapons in general. While I still struggle from time to time with reloading certain weapons, just about everything else is second nature after about two hours of gameplay.
Beauties and the Beast
The graphics in Onward are not the best. The textures and models are very basic and lack polish but the weapons are beautiful. The lack of high end graphics doesn’t seem to impact the fun factor of this game in any way. But, if everything else can one day look as good as the weapon models, this game will be something amazing in the mil-sim arena.
The audio overall works for this type of game. Nothing fancy, but the directional sounds are on point and the proximity sounds are perfect for a Mil-Sim game. If one team is being noisy when the other team is around, they will be overheard. Unfortunately, this is something I learned the hard way.
A Few Bumps in the Road
This game does have its flaws. Onward is a very CPU intensive game and many players have reported performance issues. The community, as well as the developer, has addressed many issues with performance tweak recommendations. Unfortunately, it is still up to the player to try and fix such issues and that can be a turnoff to newer players. However, being an early access game, this will not impact my view of the game overall.
The recent update also introduced password protected lobbies as well as competitive lobbies. This gives seasoned players a way to hone their skills against other seasoned players. More importantly, it gives new players a bright yellow warning icon. This indicates that a butt kicking of epic proportions is waiting on the other side. This has cut down on the skill gap significantly and it keeps the more high-strung players from yelling at the new recruits.
Once Onward is running smooth, it is an absolute blast to play. Even if you are just looking to goof off and kill some bots with other players, it can provide hours of fun. One of the things I noticed during my time playing was that, in large, the online community was extremely helpful. More often than not, they were extremely hilarious as well.
While Onward is still in its early access, it is safe to say that this game is winning over a strong fan-base within the VR community. With constant updates and a developer support, Onward is definitely set to be one of the top Mil-Sim VR games available in the foreseeable future. At $24.99, this is only early access that will provide fans of the genre a great return on their investment. At the very least, you will no doubt make some new friends in the lobbies in between deaths.
Developer: Downpour Interactive
Publisher: Downpour Interactive
Release Date: Aug 30, 2016