Everyone’s jumping on the battle royale bandwagon these days so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise to you that some game developers are trying to bring the genre to VR as well. While the concept might make some people cringe, there’s no doubt that battle royales are extremely popular right now and could bring in extra bucks to some financially-savvy developers. That being said, Against Gravity – the studio behind the adorably charming free to play multiplayer Rec Room has also released their own take on the battle royale genre.
In an update called Rec Royale, the team has taken to letting players paraglide down to a mountainous region to fight it out and see who can be the last man standing. Since Rec Room is open to people of all ages, they did create their own spin on it with paintball guns instead of real weapons, and have stuck to the cutesy cartoonish design style that hallmarks their title.
The Rec Royale update is the latest in a string of new quests and adventures that have been added to Rec Room in the last couple of months. So far, the team at Against Gravity has managed to make each new experience – which includes a futuristic shooter and a zany pirate adventure among others – a uniquely fun undertaking with friends or strangers alike. So while bringing a battle royale mode to the game seemed like a hype train jumping move to me at first, I decided to try the new mode for myself, using an HTC Vive, and see if it’s lived up to all the fuss.
Check out my gameplay video:
Rec Royale doesn’t support teams just yet, so this was a solo only experience, which felt strange at first within the Rec Room setting because all of their other quests and games have always focused on pushing you to team up with other players. However, it didn’t diminish the fun side of Rec Royale in the least.
The game starts out much like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds which undoubtedly served as inspiration for this new mode. A cable car filled with players opens up to let you drop and then paraglide safely to an area on the map of your choosing. So far so good, but then, of course, the mad scramble to get some gear and weapons starts. Luckily I didn’t have to wait for almost a hundred other players (VR isn’t really there yet anyway) because Rec Royale takes just 16 players per match and pits them against each other on a relatively smallish map – which is definitely large enough for that amount of players – that gets smaller as time ticks by through a moving circular barrier called the “Swarm”.
The glider on the way down felt really intuitive and works really well. It was also a much cooler feeling to glide down to the island in VR than in, say, Fortnite for instance. However, unlike the more popular games of the genre, Rec Royale doesn’t have lots of loot laying around in every second room or building. Instead there are coolers (as in the things you put beer in) scattered around the map – mostly outside – with loot like weapons, ammo, and drinkable health potions inside. It takes a while to open chests to get loot which means you’re vulnerable for a few moments every time you’re looking for new stuff.
Need More Poooweeeer
At this point, the game only offers a small variety of guns. The paintball weapons don’t feel powerful enough either. I kept waiting to feel a powerful blast but ended up with a mediocre puff. In a way this does make sense, though, because the title does cater to a younger audience as well and so far most of the quests and other experiences on the game haven’t been overtly violent either. Much like the paintball guns in the actual paintball game that Rec Room offers, the bullets leave the guns with a little “splat” sound and fly in a small arc or a spray. The crux of it seems to revolve around predicting where enemies will be rather than just shooting at where they are.
I never had to wait too long for a match and the matches didn’t last too long, with the “swarm” keeping players running into each other through gradually making the area smaller. Which I was actually thankful for because I could only sprint in short bursts, which meant it felt like I was too slow at times and kept missing out on the action – because I was too far away from other players and too slow to catch up. The game does offer both teleport and smooth locomotion. I prefer smooth personally, so stuck with that for most of the game, but the teleportation also works fine and kind of pulls your body to the spot instead of making it disappear. Which definitely causes much less frustration in an FPS setting since you’re not shooting at someone who was there one moment and is gone the next.
Gliding To Victory
Overall, my first foray into the new Rec Royale mode was a very enjoyable battle royale experience. But it can do with some more unique features (besides the fact that it’s in VR) that sets it apart from other battle royale games and adds some excitement. Because right now the game does have a dash of uniqueness thanks to the setting and Rec Room‘s undeniable charm, but it does lack some originality. The mechanics also still need some tweaking and using the backpack during gameplay was a little uncomfortable because it takes a while to open it up and go through it. At least it especially felt that way whenever I was in a tense situation and needed to reload (if you watched the video – yes, I eventually figured it out).
That being said, Against Gravity’s take on the battle royale genre was really just fun to play. It shows a lot of promise and is definitely another feather in Rec Room’s cap that will keep players coming back for more.