It seems zero gravity shooters are the future of VR eSports – or at least they’re what we’re getting right now. Last week we took a look at the exciting Echo Combat Beta where you get to accompany a transport to a final destination, with lots of guns and action along the way of course. This week, though, we got our hands on another upcoming zero-gravity shooter called Space Junkies.
If you’re not familiar with Space Junkies, here’s the what’s up: Produced by Ubisoft’s Montpellier studio, Space Junkies is a fast-paced multiplayer shooter that lets you zip around 4 maps (currently) with up to three other players. Right now, the title offers 1v1, 2v2, deathmatch, and private matches where you can invite any other players you like to go up against. The title is set to release sometime “soon” on Steam and the Oculus Store for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
The beta started last Thursday, June 28th, and is ending today. We jumped into space this weekend to see what sort of action we can expect from this upcoming shooter and weren’t disappointed to see that the game holds up to the level of quality that Ubisoft established with their other VR titles, including Eagle Flight and Werewolves Within. Space Junkies was an incredibly comfortable experience, despite the fact that you’re flying around in zero gravity – that in itself is already a pretty big achievement given that some of the other zero-gravity games we’ve played before haven’t gone so well.
Check out my gameplay trailer:
After the in-depth tutorial, I got spit out into a session with three other players – who were pretty happy that they got another player for a 2v2 team deathmatch. We could fool around in this area for a while and test out the guns floating around on each other, but the trick is to lure these other players into following you into the ‘ready’ area so you can be assigned to a color/team and shoot at whichever map you vote to play on.
Thereafter it’s go time as you grab a gun and fly through a vortex-like area to zip onto the map. Some of the maps are enclosed in what feels like a building or maybe even a spaceship, while others are a lot more open, but all of them allow for flying around while you search for a target, followed by battles in quick bursts. Depending on whether you’re playing in a team or going at it alone in a free for all deathmatch, some strategy can be involved in trying to take out other players. However, for the most part, the game just drives you to fly for the nearest gun, start shooting at whoever crosses your path and never stop moving.
I’ve seen Space Junkies be compared to Unreal Tournament and that’s definitely an accurate comparison. Both are fast-paced with quick respawn times and a myriad of weapons, health, and armor floating around for you to collect. It’s also a very polished experience that had me wanting to come back for more after each round. Each of which only lasted around 5 minutes, making it easy to pick up and play, or even pass around to other people to see who can do better. Making this just as compelling an experience as the upcoming Echo Combat.
Going Down The Fast (Space) Lane
One big difference between Echo Combat and Space Junkies, however, is that while Echo Combat has you traveling from one point to another while fighting others, Space Junkies has no objectives whatsoever. You simply shoot and respawn for the sake of seeing who can rack up the most frags and become the MVP of the match. And while that, and the coins you earn after every match to buy cosmetic upgrades with are persuasive enough to keep me coming back for more for a while, what I saw from the Space Junkies beta may not have been enough to keep more than a core group of players coming back week after week.
Which is quite the dilemma for a multiplayer game that’s basically useless without a large player base. Online multiplayer games like PUBG and Overwatch offer a unique element that persuades players to keep coming back for more, and right now, I’m just not sure if Space Junkies has that element.
But the wide range of weapons and other gadgets, as well as the extremely polished gameplay are certainly a great place to start. So with a promising beta now almost over, and a while still until we see a full release, we’ll just have to wait to see what Space Junkies will bring to the table when it finally comes to Rift and Vive.