VR was practically everywhere at PAX East 2016. The technology was all anyone could talk about, with the OCulus Rift and HTC Vive seeming to take up the bulk of the conversation. This makes a sort of sense, with those two presenting the high end variety of VR. However, what impressed me more was just how close PlayStation VR got to the experiences I’ve had with those two much more expensive devices. I’ll have my full impressions for PSVR out soon, but what really sold me on the $400 virtual reality device was the game that I played first: RIGS Mechanized Combat League.
RIGS is an interesting title for VR, as it makes a whole lot of sense, and almost none at all, seemingly all at the same time. It makes sense because it’s a seated experience, putting players into a mech suit and having them duke it out in a sports arena-style maps. It doesn’t makes sense because, unlike most VR games right now, it’s not presenting any sort of gimmick.
What sets RIGS apart from other VR games is the intense attention to detail that the developer put in
RIGS is just a regular game, a shooter in fact. Players walk around the arena in their mech suit, shooting at one another while trying to score points. Those points come from the sports side of the massive equation that makes up RIGS. Each map has a goal that players need to walk, jump, or fall through to score points. To actually get the point they’ll have to be in Overdrive mode, which is initiated by gathering enough glowing orbs from around the map. Do this and you’ll need to make your way to the goal, which usually puts a big target right on your back.
It’s a lot of fun actually, blending shooter mechanics with a sport. Though not wholly unique, it works well enough to function even without the PlayStation VR component. However, once it is added RIGS becomes a whole new experience. The shooter mechanics blend so well with PSVR that it will be a shock if we don’t see a ton more games in this genre.
Moving around felt totally natural, using the PS4 controller just like normal. Aiming was done through a combination of the right stick and physically moving your head, looking right at your target in order to hit them with both of your guns. It only took a few seconds for this all to click and then it was smooth sailing for the rest of the five minute plus match.
RIGS Mechanized Combat League Trailer
What sets RIGS apart from a few other VR games I’ve experienced is how much it plays like a normal game, and the intense attention to detail that the developer put in. It’s normal for you to feel immersed in a VR game, but RIGS put so much effort into maintaining it that it really stood out. Just the simple fact that shifting your own body would translate so perfectly into the game, with your avatar leaning and twisting their arm in unison with your own, is noteworthy.
Unfortunately my time with RIGS was short so just this first impression was all I could really get. However, that impression was a very good one and showed a game that could easily propel the PlayStation VR into thousands of homes. And thanks to it playing so well as just a normal game, it could really give players something to keep coming back to once they get their shiny new VR headset.