VR Spotlight: Robo Recall is the best reason yet to own an Oculus Rift
In VR Spotlight, we take a look at the virtual reality games and experiences we have been enjoying around the office. This time the spotlight shines on Robo Recall, the Oculus Touch exclusive from Epic Games. Robo Recall is out now, and is free to owners of the Oculus Touch.
These early days of virtual reality gaming have seen a number of shooting games, with highlights including titles like Space Pirate Trainer and Raw Data. For much of 2016, the very best of these experiences were only playable on the HTC Vive, since that platform's motion controls and room-scale tracking felt like a step above what the Oculus Rift had to offer.
But with the release of the Oculus Touch controllers, and specifically the Oculus-exclusive Robo Recall, there's a new king of virtual reality shooting around. Robo Recall is the most highly polished, most entertaining, and possibly the best VR game on the market right now, and it's the single strongest argument in the never-ending Rift vs. Vive debate.
Destroy robots, get points
As you all certainly know, robots are mankind's oldest and greatest enemies.
Robo Recall is a game where you fight and kill robots. That's about as classic a premise for a video game as there is, and even in the relatively small world of VR there were already about a dozen established games in which fighting robots was your main goal. But Robo Recall is the best of the bunch, and part of the reason for that is the sheer variety of the robot destruction available to you.
Here are some of the things you can do to destroy robots in Robo Recall:
- Shoot a robot with a pistol.
- Shoot a robot with a revolver, shotgun, or laser rifle.
- Shoot a robot with any of the previously mentioned weapons after having upgraded them and attached laser sights, expanded magazines, or recoil improvements.
- Throw an empty gun at a robot and hit it in the face, which reloads your weapon for some awesome reason, then catch the reloaded gun as it flies back to you in slow motion, then shoot that same robot in the face with that gun.
- Grab a robot and smash it to pieces on the ground.
- Grab a robot and throw it off a building.
- Grab a robot and use it as a human shield (or robot shield I guess) while you fire your gun over its shoulder.
- Grab a robot and tear its arm off while it comically pleads for mercy and then smack it in the face with its own arm.
- Grab a robot and tear its head off and throw that head at the robot's friend.
- Teleport up close to a robot taking aim at your with its gun, grab that gun out of its hands, then shoot that robot with its own gun.
- Take control of a giant robot and use its arm laser to destroy other robots.
- Grab bullets out of the air and throw those bullets back at the robots who fired them.
- Use your guns to deflect waves of bullets fired at you, which makes you feel like a Jedi with a lightsaber.
- Shoot at a robot as it jumps in the air and juggle it with your bullets.
- Just freakin' smash a robot to bits with your gun.
And it's all so, so, so much fun.
Robo Recall employs subtle bullet time slowdown effects to allow you to pull off some of its more incredible moves, but for the most part the action in the game happens at full speed, and can feel hectic and desperate during the game's tougher moments. Movement is done via teleporting, which is fairly standard for VR at this point, and it's crisp and quick with the Touch thumbsticks.
Once you get familiar with the game you'll end up using a lot of Robo Recall's various combat tricks without thinking about them, bouncing your weapons off of enemies and grabbing spiderbots as they leap at your face, and at its very best the whole thing becomes a smooth, flowing action dance. You'll accomplish a string of incredible feats, teleporting around and stringing together massive point combos, and when you finally have a moment to breathe and let your guard down, that's when it will consciously wash over you:
Wow, that was awesome.
Shooting for high scores
There's a small story in Robo Recall that plays out over its nine missions, and the game includes some funny writing throughout, but this is not a narrative game. This is a game where you play missions, unlock weapon and ability upgrades, then replay missions in order to earn higher scores and complete achievements. The achievements are often clever and challenging, and add replay value beyond high scores for those who have mastered the basic game. True Robo Recall pros can try to beat missions without ever taking damage, or even without ever firing a gun (using melee and throwing kills to overcome all enemies).
Robo Recall's mission structure is a perfect fit for VR, and allows you to jump in, play a few missions, earn some points, then step away. More traditional VR shooters, such as Arizona Sunshine or Island 359, can struggle with checkpoints that are too far apart, gameplay that drags on, or storytelling techniques that don't quite fit with virtual reality. Robo Recall does everything right, and feels like a second generation VR game in terms of its understanding of what works in virtual reality compared to traditional games.
Even history's greatest robot-killing games—a Mount Rushmore on which Robo Recall most certainly belongs—can lose their charm eventually. And though I've played dozens of hours of Robo Recall and I'm not close to reaching that point yet, there might be other folks out there who crave even more variety in their VR experiences. To those gamers, the developers at Epic Games have one more huge Ace up their sleeves: modding.
There's a full Robo Recall mod kit available for free, and anyone who wants to try their hand at tweaking the game can dive right in. It's not a simple task for those totally new to game modding or design, of course, but it's a lot more user friendly and easy to manage than you might expect, especially considering this is a VR game we're talking about.
There aren't a ton of complete mods out there yet, since the modding scene is understandably small, but there's some seriously exciting stuff in the works. A locomotion mod adds jumping and manual sprinting and slow-mo, while Star Wars and Captain America mods bring some of the greatest weapons of the nerd world into the game (please nobody tell Disney's lawyers, okay?).
Taking it all together, Robo Recall is without question one of the greatest virtual reality games we've seen yet. If you have a Rift and don't have the Touch controllers you're doing the VR thing all wrong, and if you have the Touch controllers and you aren't playing Robo Recall you've got some strange gaming priorities. The game is also available for $29.99 if you don't own an Oculus Touch, but since you need the Touch controllers to actually play it...I'm not sure why you can buy it separately.
For more VR news and hardware, visit Newegg VR Central.