The mysterious virtual reality title that has been teased by the acclaimed Ukrainian studio 4A games has finally ben revealed. Arktika.1 is the name of the game and it is a apocalyptic shooter for the upcoming Oculus Touch Platform.
Update: The embargo is up!Here is our full Hands on impression.
I know this elevator is going to be scary. I know that the second I walk into it a swarm of deformed, mutated, cannibals are going to do everything in their power to break through the steel grates and devour me alive. Lucky for me, I came prepared.
I reach behind my back with each hand and pull out the laser pistol and shotgun holstered on each shoulder blade. With a deep breath I gather my courage and enter the rickety elevator. I pull the lever that will take me up towards the surface and prepare myself for the worst. What happens next consists of me screaming like a goat in the mid-2000’s.
The cause of my distress is Arktika.1, the long-awaited virtual reality video game from renowned Ukrainian developer 4A Games. The studio finally pulled back the curtain on this mysterious title in the press room at Oculus Connect 3 and the results are nothing short of astounding.
Arktika.1 puts you in the shoes of a well-armed mercenary tasked with defending and supporting your small group of survivors in what’s left of a once prosperous city. The title is being built specifically for Oculus’ new Touch platform and will be released exclusively for the Rift headset, according to the game’s executive producer, Jon Bloch. Bloch explained that Oculus helped to fund the game and that he does not believe it would exist at all without their support.
Bloch was also able to provide a few more key details on a game coming from the highly respected developer of Metro: Last Light.
Essentially, Arktika.1 takes place around 100 years in the future. Some unknown disaster has decimated the human population and given rise to small pockets of barely recognizable civilizations that have to fight and scrap over limited resources. Standing out in sharp contrast to this depleted backdrop is an abundance of highly advanced technology. The weapons, gadgets, and armor of this damaged future are all leaps and bounds beyond anything the present has to offer. These little beauties fire lasers, curve bullets, and project energy barriers to help you battle your way through this (not so) brave new world.
Gameplay in Arktika.1 is nothing short of a thrill. The Oculus Touch controllers were put through their paces and come out looking glorious as I proceeded to blast, block, duck and dodge my way through the 10 minute OC3 demo. Gripping, aiming and firing your weapons is smooth and intuitive. Customizing your load outs with different weapons and accessories happens at a digital workbench, which is endlessly more intuitive than clicking through a menu. And reaching back to pull my guns out from behind my back never ceased to make me feel like the badass I certainly am not in real life.
Combat in Arktika.1 is heavily structured around cover. Each map has several “cover points” that you can warp to by pressing one of the Touch controller’s face buttons. These points are either blue or yellow. Blue spaces represent points that are well covered but a bit farther away, while yellow spaces will bring you closer to the enemy for easier shots, but are substantially more exposed to enemy fire.
Those enemies firing at you have one slightly surprising element in common: they’re humans. Until now, the overwhelming majority of Touch games have chosen to only set you upon artificial foes: robots, mutants, aliens, that sort of thing. It is likely that allowing a user to brutally gun down another human in an environment as immersive as VR has given many developers pause for thought. When asked about this, Bloch’s response was succinct, “We haven’t really thought about it.”
Surprisingly, I didn’t really think about it either. The “video game veil” is still in place while in VR and you never truly feel like a mass murderer for attacking other humanoids no matter how realistically they are being rendered. Speaking of which, the same proprietary engine that 4A employed to create the stoic, gritty world of the Metro series is being used to create Arktika.1 as well. The result is a game that seeps into your very bones with atmosphere and manages to feel unnerving without ever being a full on “horror” title.
After fighting my way through several waves of human foes — who also used cover to their advantage as well with what is clearly one of the most finely tuned enemy AI’s that a VR game has ever seen — I found myself battling the aforementioned cannibals for dear life. Once the screaming subsided and the elevator doors clanged open I was forced to once again witness a “decay v. innovation” theme of this game as a hyper-advanced, hulking automaton bursts through the wall and proceeded to lunge directly at my face.
It’s at this point that the demo ends and yet, despite all of the grime and the fear that it provided, I felt no desire to leave the rich world of Arktika.1. In fact, I found myself aching for another chance to duck behind a rusted out car, draw my trusty laser weapons and rise up with guns blazing.
Arktika.1 is currently slated for a “Q2 2017” release on Oculus Rift according to Bloch. An official price has not yet been set.