50 Days Of PS VR #31: ‘RIGS: Mechanized Combat League’ Proves The VR FPS Can Thrive On A Gamepad

by Jamie Feltham • September 12th, 2016

Only 31 days left before the launch of the PS VR! We’re counting down to the release of Sony’s VR headset on October 13th by highlighting one game a day for its anticipated release. Today we’re stepping into our mech suits and gearing up for the main event with RIGS: Mechanized Combat League.

After my last match in RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, I took an extended hiatus from the sport. Much to the disappointment of my fans, I needed some time off from my life of giant robot battling, and I went out with a thrilling bang at E3 2015 with a historic Power Slam victory that saw me score about four points in a match and come away as MVP. But, recently, I’ve been itching to get back in the game, and I set Gamescom 2016 as my big comeback match. It was to be the biggest story of the season.

I have to admit, I felt the pressure starting to mount as I sat in the hangar, my enormous new mech towering over me. There was an undeniable sense of anticipation in the air; I could hear the crowd roaring in anticipation already, and these were (quite literally) some big shoes to fill. I used to be something special in this sport, but had my year off changed all that? What if I didn’t understand how to play a VR FPS anymore? What if Guerrilla Cambridge had changed its fundamental mechanics and made things much harder for me? What if there was a new kid on the block that was going to run circles around my skills?

When you’re approaching a competitive multiplayer game that features a new way to play, these are the thoughts that go through your mind.

Thankfully, getting back into RIGS after so long off felt like slipping into a pair of old, mechanical slippers. Within minutes of play I’d familiarized myself with the game’s controls, which were back to the more traditional stick-based layout rather than a slightly more tricky head-tracked system that will also be included in the final game. I made my first kill seconds into the match, immediately sprinting to the center of a fairly straightforward arena to blast away anyone still finding their feet.

RIGS very quickly made me feel like a sports star once again.

That’s testament to the work Guerrilla Cambridge has done over the past few years working on PlayStation VR’s headlining launch title, and it’s something the team’s Sam Dickinson is very happy with. “I’m really proud of how it’s looking, actually,” Dickinson says of the game as it nears launch on October 13th. “I think we’ve done a lot of work to make something that’s really fun and exciting and it’s a really cool VR experience.”

I really hope (and currently believe) Dickinson is right. RIGS needs to be proof that the VR FPS can work with a DualShock 4 gamepad which, let’s face it, is going to be how most people interact with PS VR. That’s why it’s so important for Guerrilla to offer those different control schemes. In fact, the developer notes that there isn’t one specific way the team wants you to play right now; they themselves are split down the middle in terms of preference.

Rigs-VR-Morpheus

Control options are one thing, but it takes a lot more than that to get a VR FPS up and running without requiring a sick bucket nearby. I ask Dickinson if it was a struggle being one of the pioneers of the genre in VR, but she seems confidently relaxed. “It’s been a pretty smooth process,” the developer says. “There were some thoughts and concerns but, to be honest, no one ever wanted to not make one, if that makes sense. Everyone wanted to try it and we spent the time and we developed something that plays as a full game.”

Of course, there are far more traditional FPS expectations to live up to, too. You don’t just launch a multiplayer title, you give it a first push and then you need to shape it to the demands of your community. Dickinson thinks the team is ready for that responsibility. “I think it’s going to be a really good game for people to enjoy as a community, and I’d like to do everything that we can to support that community, because that’s what makes a game great.”

Hardcore shooter fans also expect there to be some sort of single-player offering, and that’s going to be included too. RIGS has a full career with AI opponents and allies, plus there are trials that allow you to hone your skills. I suspect it might not be enough to keep single-player fans happy, but this is a game that has always been marketed as an online-first experience. To expect much more on the single-player front might be missing the point a little.

So I’m preparing for the full season, then, and I’ve again gone and got myself anxious about just how well my team’s going to do. I think we can all rest easy, though; Guerrilla Cambridge seems to know exactly what it’s doing.

50 DAYS OF PS VR COUNTDOWN

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