‘Anshar Wars 2’ Multiplayer Might Be The Pinnacle Of Phone-Powered VR Technology

by Ian Hamilton • April 15th, 2016

The above video was captured directly from a VR multiplayer session in Anshar Wars 2 on the Gear VR.

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself so absorbed by the experiences in near-complete Rift and Vive PC-powered headsets — stuff like Lucky’s Tale, Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption, The Lab and Oculus Dreamdeck — that I haven’t found time to try the phone-powered Gear VR.

While Oculus and HTC ship PC-powered VR in greater numbers, untold masses across the world are upgrading to a Samsung Galaxy S7 and getting introduced to the entry-level of the Oculus ecosystem for free. One of the games bundled for free with many of those pre-orders is Anshar Wars 2.

Turns out I missed a lot of important developments in mobile VR in just a couple weeks. Oculus not only added screen recording functionality to the headset, Anshar Wars 2 added multiplayer and voice chat.

The game, which is backed by Oculus and made by OZWE in Switzerland, is not the first VR game to add multiplayer or voice chat on mobile, but it does seem to be the first to do both in a highly competitive action game.

I found myself actually spinning in place in my bedroom, trying to direct my ship to catch up to another piloted by a guy in England. He seemed to be doing the exact same thing as me, halfway around the world. So there are two dudes thousands of miles away from each other, with rectangles strapped to their faces, spinning like tops in their rooms trying to destroy one another’s ship. I was laughing, or cursing, with each kill. If you play, make sure you have some space around you to comfortably turn fast.

Up to eight players can face off against one another in Anshar Wars 2. I played two and three player matches against opponents in Switzerland and England and didn’t observe lag, despite using a tethered cellular LTE connection on my end.

anshar-wars-vr-multiplayer

I think it’s important to note that with no special hardware or software beyond a Samsung phone and a Gear VR, I was able to easily capture an intense multiplayer VR session. I’ve been experimenting with capturing footage of PC VR sessions and, while it’s not hard overall, it does require additional software downloads and isn’t easy to activate a recording session while already inside VR. Plus, there are only a few PC VR multiplayer experiences up and running with voice chat baked in.

To me, Anshar Wars 2 now represents the pinnacle of phone-powered VR technology. It combines 360-degree movement, multiplayer, voice chat and the Oculus-powered ability to record screenshots and gameplay while playing. The fact that all of it is powered by a mobile phone is astounding and, as long as you are among those who will find it comfortable (which is only “some” people according to the Oculus comfort ratings), it’s a must-see experience.

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