Covert wasn’t a major, featured demo at the Oculus Connect 5 late last month. The show was dominated by the Quest news, large demo booths dedicated to fully untethered wireless games of Superhot and Tennis scramble, and a bank of Rift stations for upcoming titles like Defector and Stormland. But tucked away at the Oculus Go Bar area, off to the side of the show floor, sat a row of Oculus Go headsets ready to be played.
The Oculus Go is an excellent 3DOF mobile VR device. Its lenses and resolution are top-notch, surpassing even the Rift, PSVR, and standard Vive, and it’s got a massive library that’s been built over multiple years by leveraging past Gear VR titles. And I can honestly say that, for the first time in a while, Covert from White Elk (Eclipse: Edge of Light) is a mobile VR game that I’m legitimately excited about.
When Covert was first announced, it honestly looked a bit too similar to another game: Black Hat Cooperative. Both titles are spy-based stealth games in which a VR user must sneak around with guidance from a non-VR user that can see a map on a second screen display. Sounds pretty similar, right?
Well, the two games are actually quite different. In Covert there is just a lot more to it than that. When I tried it out at OC5 I was the VR user while a developer took the reigns on a connected smart device by my side since the game can only be played in co-op like this.
Immediately I was struck by the fact that Covert really is a complete game. When I heard the pitch for this I expected something reasonably shallow that’s designed to be played in small bursts, like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, but there’s an actual plot here with voice acting and a real story. It’s cited as being several hours long as well, designed to be played across multiple sessions with a friend.
The best thing about my short 20-minute or so demo with Covert was the variety. This is a mobile VR game with full, smooth locomotion via the Go controller’s touch pad. I zoomed down a zip line, tip-toed behind security guards, dodges lasers, cracked a safe, and much more. And that was just the first mission.
Thankfully the cooperative aspect worked incredibly well too. My buddy was able to relay valuable intel like when a laser was going to move out of the way, help me hack control panels, and keep an eye around corners on approaching guards.
It’s also worth mentioning just how perfectly the Go fits this sort of game. For starters, your phone isn’t tied up inside the headset like it is with Gear VR or Daydream View, freeing it up to be a second screen device for friends. Additionally, the embedded speakers ensure that both of you can hear what’s going on inside the VR world and that the VR user can still hear what the second screen partner is saying for guidance. And the portability factor of course.
To be fair, all of this is based on a brief demo with Covert in an ideal environment with one of the developers by my side. Odds were in White Elk’s favor I’d enjoy it in that scenario. I’ve got questions about length, continued variety, and how much of a chore it is to get people to play this with me for more than a few minutes, but those queries should all be answered when the game releases later this year on Go and Gear VR.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below!