Gunheart Is An Intense Co-Op Shooter From Gears of War And Robo Recall Devs

by David Jagneaux • May 31st, 2017

Editor’s Note: Since this article was written, Drifter has added full smooth locomotion support. You can also now try the game in Early Access on Steam.

The dawn of consumer-grade VR headset technology happened over a full year ago. Developers had their hands on dev kits for years prior to that and the game industry has been churning out quality content for decades. Naturally, the convergence of all that game developer talent and powerful VR technology has led to a lot of amazing experiences but in some cases it still feels like we’re struggling to really gain our balance.

Familiar isn’t necessarily bad though as some of the best games ever made are more iterative than innovative after all. Gunheart, the cooperative multiplayer shooter debut from new VR game studio Drifter Entertainment doesn’t seem to be breaking any new ground, but is looking to add enough polish onto an already proven concept to keep gamers coming back to their Rifts and Vives for months on end.

I got the chance to try out an early build of the game and play a bit of multiplayer with members from the team. The lobby area that loaded up felt appropriately ripped right out of the cantina scenes from the Star Wars films and made me feel immediately at home.

There was a circular bar in the middle with different attractions spread around, such as a corner that let me join games, as well as a small gallery of enemy models to inspect. Getting up close made me uncomfortable because of how detailed and grotesque they were. Drifter has even built social tools such as voxel painting in the air and the ability to make balloons shoot from a handheld device to add a bit of levity to the game’s otherwise grim tone.

When we booted into the match I had two items in my hand. One was your standard sci-fi pistol while the other was a revive tool. Reaching behind my back with the left hand allowed me to switch weapons, swapping the revive tool for a handheld crossbow, but this was no ordinary crossbow. After firing this weapon I was able to curve the arrow through the air and control its trajectory which is perfect for hitting enemies behind cover.

As it stands the only form of locomotion in the game is a point and click teleportation system. I can either beam myself to a spot immediately or use the analog stick to aim the direction I’d face, just like the default controls in games like Robo Recall and Arizona Sunshine. I’d have liked the option of full locomotion, but that doesn’t seem to be on the agenda at this time.

Ray Davis, co-founder of Drifter, told me they are embracing teleportation as a “superpower” for characters in the game so it’s ingrained as a key part of the experience at this time. It works great as intended, but after playing games like Farpoint, which feature similar cooperative multiplayer elements, I felt restricted not being able to maneuver around the battlefield without pointing to teleport somewhere.

Luckily the combat itself feels fantastic. Each of the weapons I tried have satisfying feedback and feel unique. As a special weapon I can even hold both guns out in front of me and let them meld together to create a massive bow in my hands. Pulling back the string and firing an arrow this way felt incredibly powerful.

I only got to play a single mission in my demo, it was short, and it mostly unfolded like a glorified wave shooter. I’d move from one area to the next, killing groups of enemies until they were all dead, then moving to the next area. The level had a lot of layers and verticality, which helped alleviate the sense of repetition. Overall though it did feel shallow.

Davis alluded to other game modes that will be included when the game releases, which should add more variety, but the early demo I tried failed to really grab my attention with regards to anything other than the polish and tenacity of its core gameplay mechanics. There were only two enemy types on display: infantry units that could flutter through the air as aliens with wings and tiny bugs that buzzed around in the air. I never really felt in danger.

The team working on Gunheart has an impressive collective resume and is clearly building towards a game that has the potential to be an amazing and collaborative cooperative multiplayer VR shooter. With experience building games like Gears of War and Robo Recall the tendency for polish is there so it just remains to be seen if the experience itself will hold up over the long haul.

For more details about Drifter Entertainment and Gunheart you can watch the announcement trailer at the start of this post and check out the company’s official website right here.

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  • 1droidfan

    I like the honesty and candidness on the games weaknesses I’ve read recently on this site but I wonder how many early previews will be sent this way after getting harsh criticism. Most sites tend to give glowing previews and then once everyone gets suckered into pre-ordering the game, lets loose with both cannons on the full review.

    • Everything we write here is honest — it’s our job 🙂 My intention wasn’t to be overly negative or harsh at all, it’s constructive feedback based on the demo I played. That being said, I don’t even think this preview is that negative. The game has a lot of potential and I just hope it can live up to it is all.

    • I agree with you….

  • Mane Vr

    “As it stands the only form of locomotion in the game is a point and click teleportation system” I stop reading right here this is a no buy for me

    • Roger Bentley

      Loll same here the second it said point and click i stopped

  • towblerone

    The only good bug is a dead bug!

  • SandmaN

    “I’m doing my part!”

  • jimrp

    Please put in option for movement.

  • wheeler

    Looks great!

    But devs, it’s no longer 2016. We need a smooth locomotion option!

    • koenshaku

      People stopped getting motion sick in 2016? Speak for yourself I don’t touch Pavlov anymore because of motion sickness >_>

      • wheeler

        It wasn’t implied that people have stopped getting sick. I’m saying we need the option. Because for those of us that can tolerate smooth locomotion (let’s say it’s 50% of us but realistically it’s much higher when you take into account those that can adjust) the experience is so much better that it’s often not even worth bothering with teleportation games (for which a smooth locomotion option is natural). Likewise for those that can’t tolerate smooth locomotion and getting sick.

        Developers need to support both forms of locomotion if both forms are applicable to the game or I expect they will lose a significant number of sales. This will be especially true as the medium matures and consumers start being more selective about content rather than the current situation where everyone is starving for it. You can’t design for the least common denominator when the player bases don’t overlap. Consumers aren’t going to waste their time in either case.

        Also, doesn’t Pavlov have a locomotion option for those that can’t tolerate smooth locomotion? Something like you paint on the ground where you want your player model to move to, the model walks to that location, and then your viewport is teleported to that location?

        • koenshaku

          I agree that the option is cool, I think of much smaller percent of people would outright reject works based on teleportation, but that is neither here nor there. As far as Pavlov goes when I played it there was no such option it was like a CS VR game.

        • KUKWES

          the option is cool but they also need to make changes on how the AI reacts to the changes.

        • I’ve gotta totally agree. Already, I refuse to buy games that use *teleportation-only* because I don’t get motion sickness and feel that games that play that way are more disruptive to the immersive effects of VR than simply getting over a 30 second warm-up to acclimate myself. Once a person is used to using VR regularly, provided they aren’t motion-sickness-prone, it doesn’t take long at all to adjust to dropping into a new environment.

          Personally, I play Resident Evil 7 and Farpoint with smooth turning engaged and set about like I’d set it for any 2D FPS paced slower than Doom (2016) –roughly 70% acceleration; very fast motion to keep up with my skill level, because I’ve been playing video games for over 35 years. That last part may be key however… I had the slow ramp up over the years of playing 2D systems in the dark, sitting up close on big screens with games like Descent (1, 2, 3), Forsaken, Freespace (1, 2), Star Lancer, Wing Commander, and so on. I’m also a game collector, so as one can imagine, I’ve clocked countless hours acclimating to various types of systems. VR, for me, feels more like a natural progression that’s coming later to market than I would have liked… but I’ll take it anyway, regardless of whether the first few years are rough for early adopters or not, because that’s just part of being a life-long hardcore gamer. Either your in, or your not. If you’re going to race cars for a living, you don’t complain about driving too fast. If you’re a hardcore gamer moving on to VR, you don’t complain about the rush in the pit of your stomach, but rather embrace it, about like a person learning to skydive has to learn to embrace that sensation if they ever want to be any good at it. In the end, it all comes down to the individual.

          The same way that not everyone is an olympic athlete, not everyone is ready to run with the big dogs in VR –but that doesn’t mean that those of us with the ability should be sold a watered down experience just because some of the amateur-users can’t hold their lunch down. If you can’t handle the roller-coaster, that shouldn’t mean that no one else can ride it. It’s really backward as hell to me that developers don’t realize that by default –that some people simply can’t handle things the way others can…. it’s no big mystery, it’s just conditioning in most cases, and in a few, biology.

    • İ agree….

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    • NooYawker

      Every game should have the option for full locomotion. I don’t fully have my VR legs but I like to play with full motion as much as I can. The experience is so much better.

  • Token2k8

    As long as it does better locomotion than GORN on steam. The default move scheme for that to me was pretty rough. They added thumbstick movement but it actually was the first game I’ve played that made me feel woozy.