Hands-On: ‘Crossout’ On Rift And Touch Was The Best Game I Played At Gamescom
It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you I absolutely loved playing Gaijin Entertainment’s Crossout in VR. Why? Because the developer isn’t entirely sure it’s even going to release the support, and it certainly won’t be any time soon.
That’s a real shame; I had a blast with this early tech demo, which sampled how this car combat game’s customization and gameplay might work with both the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. If you didn’t already know, Crossout lets you construct your very own death mobile with an impressive level of agency. Not only can you pick between different guns, blades and explosives, but you also get to choose where they’re placed on your car. You might decide to protect all sides with an army of chainsaws, for example, or turn yourself vehicle into a gun-touting engine that would make the cast of Twisted Metal weep.
Think of it as Pimp My Ride, if Pimp My Ride was set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the only way to ensure your survival is to appear as threatening as possible.
When I put on the Rift, I find myself straight in front of a miniaturized vehicle template. It’s one of those great VR train set moments; I’ve played Crossout as a 2D game and bringing its rusty, battle-worn models into VR practically begs me to lean in and look around. Surrounding me are the instruments of destruction I can fit to my vehicle, appearing almost as if they were accessories for action figures that were about to chop each other’s limbs off.
With the Rift as my welding mask I set to work pulling out wheels and replacing them with bigger ones, resisting the urge to cackle like a mad scientist as I pepper the roof of my car with machine guns. The Touch controls are as intuitive as ever as I effortlessly pluck spikes from their position and replace them with guns. As soon as my model looks as impractically violent as possible, I’m able to jump into a match with the press of a button.
That brings about Crossout‘s other big change in VR; first-person cockpit gameplay. Previously I’ve only played the game with the third-person camera, but inside the Rift I’m sitting in the driver’s seat and suddenly realizing it might not have been the best idea to clog up my window with the biggest, sharpest, pointiest things I could find.
I’m also driving using the the Touch controllers which is a first for me. You essentially simulate holding a wheel with both hands like you might have as a child, similar to Mario Kart on the Wii, throwing your arms back and forth to pull off sharp turns. I’d often considered this control scheme for VR driving games, but had assumed it probably wouldn’t work out. In reality, I actually found this to be pretty intuitive and much more immersive than I would have anticipated. It may be that sticking to a control stick is the more responsive and ultimately better control scheme — not that this would be a problem for Touch — but it was certainly fun to try out this alternative.
With my car ready, I headed into an arena to take part in glorious combat, fully prepared to crush my foes with my instrument of total and utter annihilation. As soon as I was past the gates I eyed up one opponent brashly rushing towards me, clearly begging to taste the spinning saw I’d placed on the front of my ride. I lined myself up and began my charge, confident this game of chicken would end with my enemy’s feathers shredded.
Then I blew up.
Okay, so it turned out my foe had some dynamite attached to the end of a very long pole and he’d managed to land a devastating one-hit kill on me. A little unfair, I thought, but then I realized that I too could put one of these sticks on my own car. And so I kitted it out with long explodey things, made sure to give myself a better view out of my window, and then headed into the arena once more, this time determined to make metal fly.
My results were better; it took me about twice as long to die. But all the same, I got to spend a brilliant few minutes locked in battle, circling around other cars as I looked for an open window to jump in, introduce them to a side-mounted chainsaw and then run away. One of the great things about Crossout is that everything you put on your car can be taken off again by the enemy. One combatant made swift work of my wheels with a spinning drill, for example, so I was forced to simply sit and shoot in a last ditched attempt to be the last man standing.
That did present a few issues, though. Firstly, it’s hard to tell if your turrets are actually hitting the enemy from the first-person view, which could be better communicated through the game’s UI. There was also a jarring disconnect between any bump or hit I made in VR and feeling nothing in the real world, which is a problem without much of an answer right now. Still, neither of these points was enough to take the smile away from my face as I continued to dive in and out of the workshop, making tweaks like adding speakers to my car, or placing a skull on the hood to warn everyone that I was a serious fan of cliches.
To put it simply; I had a blast playing Crossout in VR.
So why can I not assure you it’s definitely going to release? Simply because Gaijin still wants to work some of these issues out and doesn’t want to commit the game to VR’s small install base right now. The best I could get was that it definitely won’t be releasing this year, but may arrive at some point in 2017 or even 2018, though the support really didn’t seem like it was two years away from completion.
For now it’s probably worth letting Gaijin know that you’d like to see VR support in Crossout. With your help it might just happen sooner rather than later.