Hands-On: Arrowborn Feels Like The Ultimate PvP Archery Game

by David Jagneaux • July 27th, 2018

After I played Longbow in The Lab on HTC Vive over two years ago the first thing that came to my mind is that I really, really wanted to shoot other people in VR with a bow and arrow. Well, here we go: it’s real and it’s called Arrowborn.

To date, shooting a bow and arrow is still one of my favorite things to do inside of a VR headset. Games like QuiVR and Twisted Arrow have done a great job of making it feel really good, but none of those are competitive. oVRshot exists, but it’s a decidedly sci-fi take with small, tactical maps. I want a fantasy-themed competitive bow and arrow adventure. Skyrim VR is fine, but I want to shoot real players.

After spending some time with Arrowborn before it hit Early Access this week (you can see some highlights of footage up above) I can’t wait to see how this game evolves over the next few months. It’s already got a ton of arrow types, build options, and a solid number of vast levels. You can move around freely via smooth locomotion and jump through the air in slow-motion like Legolas. Landing a 180-degree slow-motion aerial headshot in VR is a very special kind of power fantasy.

Some of the arrow types are what you’d expect from this kind of game and some of them are extremely creative. For example, there’s a vampire arrow that heals you when you hit someone with it, but then there’s also your typical fire arrow. We’ve got a mine arrow that blows up after a short time, and your standard ice arrow. There’s an arrow that pops a shield when it hits the ground, and one that creates a healing mist on location. Some are built for free-for-all battles while others work better when used as part of a team.

Switching arrows is simple — you just press the quiver button, grab the arrow you want, nock it, and release. You’ve got a mana meter that prevents you from spamming the powerful ones too much, but your limit on standard arrows is just how fast you can move your arms.

In addition to all of the different arrow types they’ve also got different crystals to augment your build. Depending on which crystal you select you may have more health but less mana, for example. All together it’s a really robust and deep system that ensures everyone is going to be playing quite a bit differently.

There’s a standard free-for-all game mode, team deathmatch, a shooting range, and bots that you can load into the game. Oddly enough I was a horrible shot in the shooting range, but absolutely decimated my enemies in actual free-for-all. Perhaps my eyes need a human head as a target to satiate my blood-thirst?

Visually, Arrowborn isn’t going to blow anyone away. Kung Fu Robots is a very small development team and while the game certainly looks and plays fine, the stylized visuals aren’t for everyone. However, hopefully this means less time spent on polishing ultra-realistic settings and more time working on new content while it’s in Early Access.

Mechanically actually shooting the bow feels excellent. There are tons of sliders and features in the options to tweak it so everything is just right for your preferences too. The inclusion of smooth locomotion is great, but honestly I didn’t use it much. It’s way more fun to leap through the air in giant, wide arcs while shooting than moving slowly on the ground.

Arrowborn is already off to a good start in the VR community with extremely positive reception on Reddit so far. On the road map they’ve got plans to add cosmetic items like helmets you can earn and equip, a new wave-based defense co-op mode, an objective-based multiplayer mode, daily challenges to keep people coming back, and even more maps.

If you’re interested in giving Arrowborn a shot (pun intended) then you can check it out in Early Access on Steam right now with support for both Rift and Vive for $14.99. Let us know what you think of the game down in the comments below!

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