‘Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale’ Could Be the ‘Hunger Games’ Style VR Shooter You’ve Been Waiting For

by David Jagneaux • May 19th, 2016

Everyone has been asking ever since VR headsets started getting into consumer’s hands: where is the big, must-have, first-person shooter for VR? It’s a logical question. A technology that is able to believably transport the user into another world, with full head-tracking, room scale adaptation, and in some cases motion control support, of course the most popular video game genre seems like a natural fit.

Islands of Nyne building screenshot

Building the Foundation

There is a lot of difficulty associated with adapting the shooter genre to VR, however. For one thing, the speed of gameplay is quite literally difficult to stomach for most people. Motion sickness is a huge concern and there aren’t many workarounds for it other than just “don’t play it if you can’t,” but that’s hardly a solution.

Additionally, many shooters utilize the full compliment of traditional gamepads, requiring dexterity between dual analog sticks, four triggers, four face buttons, and more. Contrast that to the standing or room-scale experience of the Vive, or the Oculus Touch, and you may run into some issues porting that over.

Nevertheless, that appears to be the mission of Define Human Studios, the team behind the recently launched Kickstarter project game, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale. In just a few short days, with over three weeks remaining, they’ve managed to acquire nearly 75% of their $40,000 target funding amount as of the time of this writing.

Islands of Nyne is aiming to inject a fresh boost of adrenaline into the arm of the PvP battle royale survival sub-genre of games that have recently started popping up. Players will drop into a map and start scavenging for weapons and supplies. The goal is to be the last person standing at the end, as the map slowly shrinks to funnel players towards the center for an epic final standoff. No respawns, no extra lives. Examples like The Culling or H1Z1: King of the Kill look to be the most direct competition in terms of general design considerations.

What really sets Islands of Nyne apart however, is the attention to detail in offering additional features. For starters, matches are aiming to support up to 100 players simultaneously. That’s nuts. We haven’t seen numbers like that in a shooter outside of the PS3 exclusive MAG and the current PS4 and PC MMO shooter, Planetside 2. How they can sustain that many people all in-game, especially when some are in VR, at the same time remains to be seen.

They’re also promising a detailed ranking system, three different maps that offer unique environments and strategies, and the ability to bet on other players – three things sorely missing from most of Islands of Nyne’s contemporaries.

Islands of Nyne VR alpha

Adapting for Virtual Reality

One thing you’ll notice is that Islands of Nyne will not be exclusive to VR by any means, as it is coming to Early Access for standard PC gamers as well. However, the team at Define Human seem awfully adamant about making the VR version of the game the absolute best that it can be, stating that it will be “fundamentally different” than the standard PC version. For example, you don’t often see developers reach out to Reddit just to ask for ideas and suggestions when bringing the game into VR. It’s certainly a good sign.

The only mention of VR on the Kickstarter page is that they are, “currently working on a VR version of Islands of Nyne which is included in the Steam Early Access digital copy. However it will be released at a later date and will be compatible with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.” However, looking to the Reddit thread, we can glean some more details about the VR version of the game.

The team are especially big fans of Hover Junkers and the Half-Life 2 VR Training mod, also stating, “we’ll most likely scale the arenas down to something like ⅙ of their size and possibly limit player count as well. It seems that no one’s figured out a good system for walking around huge levels without having to teleport.”

Islands of Nyne Featured Image

Islands of Nyne is in development using the Unreal Engine 4 and the team is actually collaborating with HELM Systems, developers of The SoulKeeper VR, to iron out some of the VR kinks in the project. While they do plan on offering Rift and Vive support according to the Kickstarter, the Reddit thread goes one step further to say that, “frankly, the controllers are such a big part of the experience that we’re not even bothering with the Rift until we get our hands on the Touch.”

The non-VR standard PC version is planned to hit Steam Early Access by the end of 2016, with Mac and VR versions coming next year.

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