Virtual reality is slowly but surely expanding into gaming, and Survios' latest games, The Walking Dead: Onslaught and Battlewake, are proof that VR still has a future in this industry. Last year, Survios showcased Creed: Rise to Glory at E3, inspired by Warner Bros.' recent Creed films, but this year, they decided to move away from the sports arena and into fantasy and science fiction with their upcoming zombie and pirate-themed titles.
Based on AMC's The Walking Dead TV series (rather than Skybound's comics), The Walking Dead: Onslaught drops players into the walker-infested world and allows them to live out their zombie-killing dreams as Rick, Carol, Michonne, or Daryl. Since it's an officially licensed game, this might be the closest experience people will have to live through AMC's post-apocalyptic universe.
In a brief hands-on demo at E3 2019, Screen Rant was able to test out various aspects of Onslaught, including the game's many weapons, which include a machete, pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, and even Negan's barbed-wire bat Lucille. Players will find themselves switching between practically all those weapons in order to defeat the hordes of walkers they encounter. Of course, shooting a weapon will draw more walkers, and a stray bullet might cause an explosion if the player hits a fuel canister. That's fine because the best part of The Walking Dead: Onslaught is its combat.
Getting users to experience the action up close and personal is at the heart of what makes VR games special, and that concept is very much evident in The Walking Dead: Onslaught. Survios' fluid locomotion works wonderfully (which is done by holding down the A and Y buttons and swinging your arms to move forward), but the most intriguing aspect is the combat system. In addition to the gore and utter carnage, Onslaught was developed with dynamic dismemberment in mind. That means players can chop off a walker's limbs using a machete similar to how Michonne does, or impale them, in which case they would react accordingly. You can even carve your name into a walker's body if you wanted to, which highlights Survios' "gore mesh".
Sure, killing zombies isn't anything new in games, and there aren't too many ways players can go about doing that. However, what does change in The Walking Dead: Onslaught is what happens to the walkers. Zombies typically fall and die in most games (not just in VR), but in Onslaught, a player's machete can get stuck in the walker if they strike at a specific angle or with enough force. Walkers can be completely dismembered, carved into, and destroyed using any and all weapons. Players can even grab a hold of and push away walkers if they get too close. All of this is done to heighten the intensity of Survios' new zombie game - and it's great, to an extent.
A lot of the pitfalls experienced in many VR games are washed away in The Walking Dead: Onslaught, which appears to harness all of what made Survios' previous games great. Flimsy aiming and glitchy controls are kept to a minimum, even at this stage in development. Weapon accuracy, movement, and melee combat have been refined to be, seemingly, as good as they can be. But one of the aspects of The Walking Dead: Onslaught that may frustrate players is being stuck in situations. Not being able to move and shoot at the same time using the locomotion system, especially when being overrun by a horde of walkers, could result in death.
While The Walking Dead: Onslaught appears to be a culmination of everything that makes Survios' games unique, Battlewake throws all of that out the window and gives VR enthusiasts an exciting pirate adventure to play through. However, that adventure is done by standing still and using only a few controls in the end. It's not about being the hero of a story but rather using the ship's crew and abilities to conquer the seas and become a pirate legend. In that regard, Battlewake excels at being undeniably fun.
Battlewake's art style has more in common with Sea of Thieves than it does with Ubisoft's upcoming Skull & Bones game, but unlike both of those titles, you don't need to worry about which direction the wind is blowing or how fast your ship can move so that you can escape the enemy. A strategy is involved, sure, but your goal as the player is to defeat the enemy at any cost - whether that's in PvE or PvP (there should be both modes at release).
Ultimately, it feels like Survios made a pirate-themed game modeled after drive-by shootings (though, thankfully, only in concept). You always have one hand on the wheel so you can continue to steer the ship away from rocks, islands, and enemy bombardments, while using the other hand to shoot at the enemy ships or creatures. Then, if you find yourself in the line of fire or needing to turn quickly, you can drop the anchor and essentially drift the ship. (Imagine: Johnny Depp's maneuver in Pirates of the Caribbean 5.) Drifting a ship and taking out a boss with a barrage of cannon shots is certainly satisfying, but perhaps one of the greatest parts of the Battlewake is unleashing the Kraken - one of Pirate Lords' special abilities - which completely annihilates everything in its vicinity.
Although our demo primarily showcased Battlewake's fundamental gameplay - driving the ship (which uses a fluid locomotion system to avoid making players seasick), taking out enemies, using the Pirate Lord's ultimate ability, and so forth - Survios' plan for Battlewake as a whole is rooted in customization. Every part of the ship has different weapons that can be upgraded, for instance. The goal is to make sure players can become the greatest Pirate Lord they can be, and to have an arsenal at their disposal to make it happen. If you've wanted to play Sea of Thieves in VR, but without worrying about the little details, then Battlewake is for you.