Admittedly, I am not a huge gamer, but I do indulge on occasion. When I do play, it is usually because I am a sucker for a good FPS with nice graphics. When I heard about ARKTIKA .1, the highly anticipated new VR game from 4A Games, the creators of the Metro series, I was super excited to give it a go.
While there are a lot of VR games on the market, there are only a handful of well designed, FPS shooters, that go much deeper than a limited experience demo or beta. ARKTIKA .1 promised to fill that void and I was pleased with the results.
The game is based in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic ice age, where you play a mercenary with the job of protecting the ARKTIKA .1 base in Vostok, Russia. The base is overrun by swearing bandits, monsters called “Yagas,” drones and renegade robots, which appear throughout the base’s sublevels.
With the help of your navigator, Victoria, you take on multiple missions using a nice arsenal of customizable pistols to teleport to different shooting positions to achieve your objective for each level in order to earn credits for better firepower.
Each level is filled with challenges, puzzles, easter eggs and a plethora of creepy visual effects which make for a solid immersive experience.
While the story and purpose were clear, I definitely felt that there could have been more available to let the player dig deeper. I would have been nice to be able to develop more attachment to the players, the cause, the history, and whatnot. There is a story about Victoria which does offer a bit more background, but again, I was left with the feeling of wanting more.
The gameplay is pretty relaxed. Since it could be termed as a wave-based shooter with no free roaming, (only teleporting) each step through a level provides an exciting, yet casual shooting experience. While some might take the lack of free roaming as a negative, me being more of a casual gamer, found it pleasant and fun. I’ll have to admit though that I really wanted to go exploring at times, so it definitely left me wanting more freedom.
Despite the limited movement, there is still plenty of surprises and places to duck, dodge and gain strategic positioning. The game supports standing room scale, which I would highly recommend making some space to play. I made the mistake of starting the game while sitting at my desk and resulted in there being a lot of critical items that were out of my reach. I had to reset my play area for a larger space in order to progress to new levels and couldn’t even reach my new weapons on the table until I did so. Again, definitely make some space.
Leveling up is pretty easy and upgrading your weapons offers a lot to choose from. By the way, a little tip: Don’t forget to holster your weapons before leaving the armory. You might end up in a shootout with nothing but your fingers… not saying I did this of course… ehem… just letting you know in case… you know…
- Easy gameplay and a comfortable user experience
- Awesome graphics
- Very comfortable level of movement with a low nausea factor even when teleporting.
- Lots of me feeling that I want more and I will definitely continue playing.
- Cool VR in VR training scenario.
- Beautiful game intro and a lot of animation which gives you the feeling that they are pushing some boundaries.
- Shooting things is satisfying and the weapon upgrades make it a real joy even in the training areas just to stand and shoot dummies and bottles.
- Lots of important items are out of reach. I had to play with my sensors and reset my play area a few times to get the right radius in order to reach everything.
- Holstering your weapons was often difficult and I often dropped my weapons or had trouble drawing them at critical times.
- Not enough back story
- Not enough opportunity to explore
- I wished Victoria was sassier. She didn’t even react when I threw things at her.
- I felt a bit claustrophobic at times. Having limited FOV in VR, then being inside a jeep, which is driving into tunnels made me sweat a lot. I would like to see more open area gameplay out in the snow. maybe it is there in the upper levels, but I didn’t see it yet.
Overall, I loved the game and again, it’s beautifully designed. I still didn’t finish all the levels but I definitely feel compelled to continue playing and look forward to how things progress.
Sean Earley is the podcast host and Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine, Modern Musician Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development, PR and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.