Remember that cryptic teaser that Oculus and Sanzaru Games (VR Sports Challenge, Marvel Powers United VR) posted last week about an upcoming new game? Well, we now know that game is called Asgard’s Wrath and it’s frankly remarkable that it’s been kept under wraps for so long. In a blog post today Mike Doran, Oculus Studios Executive Producer, outlines the vision for what sounds like an action-adventure RPG built from the ground-up specifically for VR the likes of which we haven’t seen before.
In Asgard’s Wrath you take on the role of a Norse God with the power to inhabit the bodies of mortals. Throughout the 30+ hour adventure you’ll frequently swap back and forth between the perspectives of a towering God with an epic sense of scale and the perspective of on-the-ground mortal warriors to take advantage of the game’s brutal melee combat.
Watch it in action in the trailer blow:
According to Doran in the blog post, Sanzaru has been working on this title “for years” which means it was in development well before Marvel Powers United VR ever was even announced. Since they’re touting over 30 hours of content, at least, the longer development time is definitely a good thing. This is something that both Nate Mitchell and Steve Arnold talked about when I interviewed them last year: 2019 is Oculus’ biggest investment in VR software to date. Games like Asgard’s Wrath aim to proof of that.
It's Been Around For Decades. As a whole, virtual reality is not as new as people think it is. While the exact origin is still a mystery, some people credit 19th century French playwright Antonin Artaud as the creative force behind the concept of virtual reality. By the 20th century, researchers began diving deep into the different elements of virtual reality. Toys like the View Master are often regarded as a primitive version of what virtual reality would later become.
The brief story synopsis according to the blog post is as follows:
“It’s the twilight of the gods, with Asgard’s inhabitants consumed by bickering and selfish exploits. You, Fledgling God, are birthed in an explosion of light—a clash of primordial forces of nature. Your story begins in medias res with a dramatic, action-packed encounter with Loki. He takes great interest in your potential and offers to give you with befitting a true god. Before that can happen, Loki has several requests to test your worthiness. Each revolves around a standalone scenario, or Saga, wherein you must use your powers to help preordained Heroes of the Realms fulfill their destinies.”
Asgard’s Wrath is being described as not just another VR melee physics simulator, which is probably an apt description of Blade and Sorcery. Instead, Sanzaru’s title aims to extrapolate those physics into a full game with a world full of rules that can be leveraged and exploited while you play.
In the screenshot below you can see an example of what Doran describes as “brutally satisfying dismemberment” and I’ve got to say I agree. Watching limbs lop off in the trailer looks grotesquely rewarding and satisfying.
We cannot name the invention of Virtual Reality to a single person. Many people contributed for the growth of VR technology. The five people who played a significant role are Morton Heilig, Jaron Lanier, Douglas Engelbart, Ivan Sutherland, and Myron Krueger.
“One of my favorite things to do in-game is to use a shield to ‘catch’ thrown enemy weapons like daggers, yank them out, and throw them right back,” writes Doran. “Another great moment is swinging your weapon to knock decapitated monster heads through the air.”
Going back to a previous statement about switching between God and mortal forms, Sanzaru aims to constantly toy with scale and how it affects you inside a VR experience. When the game was first in development it was actually being designed as a God-mode only game, similar to Giant Cop in terms of scale, but they later decided to add the ability to inhabit mortals for added gameplay variety and just ran with it. Now that’s the cornerstone feature of the entire experience.
You’ll have to swap down to mortal form to perform much of the melee combat you see in the screenshots and in the trailer as well as to solve puzzles. With a litany of quests, sidequests, and more they’re aiming to deliver something with AAA-quality scale and production values.
According to an Oculus representative that 30+ hour mark isn’t just a generous estimate, but a real content threshold they’ve hit. A single playthrough just going through the content in a mostly linear fashion will net close to that number with lots of repeatable and collectible portions to add even more time for the completionist crowd.
The Military Is Using It. It turns out that the U.S. military is totally loving virtual reality. The Army, the Navy, and the Air Force have all used virtual reality in the past few years to train their soldiers. Keep in mind that this is not a game but a real training for some intense military action, including flying, medical training, fighting in the battlefield, and driving as well. The military is also reportedly using virtual reality in getting new recruits.
At the very end of the blog post Doran also alludes to an “asynchronous multiplayer” feature, but ends things before going any further. If I had to guess, I’d assume there will be a way for a non-VR player to control mortals while the VR player is up above in a headset. But it could be anything at this point.
You can count me specifically, the guy that added over 100 mods to Skyrim in an attempt to make it as immersive as possible, extremely excited for a massive, sprawling 30+ hour built-for-VR RPG. Between this, Defector, and Stormland, plus whatever Respawn is working on, the Rift has a strong slate of exclusive titles for this year.
Asgard’s Wrath will be playable at GDC 2019 in March, so we won’t have to wait long to see how the brutal melee combat and Godly powers of Norse mythology play out in VR. Check back with us here at UploadVR for more as we inch closer to release later this year.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below!
Tagged with: Asgard's Wrath, norse, rpg, Sanzaru Games