PlayStation VR has arrived and with it, one of the earlier shown titles that looked to be one of its flagship launch games. Developer Guerrilla Cambridge did a fantastic job not only creating a fantastic game but one with depth and replayability which is sparse among the PS VR launch lineup.
NOTE: The limited view in the gameplay screenshots is a setting to reduce motion sickness. You do have the option to turn it off and have a complete field of view.
RIGS is a three on three mech combat game that sees you battling other teams in several different match types. There are four classes of mechs: Sentinel, Hunter, Mirage and Tempest. Sentinels are the bulkiest and slowest mechs which hit the hardest. Hunters are smaller and faster but have less health but can deal a lot of damage. Mirages are a sort of middle ground while also being the only class with a double jump. Lastly Tempests are the smallest mechs but can hover in the air providing intel to their team while raining down gunfire. Each class feels drastically different to play and each bring something to the team composition. It took me a couple of matches to adjust to the Sentinel’s slower and more brute force mechanics coming over from my Mirage class mech, but luckily there is a practice arena that you can mess around in.
When you are in the middle of a match, all mechs have three modes that can be switched between. One is an increased movement speed mode, one increases your damage and one repairs your mech. This adds another tactical layer especially in objective modes using the speed mode to rush in, switch to the increased damage mode to clear the field, pick up the ball and repair yourself before switching back to speed mode to try and score. Once you score three kills, you will enter a brief Overdrive mode which has all three modes active at once which can help swing a match.
Each class also has different weapons as well from smart missiles, to double machine guns and lasers. Not only this but there are further subclasses of mechs with abilities. For example, mechs with the Engineer ability disrupt enemy radar and heal nearby allies. And within that subclass, there is one of each of the four classes of mech leaving you open to try new abilities without being locked into one specific type of rig. There are six of these subclasses overall allowing you to truly tailor to your personal playstyle including the Nuke ability (leaving behind a bomb when you die) or the Vampire ability (restoring all of your health on a successful kill).
While you will get one free mech up front, the rest will cost you in game currency which you earn by playing matches. You earn enough currency at a rate to where unlocking new rigs is quick without feeling too easy to buy everything. Keep in mind that there is a basic version of all four main classes of rig that you can try out for free before you make any investments.
Once you are in the game, RIGS takes great advantage of the VR experience. You feel like you are in the cockpit of a mech running around and taking out opponents. You use the Dualshock 4 and move with the left stick and aim with your head as to where you want to fire. There are two change of view options as well: one where moving your head moves your view around or one where you can use the right stick to move your view. You still use your head to aim in either mode and it’s nice they give you an option. For me, the right stick method works well, but I’ve seen plenty of people prefer the first method. RIGS does a good job of giving you options to limit the amount of motion sickness that you might get. Personally, I still have not gotten motion sickness from this game while I have from other games like Scavenger’s Odyssey from PS VR Worlds. With any launch VR game, I can’t stress enough to try it out on the demo disc that comes with the unit before you purchase the game if the game is there.
Story and Modes:
There’s not much story here. The back of the box says that this is the popular sport 50 years in the future, but that’s about as much narrative as you get which is fine. This is meant to be an arena multiplayer game. One surprise that I had was that there is a single-player season mode where you try to help your team climb the divisions to win the title. This consists of 10 matches per season rotating through all three modes. Since it is single-player, you have to hire two AI teammates to tag along for matches. While the early pilots are free, others will cost you a portion of your match winnings but will be in better RIGS so there is a nice balance depending on how much you feel like you can carry the team if you want as much money as possible.
The game consists of three modes: Team Takedown, Endzone and Powerslam. Team Takedown is your basic team deathmatch. Endzone basically acts as a kind of capture the flag or oddball game mode where there is a ball on the map that must be dropped off in your opponent’s endzone. You can pass the ball to teammates and coordinate offensive pushes and defensive holds. This is surprisingly intense and taking down an enemy rig right before they cross your endzone is exhilarating. The final mode is Powerslam. In this mode, you will need to “dunk” yourself in a central hoop, once you have entered Overdrive mode which nets you a point. All three modes are fun and addictive and have not become old yet.
There are also sponsorships that you can take part in. You can always have an online and offline sponsorship active and these net you rewards often in terms of your character customization with new helmets, uniforms, visors and more. Winning matches also nets you fame which will allow you to hire better pilots as well as unlock additional customization such as new MVP animations.
Lastly, my time with online play has been mostly good. There is also a division system that you advance through to try and get to the top. Getting into three on three matches doesn’t take too long, however, the PS VR is new and with a small install base, some modes such as the one on one mode took a long time to be matched up with someone. However, when I was in the matches, the connection was smooth with no latency issues whatsoever.
Visuals and Sound:
I can’t quite nail down what it is about the art style of the game, but it is awesome. The different rigs look awesome and the variations on each for each ability look great as well. The arenas themselves are also gorgeous with locations in Nevada, Dubai, Macau and Rio de Janeiro. Each have enough variation to give them their own unique feel. The main menu that you navigate also looks great with people walking around the facility giving it a sense of being alive and active. While the PS VR is weaker than the other two major headsets on the market, RIGS still looks great. It can be a little blurry at times looking at things far in the distance, but it isn’t severe enough to impact gameplay.
From a sound perspective, the motion of the RIGS and the impact of the weapons sound great. The announcer, while not very memorable, does add a nice layer to the sports atmosphere to immerse you in the match. Your crew chief is good at helping you out, but can get a little repetitive over time.
Cockpit games are going to be big on PS VR because, from a first person viewpoint, it makes a lot of sense. In the launch lineup alone we see this with Eve: Valkyrie and the aforementioned Scavenger’s Odyssey within PS VR to name a couple. But the competitive and sports aesthetic helps RIGS develop an identity of its own and run with it.
The launch of PS VR has seen a wide variety of prices for games. RIGS is $49.99 and, in my opinion, it is worth it. The gameplay loop is so good along with both online and a single-player season mode, this is one of the most fully-featured launch games for the device. The last time I was this addicted to a gameplay loop saw me put dozens of hours into Overwatch. While this game isn’t as deep as Blizzard’s offering, there is enough to hold your attention. If you have taken the dive and have a PS VR, this is one of its killer apps.