Virtual reality is a hard thing to get right. Because of this, too many developers either play it safe with a simple design or slap something together without proper testing to test the waters and say that they’ve supported the platform. This has rendered the marketplace a bit of a mess. That’s also why it’s refreshing to see a developer really put their all into creating a fleshed out experience designed to give VR aficionados a meaty experience. Multiverse Entertainment happens to be one of those developers that are putting it all on the line to create a fleshed out world to explore.
The object of their passion is Seeking Dawn, a shooter that allows the player direct control over their character without any of that teleportation nonsense. That alone is enough to help this game stand out among the crowd of other shooters. The developer is marketing this title as a “survival-exploration” game, which wasn’t seen in the demo that I was able to experience.
Instead, what I was able to play was a straightforward shooter where I and a partner explored some untamed plains teaming with tall grass that crawly things loved to hide in. As we made our way through the level, we enjoyed the freedom of movement, easily flanking the enemies and covering each other’s backs. Tall, plant-like monsters would spring from the ground behind my buddy, only to be put down while he perforated a pair of crawlers that that were nipping at my heels. Humanoid aliens jumped from cover to cover, laying down fire to harass us as we gained ground. Through teamwork, we were able to flank from both sides, slicing them down in a hail of cross fire.
As a shooter, there is quite a bit to be excited about. The studio is working hard to create a fantastic experience. In the interest of honesty, however, it should be reported that there is still lots of work to be done. Most important lies in the framerate. The demo’s framerate was stable, but it was also too low for a comfortable virtual reality experience. As I waited, a person playing abruptly gave up, informing the booth attendant of severe motion sickness due to the combination of a lower framerate and the direct controls.
When I took my turn, I could see what he meant. Being lucky enough to have a Vive headset of my own, I have developed a tolerance to the potential for this type of issue and was able to power through. When done, I commented that I could see the problem. Explaining that I was (luckily) fine, I asked about this issue and was told that they were working on content, but the game hasn’t been optimized. It’s refreshing to have a developer own up to an issue instead of argue that the issue wasn’t common, so I wholeheartedly believe this problem will be resolved long before release. Since they were willing to do this, I gave them a couple of quick pointers to help make the rest of the show’s demos more successful (to the Multiverse folks: I’m afraid I might have come across as arrogant, which wasn’t the intent. I really like what you have going and want you to succeed).
Despite a major technical issue that is going to be resolved, Seeking Dawn has the potential to become an addictive and engrossing experience. The environments captured an otherworldly quality that is hard to quantify, while still offering enough grounding in familiar concepts allow for the suspension of disbelief. The monsters were just creepy enough to elicit a fight or flight response without causing the player to want to fling the headset across the room. The act of aiming and shooting worked well, tuned well enough to allow for precision while allowing a bit of leeway for the less coordinated (like me). There is ample reason to keep track of this game as it proceeds through its lengthy development process, as it is highly likely that the final result will be astounding.