VR games, you remain a medium to be hit or miss. Although I remain optimistic that it is a great way to create great experiences. My Time with Hubris, a VR science fiction game developed by Cyber He was a good example of that
Hubris is a science fiction game developed entirely for virtual reality by Cyborn, a studio from Antwerp with its origins in motion capture. During my time at Gamescom, I played the game for 30 minutes and after the gameplay session I interviewed Ives Agemans. Agemans is the CEO of Cyborn and producer of Hubris as well.
A whole new world
At the beginning of the demo, I was introduced and pulled into the story by a briefing. The first thing I noticed is the graphics, many VR games are still quite behind in this area. The best VR game in my opinion is Half-Life: Alyx but Hubris comes a lot closer. The game looks really nice in virtual reality. What surprised me the most was the facial animation of the character which gave me brevity. Then, during my talk with Ives, he told me that motion capture isn’t a new phenomenon in the studio. In recent years they have already worked on more than 25 projects where motion capture and 3D animation are key. However, many developers within Cyborn have a great passion for games. From this passion came the idea of creating a whole new world with Hubris where not only games but multimedia can grow. Ives also told me that in addition to the VR game, a mini-series is in development to give this universe more depth, and this will be necessary because it will be set in a completely new fantasy world. So the comparison with Star Wars was made quickly.
Towards a twin planet system
This nearly 6-hour game of Hubris will send you on an adventure in the new world of Hubris. As a player, you take on the role of a recruiter in training to become an agent of an Order-Of-Objectivity or OOO group. You and your pilot, Lucia, are sent to the asteroid belt of the Twin Planet system to search for the mysterious agent Cyanha. You will have to use all your agility and strength to survive in the harsh environment and wildlife of a planet being reclaimed. Along the way you will have to fight like a real OOO agent. You learn how to make weapons and control vehicles and machines. You’ll need this because there are other factions looking to unravel the long-forgotten secrets of OOO.
Rough gameplay with potential
After a short and succinct in-game tutorial, I was off this planet. Here I had to find my way on the unknown planet while swimming, jumping, climbing and exploring. Climb and climb as you are used to from virtual reality games and it works intuitively. You can grab the edges and by means of the controllers you can, as it were, drag or move them. In the demo I played, I had to find a way to build a building on top of the planet. To get there I had to swim in the water filled with the jellyfish that had attacked me. I was able to shoot these jellyfish underwater with my rifle and dropped something I needed later to make a rope to cross a ravine. After about 25 minutes of climbing, swimming and shooting jellyfish here and there, I came to the building where I was attacked by some aliens. Here I tasted the fight and it worked really well. The rifle I had quickly became empty, but I was able to reload by hanging it up. The version I played gave me the ability to move around with the joysticks, in part because I had limited space to move around. At the end of the 30 minute demo I felt a little nauseous but this will be different for everyone, motion sickness is still a tricky issue for developers because it’s often personal too. The demo had potential but I wonder how long navigating through levels with climbing, jumping and swimming will still be fun. Ives assured me that there will be more fighting in the full game.
The fact that the studio has a lot of experience capturing motion comes in handy with this game. In my conversation with Ives, he told me that the full game will have a number of scenes where the story unfolds before your eyes. Since you can look around and walk around, this was a huge challenge for the studio because it’s a completely different way of telling, but they’re convinced they’ll work because there’s no shortage of ambition. That’s why I asked if Hubris would also include combat in space and zero gravity. Ives told me those plans are in place but with Hubris the universe will be set up first and will focus on the gameplay I saw in the demo, but these are the ideas they’d like to dig into more deeply in a potential Dive sequel.
Cyborn hopes to launch the game within a few months. The game’s release date is now set for the end of 2022 for PlayStation VR, Steam VR, and Oculus. They expect the Quest 2 and PlayStation VR2 versions to be ready at the beginning of 2023.
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