Epic Games’ Robo Recall
Epic Games, CGI
Viewing System: Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch
“Robo Recall” is an intense action, first-person shooting game that succeeds in delivering a highly immersive and entertaining VR experience. The game gracefully tailors creative UI solutions for known challenges in current VR functionality and leverages the Oculus hardware’s strengths to capture the medium’s immersive potential.
The game comes from the well-known VR gaming company Epic Games, the creator of the VR game development platform - Unreal Engine. Built exclusively for the Oculus’ platform, “Robo Recall” was released at the beginning of this month. A complementary mod editor will also be released soon to enable users to customize their own game adventures. The game is available for free on Oculus Rift.
The story is set in a futuristic world, where malfunctioning robots that went out of control are raging all over. The player acts as the protagonist who is called in to recall, or more accurately, brutally shutdown, the rogue robots. The choice of a robot-based rather than human-based theme, specifically, fighting mechanical-beings, is intriguing and to some extent depersonalizes the violence and makes it less offensive.
The game is based on a highly realistic interactive CGI environment, built on the Unreal Engine, that requires of the user a high level of physical movement, leveraging the Oculus Touch controllers’ full potential. The graphics realism is impressive. Starting from the overall visuals, through the granular level of details in the scenery and to the highly reliable scale of proportions of the virtual world. The auditory experience is also realistic and enhances the immersive quality of the game by leveraging great surround sound effects. Accompanying narration by the hero’s AI assistant advances the plot forward. This AI assistant narration also adds a comic angle to the game through making humorous background comments throughout the game.
As for the game play, “Robo Recall” does an extraordinary job of alleviating the inherent hardware drawbacks by using a creative story and user experience design. For example, the use of teleportation for navigation is interwoven into the game’s storyline as part of the player’s combat toolkit. The Touch joystick enables the player to easily and accurately control four degrees of freedom in space: three spatial dimensions to set the end-point location and an additional one to set the avatar’s facing direction. This use of teleportation is very intuitive and effective in eliminating any motion sickness.
The concept of teleportation is also used to ease the player’s interaction with weapons. Instead of messing with multiple handset buttons for changing weapons and loading ammunition, the player can discard used weapons and easily grab a fresh, teleported weapon from the holster. Another nice element of the game is its time-slowing feature when the player is being shot at. This ‘Matrix’-like effect enhances the player’s sense of engagement and offers an additional level of interaction with the game, such as the ability to deflect bullets.
“Robo Recall” is one of the most engaging and immersive VR experiences I have had the chance to try. The game leverages the full potential of the Oculus Touch gun-like trigger design by combining realistic physical movements to control the game and elegant solutions to overcome the existing VR hardware limitations. This mix delivers an experience that will leave the user sweaty, highly alert, and pumped with adrenaline.