Hubris is a stunning new title coming to PC VR later this year and we’ve gone hands-on once again – this time with more combat.
At Gamescom, I played through two Hubris demos – the opening sequence and a new sequence set a few hours into the campaign, which puts a much heavier focus on combat. We’ve already covered the former in another hands-on, so I won’t repeat too much previously-tread ground, except to say that most of Jamie’s conclusions still stand true. Hubris doesn’t quite match the visuals of premier titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Lone Echo II, but it does give them an amazing run for their money. This new combat-focused demo, featuring traversal through a rocky canyon environment, is no exception — it’s equally as delightful to look at as the lush and water-laden environments we’ve seen previously. From both demos, one thing is clear: Hubris is visually stunning and expansive, offering a style and quality that feels shockingly close to juggernauts like Alyx.
In terms of the combat gameplay itself, it was a mixed bag. There are two options for guns – a standard pistol and a slightly more automatic option – that both felt satisfying to fire and aim, with good haptic feedback and a satisfying click-y feel to all the actions. The method for reloading is inventive as well – you simply hold the gun upright next to your head, which gradually reloads your weapon over time. You can choose to partially reload and fire in short bursts, or listen to a well-designed audio cue that indicates the reload progress and will give a distinctive click when the gun is completely full. It’s a great example of intuitive VR design and works wonders in the heat of combat.
You can also restore your health mid-encounter with a similarly thoughtful mechanic – reach over your back, pull out a health drink and physically act out drinking it down. Plus, you can see how much liquid is left inside the bottle, allowing you to only drink a portion if you only need a top-up. Hubris certainly isn’t the first VR game to include this type of mechanic for consuming healing items, but it’s implemented well here.
The combat itself is where things become a little more disappointing. The guns are certainly satisfying to fire and the weapons are fairly engaging to use. However, the AI and the encounter design feels a little lackluster. In my demo, I went up through loads of encounters with the same generic drones and space guard enemies, all set in very similar environments. It’s not that the combat isn’t fun — it certainly is, at first — but after 15 or so minutes doing the same thing, it started to feel repetitive.
This is compounded by the fairly terrible AI, which often would see enemies just stand still or forgot they had even seen me after I retreated back to cover. Some enemies would walk around and search for me, while others would stand in one place and didn’t bother to sought me out. Enemies seems, overall, limited in scope and rarely engaged in combat unless I was in their line of sight. It wasn’t abysmal – I’ve played through a lot worse – but it did feel particularly out of place, given how polished the environments and gameplay are otherwise. It lowers the level of immersion and starts to feel more like a programmed game than a constructed virtual world.
Despite those issues, the combat doesn’t ever stop being fun – it may have been a bit repetitive, but the guns feel satisfying enough to shoot that I still enjoyed myself overall. Between the earlier demo and this new combat-focused one, there’s a lot to love about Hubris, but some areas for improvement too. It will be interesting to see if the game can step out of the shadow of its forebearers and find it’s own place in the PC VR pantheon.
Hubris is set to release in 2022 for PC VR, with a Quest version to follow at a later date.
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