Dead & Buried is Oculus Studios' developed for Oculus Rift and designed particularly for the company's touch controllers - And What a better way to do it than to show off its capabilities of OculusTouch controllers to produce more immersive gameplay. Dead and Buried is a Wild West themed first-person shooter. This game features really sumptuous and vivid cartoonish-styled visuals, super smooth frame-rate and intensive, fun and immersive gameplay.
Oculus Studios seems to have placed a great deal of attention to the reloading and shooting mechanics so that it feels fun, authentic, engaging, play and look really cool on the screen. You can spin your pistols and combine that with reloading and fanning to really feel like a real cowboy.
As time went along, we were given much more information about the development of the game, and how the game has become to be a great competitive multiplayer FPS game that boasts some amazing gameplay mechanics, including various motion-control gestures to pick up, draw and reload your weapons. For example, you use your grasp plus horizontal or vertical movement to reload your weapon. If it's your six-colt pistol, you need to use left/right gesture to reload it, and if it's a shotgun, you need to use up/down movement gesture to load the gun shells and get it ready for shooting.
The controller gestures are simple to grasp and don't detract from the FPS shooting experience. This is very important because I've already seen some games that have much more advanced gestures, but for a casual competitive FPS like Dead and Buried, this would be an overkill, so it seems that Oculus Studios made sure that this equilibrium is kept just right, not to complicated, but not too shallow in a way that players won't get the full immersion that the Touch controllers can provide.
In one of the Dead and Buried gameplay videos (see it at the end of the article), you can see a 2-vs-2 match which is taking place in an old Western saloon. There are you and another guy around a table and two other players on the other side of the saloon near the bar. A 1-minute counter runs telling you when the match is going to begin. This is the time when you need to grasp your weapons, reload them and find cover.
The saloon is designed with several areas where players can hide to avoid getting shot. Players can then hide and take a quick look to try to locate their opponent and shoot them down. There are various weapons spawning in different locations in the room which you can pick up and start shooting with. According to the developer, there'll be various weapons available in the game, including among others, a shotgun with two bullets), a dynamite and a grenade launcher. The dynamite and the grenade launchers are anti-camping weapons and were designed to force people to stay mobile if they don't want to get hit. If it wasn't like that, most players would probably have stayed behind cover most of the time.
Aiming in Dead and Buried is also takes some time to adapt to at first. You really need to physically aim to the right place in order to hit your opponent. There is no aiming assist and everything is done using the Oculus Touch controllers. In one of the gameplay videos I did see a laser beam coming out of the revolver pistol, so there is some type of a visual cue to help you in aiming, but nothing like aiming assist thing that you have in consoles. If you have experience in aiming with a real gun, you probably going to nailed it down in the game as well. But fear not, it's very intuitive and most of all, much more enjoyable than using a gamepad or keyboard/mouse controller. The actual physical body movement of the weapon handling really makes you feel more powerful and more in control over your in-game character. The bridge between real and virtual is almost diminished, and you can really feel a very strong sense of presence. It's you inside this cartoonish place, it's you holding these amazing guns, and it's you shooting down your enemies, not just your in-game replica. This is what room-scale VR is all about, and Dead & Buried seems like a really polished game from developers who did their homework to perfect that room-scale experience for maximum enjoyment, tuned and optimized for the FPS genre. I also liked the verticality gameplay, at least in the Saloon level, where players can spawn at the second floor and shoot from that location as well. This helps to create a more strategic gameplay, especially when playing a 2-vs-2 or 3-vs-3 matches. The players avatar are also not highlighted, so sometimes it's hard to locate a player if he is not moving around the map.
The game has cartoonish-styled visuals. Some players might not be a big fan of this art style, but I find this type of art style, specifically in this game, to be more pleasant and fun to watch. It's very vivid and even with a touch of humor that just adds to the overall gameplay experience. Even the weapon design are devised to match the art style, although some of them follow the design of weapons in the real world like the six-chambered revolver for example. I think that many gamers prefer realistic graphics because they have already invested heavily in a high-end gear, so they want game developers will push the graphic fidelity to the limit, rather than developing games with cartoony graphics that can run on a cheaper hardware. Obviously, we don't want the hardware to dictate the art style. I think there is a great trend now of FPS games being cartoonish (e.g. Overwatch, Battleborn), and that cartoonish visuals didn't stop some games becoming very popular among FPS fans (i.e. Team Fortress 2 is a great example of that), even boost its popularity.
The Dead and Buried game boasts both head and hands motion tracking, but the whole body is animated in-game, so how they actually managed to do it? Well, according to the devs, the game actually makes heavy guesses what the player is doing by analyzing the speed of the movement of the head and hands in order to intelligently guess what the intended actual movement is, and renders an appropriate character animation for it. For example, if the game detects fast head movement, it can translate it into a player making a step and animate it accordingly in the game.
Keep in mind that the final game modes and levels aren't finalized. There'll be different maps (a Train station level has been mentioned in one of the hands-on videos on YouTube), character selection (currently four are available), a larger variety of weapons and more different game modes as well.
The social interactivity and social gestures are also an important part of the game, where you can use different animated gestures to interact with your fellow buddies in the game. It makes the game just more fun to play and it really does it magic and makes people enjoy the game even more. The developer also mentioned the term "Dynamic cover", where you can use the controller to flip a table and use it for cover - sounds really awesome!
Dead & Buried really resembles another game that has already received very positive reviews called Hover Junkers. If you played Hover Junkers, it's kind of a similar experience, so you know what to expect from Dead & Buried, but in Hover Junkers, you can drive around the map whether Dead & Buries is more of a CQB type of gameplay.
I think that this is an amazing game that any FPS game enthusiast with an Oculus Rift headset should pick up. it will make you really grasp the potential of FPS gameplay with the Rift and Touch controllers. This will certainly enhance the gameplay experience of first-person shooters times fold. I think that Oculus has chosen the best genre to demonstrate how immersive and fun a first-person shooter can be and the potential of its technology for other FPS games to come.