Diesel Express VR is a room-scale first-person shooter VR game that tells an alternate apocalyptic post-WW2 story. There are no longer country borders. People are now living out in the Outland, and only small amount of the population living in small cities guarded behind walls. This widespread Outlands is controlled ba a doomsday cult lead by a name called Marius. This cult now fights against those protected cities and wants to benefit from this fragile post-war situation to gain a wide control over the largest area possible.
In these times, the only transportation available for securely transferring goods between cities is via armored trains called The Dreadnoughts. Your job as the Legionnaire of The Regiment is to defend the train and make sure it reaches its destination safely by protecting it from the bandits on cars who try to steal its goods.
The game seems to be inspired by the movie Mad Max: Fury Road. I've seen that movie and the desert setting, the type of action with those diesel punk vehicles really reminds me of that movie. I really love this type of apocalyptic setting. Although the story isn't real, the guns, the shooting experience, and the terrain do look and feel real. If you played the video game Mad Max, the terraisn is more or like like that, but with brighter and more saturated colors. Having a different post-WW2 theme is nice because it just brings a breath of fresh air to the genre. It also gives the level designer more freedom in producing a unique level design because the game doesn't necessarily need to stick to a true-to-life design reliability approach. You can deviate from the norm and come out with your own distorted vision of how that apocalyptic world should look like.
The results are really impressive. The game features both a desert theme, but according to the developer's blog, they are also working on a new snowy terrain. I think it's really important to combine unique different themes for a different set of missions because the atmospheric level design is one of the things that really make this game unique and stand out from the rest. The early access game comes with 6 missions taking place in 3 different maps.
I think that the developer LazyLab Game Studio nailed it just right. The world rendering looks very realistic with excellent lighting positioning, beautiful and convincing sand and smoke particle effects, great unique grungy diesel punk vehicle's design (although I think they could have gone even wilder than that), superb detailed animations and high-resolution textures. All that is combined with accurate physics, well-designed cover system, and realistic first-person shooting gameplay experience and cool realistic enemy death animations.
It's just feels so fun taking out enemies in this game when you are in a continuous movement, as well as the enemies. The AI works really well. It's great to see how the driver of the car is steering the card to avoid getting hit and it's amazing to see the car deviate from its path after you kill the driver driving the vehicle or shooting down a passenger and just see him dropped down from the car. The animation looks really smooth, realistic and very persuasive.
Diesel Express is a room-scale (standing) VR game, and it was designed like that for the room-scale cover system. You have sandbags, wooden boxes and all sorts of items all around you, which are designed to give you shelter from the enemy's fire. You can just crouch down to hide and then stand up to get a good aim and shoot an enemy.
Diesel Express VR follows a realistic shooting gameplay experience and of course, it supports the HTC Vive tracked motion controllers. Because of this, players will need to work on their aim, which takes some time to get used to. To perfect your aiming, the developer added a shooting range in the basement of the Capital Pub, the place where you take your missions and select your weapons. In there you have the option to train your eye-hand coordination and work on your aiming by shooting unharmful targets the various weapons which are available in the game.
Diesel Express definitely earned our full attention because of all those things we've mentioned above. As of the time of writing, the game is still in Early Access. We still didn't mention the weapon upgrade system, the ranking system that the developer plans to add when the game comes out. What came into my mind though is how amazing it would be if there was an option to have two teams playing against each other, one as bandits with cars, others guarding the Dreadnought—Who knows, maybe in the future (fingers crossed).
Overall, a really impressive start. I highly recommend checking out this game on Steam for you HTC Vive owners. I do hope that it will he available for Oculus Touch as well, but I didn't find any information about it on their blog. I will update the game's listing and the news section if and when it is available.
Image credit: LazyLab Game Studio