Gunheart is a fast-paced sci-fi co-op first-person shooter developed from the ground up for VR. This is the first VR project of the developer Drifter, a company who employs veterans who worked on Halo, Gear of War and Robo Recall, so some very experienced devs are working on this game. The company put itself a goal to deliver the best VR game experiences out there. This is, in fact, their first project, which I'm sure they are very proud of. Their employees already come with a lot of experience in developing VR games. Drifter's CEO, Ray Davis, mentioned in an interview on the Unreal Engine channel about his experience developing VR games at Epic Games, like the VR game Bullet Train.
Drifter first demonstrated the game at E3 2017. In Gunheart you'll be fighting against hordes of enemies in different types of missions. Finishing bounties will grant you with money which you can use to upgrade your gear and weapons and become even more badass.
The game is developed in Unreal Engine 4 and aside from the fast prototyping that UE4 allows you to do, the visuals of this game are really impressive. Many of you probably already heard about the superb light rendering of UE4 and Gunheart definitely takes advantage of that. Both the outdoors and indoors battles look really impressive. At the hands of professionals, this engine can lead to some really impressive results. I have no doubt that Drifter will make the best of it.
Speaking of visuals. Gunheart kind of reminds me of another game that spent thousands of hours playing.. guess what it is? If you said Destiny, you were right. I was addicted to this game for quite a long time. I really love the world that Bungie has set up, a bright vivid and inviting world, rather than a dark and horrific one. So I personally love the level design approach that the company has used with their upcoming title.
However, it's not only about how the game looks. Drifter made sure that players can really enjoy the complex environment by allowing them to use the environment for taking cover, taking advantage of elevation and use items in the environment to their advantage.
There is also a narrative for this game. In Gunheart you and your buddies play a group of mercenaries who go to different planets and help to annihilate aliens creatures that have taken over those planets. Like any good first-person shooter, you have a large selection of weapons which you can use in the battle. As you progress you'll be able to get money and use it to buy more type of weapons, including but not limited to Carabine guns, sniper rifles, an arc or explosive bows, shotguns, crossbow, pistols, etc. This is a sci-fi game, so don't expect to find an M16 or any realistic weapons here, although some of the weapons might look and feel familiar to our modern weapons.
Another great thing about Gunheart is that you are able to equip different weapons for each hand. So for example, you can choose a shotgun in one hand and put a pistol in the other. It reminds me some of my favorite crazy shooters like Serious Sam VR and non-VR game Borderlands, where you can just go out and turn the place into a Bullet Hell. I actually prefer this to a shooter emphasized on accurate aiming and reaction time. Sometimes I just like going out there and kick some alien's butt with everything I have. Feel like a Rambo on drugs with nothing that can stop him. Another cool feature it that you can put the VR motion controllers close to each other and now you can hold powerful two-handed weapons.
The game uses teleportation to move around the map. This is not my favorite movement mechanics and I personally prefer free-motion. I've also heard, and I hope I am not wrong on that, that Gunheart also supports strafe locomotion as well, if that's the way you want to play. Having said that, teleportation is in no doubt the most comfortable way to play these type of games and I'm sure that Drifter wanted to make sure that this game is very comfortable for players.
One of my favorite features o GunHeart is the cross-platform cooperative multiplayer aspect of the game. My favorite games, in general, are coop multiplayer first-person shooters and this is one reason why I am hooked on this game. It's great having an option to play alongside players from other platforms. For example, if you own the HTC Vive, you can play alongside an Oculus Rift players. I'm not sure about cross-platform support with PlayStation VR (PSVR). Nonetheless, the PSVR version will be released after the PC release, just so you know.
You can play the game yourself if you want, but the game doesn't feature any single-player component to it. You can just play it along or invite other players to play alongside you. Of course, the best experience is playing with friends, but you can play it along if you that's what you want to.
Gunheart supports up to 3-player co-op gameplay, although in between missions there is a social bar where 10 to 15 players can socialize and talk with each other at the same time. This reminds me the Destiny's Tower and it's great to see this feature in Gunheart as well. For me, Destiny was like the Facebook of video games. I met many of my current friends online in the game, many of them in the tower. It's such an amazing experience being able to hang around with your in-game avatar, meeting other people and offering them the option to play with your together. In my opinion, nothing beats that experience, nothing.
It works in Destiny so well, and I'm sure many more companies will implement this type of feature in their games. This is much better than just looking at a lobby screen with names and inviting a player. In that social place, you have the option to actually show off your new unlocked gear and armor, show people are badass you are in that game and how far you have progressed.
Gunheart featured a matchmaking system as well. First, the game tries to put you in a mission that people are already playing if there is an empty spot, so you can enjoy this great social shooter experience. If not, it will start a fresh new mission for you.
As of the time of writing, we don't know about the game modes which will be available in the game, but the CEO of Drifter mentioned the term "game modes", so we can expect the game to feature different types of game modes. In an interview to the press, the developer mentioned a payload type of missions, where you need to transfer a bomb from one point to the other and players need to toss the bomb from one player to the other while under attack until they reach a specific checkpoint. In other modes, you'll need to just progress from one point to another while fighting your way through hordes of enemies.
I'm sure that GunHeart will appeal to many first-person shooter fans. There is no doubt in my mind that Drifter will come up with a very immersive and entertaining first-person shooter experience. Thanks for bringing us, VR gamers, yet another co-op game. This is they for many of us to not just have fun playing games, but to also socialize with gamers from all around the world.
I'm super impressed with what I've seen so far and can't wait to put my hands on this game. Gunheart is coming to HTC Vive and Oculus Rift late Summer 2017, followed by a PS4/PSVR which is expected to launch later this year.
Image credit: Drifter.