After the Fall Frontrunner VR Hands-On Preview
Finger Guns were cordially invited to kill ice-zombies at an exclusive preview of After the Fall’s Frontrunner season content. Here’s how Greg got on with it:
A few weeks ago, Finger Guns were invited to a preview event for After the Fall’s Frontrunner content. Hosted by Koch at DNA VR in Battersea, they sent me. Me, who’s experience with VR is “That little bit I’ve played at EGX with Sean”.
So, if you’re expecting an in depth look at the mechanics and technical specifications behind After the Fall then this isn’t it. What this is, however, is someone’s untainted, unhindered-by-expectations look at a first person shooter in VR.
Did I enjoy myself, or did I leave thinking VR is still a gimmick I can’t get behind? Read on and find out…
If you’re unfamiliar with After the Fall… good, so was I. I’d seen a trailer about a week before we’d gotten the invite, by coincidence, which piqued my interest. Other than that, I was in the dark. So let’s recap what we know about it:
For one, it’s set in the 80’s. In an era of Stranger Things and Ghostbusters continuations, this is never a bad thing. Everything has that retro feel to it; from the chunky old arcade cabinets, right down to the “vintage” weaponry over brand new, polished modern weapons.
The world has been hit with a winter-y apocalypse, with the Fell being some kind of twisted, mutated horde brought on by the extreme weather change. Want to know more than that? Well… so would I. The play session wasn’t giving away what caused it or why they mutated like that.
Ice to Meet You
Of course, there will be obvious Left 4 Dead comparisons throughout After the Fall’s lifespan. So we’ll just get one of them out of the way now: yes, there are different enemy types, much like Left 4 Dead. The frost zombies [frombies?] range from generic, horde-based grunt to bigger, badder and bullet-spongier as players progress.
In my time with it, the standard enemies were challenging enough if you got overwhelmed. Much like the aforementioned, or Days Gone, taking your eye off the ball will see you sideswiped by nasties. Then there’s the big’uns, the howlers, the ones that explode… and the Juggernauts.
I shouldn’t need to spell out the variations, especially if you’re familiar with horde-based zombie games. If you’re not, then be prepared for all sorts of leaping, projectile-based and en masse style shenanigans as you try and stay alive.
Taking It Into Your Own Hands
Brace yourselves, as I’m about to reveal something: I’ve never played on an Oculus Quest 2. Not really a shock, as I’ve made it clear I’ve barely touched VR. As I say, don’t expect an in-depth analysis about the nuances of the system. This is pure layman, from here on in.
In the simplest terms, playing After the Fall with the Oculus Quest 2 is very, very fun. Movement is still thumbstick based, which took some getting used to with head movements as well. Using the left to move reminded me of the Wii, of all things, whilst the combination of the right and head was pretty seamless when I got the hang of it.
But that’s not as exciting as the gunplay, the important bit. Of the weapons in the game, I had a two-handed light machine gun and shotgun at my disposal. Both could be fired with one hand, but the better control (and reloading) required both hands… just like a real gun, funnily enough.
So that’s your “technical aspect” covered, let’s look at the meat of this preview: whether After the Fall is any good or not.
From My Not-As-Cold-As-Theirs, Dead Hands
After the initial confusion and faff of getting to grips with it, like riding a bike after twenty years, I was having an absolute blast with After the Fall. This preview allowed us on the Boulevard stage, which was a perfect excuse to try out a variety of the game’s set piece/battle types.
Firing guns with the Quest 2 felt awesome, to put it bluntly. Machine gun in the right hand, holding the left trigger to take steadier aim in the left was as close to holding something tangible as you can get in VR. Manually reloading my machine gun was great, as was actually lifting the chamber(?) of the weapon and shaking out the magazine out.
The shotgun was also a blast to… err, blast. Held in my left, manually pumping it with my right again felt odd to begin with, having never done it before. But once I’d became “a pro” at it, I was firing one handed between each chambered shell. I felt invincible standing behind the level’s final boss, holding it like Arnie does the Winchester in Terminator 2.
It Warmed Me Up
To wrap this up, then, has After the Fall changed my mind on VR? Well, as the header above gives away: yes. I came away from the event grinning, very impressed with what I’d played at DNA VR. Having not heard about After the Fall much prior to the event, I essentially went in blind.
Now, even a few weeks after, I want to delve back in and find out what’s going on. The only hypothetical take away from this is I, personally, can’t see this being much fun on my own. That I was partnered up with others made it entertaining (particularly BeardoBenjo and I realising you can do the loser sign to each other), yet I don’t know if I’d feel that same enjoyment solo.
Anyway, that’s personal preference. I know some people enjoy the immersive VR experience on their own as much as others do team games. The conclusion I’m going for here is: as someone who didn’t have a lot of experience or fuss about VR, it’s changed my mind that this is a medium that continues to rise.
And if you are reading this, as an Oculus Quest 2 owner, you should really get After the Fall. If only to play around with the guns and strike cool movie poses.
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