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Hover Junkers lets you build defenses and blast other ships in VR

It's all fun and games until you flip someone the bird

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Hover Junkers is a game coming to the HTC Vive this April, and I recently jumped online to play a few rounds with the developers. Some of the highlights from our gunfights can be viewed above, but video doesn't really prepare you for the experience of actually walking around your virtual ship and taking cover as the bullets fly past your noggin.

Be sure to pay attention to how easy it is to communicate with people on your team, and even enemy players, non-verbally. The game animates your avatar using the tracking data from the controllers and headset, making it simple to do things like point where you need to go or decide who is driving.

"We can teach people the game in about 15 minutes, but it takes hours and hours to master," Brandon Laatsch of developer StressLevelZero told me after our games. "I've stumbled into a few servers where a player was teaching another player how to play the game. It's easier than ever to communicate in game since you have non-verbal communication via the tracked controllers along with voice over IP."

That sort of interaction is what makes the gun so immediately enjoyable and, frankly, a bit weird. There are no "canned" animations that determine how you duck behind cover and when it's OK to fire back. To take cover, you have to physically crouch down. To fire back, you have pop up and fire back. You begin to feel as if you're actually there, in the middle of a frantic, futuristic gunfight.

You can also see the hand motions needed to reload. It's not just a button press; you have to get used to the correct way to reload both the handgun and the shotgun, and doing so requires both buttons and physical movements. After a bit of practice you learn to reload without thinking about it, but it's just as much of a physical skill as a mental one. It has to become muscle memory.

"It's been continually surprising to see how peoples personalities come through in their play styles and their avatars," Laatsch said. "Jumping into a random match and seeing people employing tactics that we never thought of is incredible. For example, yesterday I shot at a guy and he faked his death by falling to the floor, I started celebrating like Yosemite Sam and he popped up, offed me and mocked me with his version of my celebration dance."

Hover Junkers is coming this April to the HTC Vive.

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