Bethesda Softworks has experimented aggressively with virtual reality over the past years, releasing VR spins on Fallout 4, Skyrim and id Software’s Doom. Two more virtual reality projects are in the works based on Arkane’s Prey and MachineGames’ Wolfenstein series, both of which offer very different experiences.
Arkane’s Prey: Typhon Hunter add-on is the more interesting of the two VR projects. It’s an escape room experience in which players are dropped into Prey protagonist Morgan’s office and must hunt for clues and study objects scattered about the environment to solve a multi-stage puzzle. I was dropped into the virtual office without much in the way of a primer, and had to study whiteboard drawings, documents and instruction panels on fabrication machines in order to make headway.
I had little direction other than to escape the room, which was part of the appeal. It was slow going, but it accurately replicated the experience of a real-life escape room as I warped around the environment trying to piece together Arkane’s puzzle.
Ricard Bare, lead designer at Arkane, said Prey: Typhon Hunter will ship with three escape rooms that can be played in VR, each of which will take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete, he said. There’s no randomness to each room, nor will players have to worry about mimics attacking them as they unravel the mystery. It’s pure puzzle-solving.
Somewhat confusingly, Typhon Hunter also includes a totally separate competitive hide-and-seek multiplayer mode in which one player, as Morgan, takes on five other players acting as mimics, Prey’s shapeshifting aliens. The Morgan player is challenged to discover all five mimics before time runs out, while the mimics are tasked with stealthily attacking Morgan and surviving until the round is over. (The hide-and-seek mode will also support VR, Bare said.)
Prey: Typhon Hunter will be released later this summer to players who purchased the Mooncrash single-player DLC for Prey.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, which was announced at E3 2018, on the other hand, is pure action. Players assume the role of a resistance hacker who takes control of the Nazis’ weapons of war, including a giant Panzerhund, and turns it against them.
In the demo of Cyberpilot I played, I rode on the back of that massive fire-breathing mechanized hound, spewing an unending column of flame at waves of Nazi grunts. I also had the option of ramming into Nazis, instantly turning them into red mist, or bashing into cars that rolled over my enemies.
For as satisfying as it is killing Nazi scum in the Wolfenstein style, Cyberpilot felt repetitive and mindless. Over the course of roughly 10 minutes, I laid waste to dozens of soldiers, but there was no tension and seemingly little skill involved. The demo concluded with an enticing boss fight against a massive Nazi war machine, and the whole experience seemed tailored to be played in the kind of short burst one would experience at a convention, so hopefully there’s more to the game than what Bethesda was showing.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is coming sometime in 2019.
Both games will support VR headsets on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC.