The biggest complaint I’ve heard about VR is that most of the games out there really aren’t games — but rather well-curated experiences that are entertaining in nature. Oh sure, some AAA games like Fallout and Skyrim have “VR Versions”, but where are the native “triple-A virtual reality” games? Apparently, they just arrived — and man, was it worth the wait.
The people aren’t wrong. Virtual reality often lends itself to incredible experiences that can sometimes pass as games. Maybe calling them “interactive experiences” is a better way of discussing these types of things.
Arguably, you can call Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer and SuperHot VR games for sure, right? So the platform isn’t without “games proper” — but it is easy to classify them as “snacks” in the gaming world; appetizers, if you will. Certainly not entrees of their own right.
Where are the 20, 30 and 40 hour epic adventures? Waist-deep in minion and resource management? Crafting? Quests? Side quests? The endless pursuit of grinding for cash to make your player more powerful? All wrapped in a great story loaded with full voice acting and cut scenes?
THOSE are “real” games. AAA games we expect on the PC and consoles in 2019. Why can’t we have those in VR?
Welcome to Asgard’s Wrath
On October 9th, 2019 developer Sanzaru via Oculus Studios released the most ambitious VR game yet. Asgard’s Wrath. The game tops the charts as one of the most expensive virtual reality games as well — clocking in at $40.
BATTLE AS MORTALS. RISE AS A GOD. Become the next great Asgardian god as you immerse yourself in the legendary world of Norse mythology. Sharpen your swordplay and bring your own fighting style into the fray with next-level combat. Possess different classes of mortal heroes, solve larger-than-life puzzles, and transform animals into warrior companions that you lead into battle.
When was the last time you saw a VR game that required 165GB of space to install?
Asgard’s Wrath (just AW from now on) is currently available only on Oculus Rift (but read on — you can play it on Quest with a little effort and a good PC).
Just What Sort of Game Is it?
I’m only a few hours into the game, but I think I’m past the “introduction” and “tutorial” stage and can talk to the baser mechanics of the game as a whole.
In AW, you will play both a god and a mortal. Much like any manager-worker relationship, the latter does most of the work while the former spends a lot of time figuring out what to make the worker do.
If Someone Asks You If You’re A God, You Say YES
The game opens with you in god form — fighting a kraken along side the god Loki. This is really akin to a tutorial and “get oriented” segment, but I assure you that when you appear standing in an ocean in your godly glory you will be impressed. You’ll chop up viking boats being flung at you. You’ll pick up giant sea slugs and squash or chop them up. Great stuff.
As a god, you perform the upper-level resource management of the game. That has you visiting the Pub of the Gods where you can seek out storytellers, merchants and the blacksmith — all staples in a game like this.
The merchant buys your crap and sells you things you need for crafting recipes along with the requisite potions and herbs one might need.
The blacksmith will also buy and sell — along with crafting services, as well as upgrading your minions (more on that in a bit).
This commerce hub is good for taking a break from the main game and just hanging out. You’ll be here quite a bit, offloading your pack of acquisitions and keeping your minions powerful.
However, your godly duties aren’t just utilitarian as a broker of goods and services.
AW takes place across six sagas, the first and last solely in god form, while the four in between you will spend a lot of time as a mortal.
Humans need a lot of help. This help comes in the form of your godly dominion over the world and your ability to convert animals like sharks and turtles into minions you control while occupying your mortal.
In the god’s eye mode, you tower over the mortal coil — and the whole thing feels like a diorama or a kid’s sandbox with little tiny humans and creatures running around. I got a Moss feeling about it; where you felt above the game but could still interact with it. Very surreal.
In this mode, you’ll help your mortal solve puzzles; moving things around the environment, making openings and keeping the story moving forward.
Warping back into your mortal is how you Get Things Done(tm).
The Mortals — Gods Can’t Do It All
Possessing your mortal is how you explore dungeons, gather quest items, solve riddles/puzzles and of course fight the monsters that seem to gravitate and infest everywhere good treasure can be found.
Your mortal will use the minions you create out of common animals you’ll find around the land.
In the first saga, you’ll eventually get two minion animals; one made from a shark and one made from a turtle. Once you have a minion, he is yours to keep and command — and you can swap them out as necessary (one minion at a time, though). Each minion has a skillset you can harness; some of them are optional, but some of them are required use to get through certain areas or solve certain puzzles.
The shark minion is a ferocious fighter — but if you’re skilled with a sword and shield, you can probably dispatch bad guys on your own. However, what you can’t do is reach cages hanging from the ceiling (filled with tasty bodies) and your shark minion will happily jump up there and gnaw on those bodies, hanging there like a pit bull on a bloody rope. This has the side effect of pulling the cage down — acting as a pulley to open another area or raise a bridge or lever.
The turtle is all about the shell; which it can be directed to use to protect you from traps and fire. The game helps you along pretty good about what each minion is for and some minions will outright refuse commands that are better served by a different one.
As with every good adventure game, you’ll gather a lot of scrap and crap along the way — useful of the god side of you to take back to the Pub to process and make/craft/sell.
There are main quests to perform along with many side quests. These are tracked and maintained through a sort of standard RPG style menu system; along with inventory, tutorials and other game-related stuff.
The interface is great — everything is accessible and makes sense for the most part.
When you go back to the Pub with minion/mortal in tow, you can place the on the forge for the blacksmith to upgrade them. It is so cool that while they are on the forge, you can take possession of your mortal and get a tiny-person’s eye of that big ass blacksmith looking you over. Way cool.
What Else Do You Need To Know
Well, I’ve put a couple of good hours in and I’m only at 2%. That’s a good sign.
There are tons of things to do … I have many side quests queued up (granted, many of them feel like fetch quests) and the game apparently rewards you well for going back to areas you’ve completed with additional powers/resources/minions and finding more collectables and things to do.
One thing I will say … Maybe there is a reason that VR games are typically smaller experiences.
I suffer from “VR Fatigue” while playing this game. There is something about being under the visor for an hour+ at a time that kinda drains me. I do play the game standing up, though and I usually play with an unaltered Oculus Quest (which isn’t the pinnacle of VR comfort to begin with).
Oh yes, I promised to tell you how to play AW on the Quest. Use Virtual Desktop; check out my article here to learn more. I’m sure it will also play great with the Oculus Link cable coming later this month.
That being said, being able to be engaged in a VR game for hours on end sounds more like a #firstworldproblem scenario, right? Just be warned that it might take a toll on you, physically.
If you want a full blown review of the title — front to back — I would check out UploadVR’s great in-depth one. Here is a video version if you don’t like to read:
Do you love Asgard’s Wrath? Hate it? Tell my readers what you think in the comments below.