Virtual reality has a way of breathing new life into established genres by dropping you into the protagonist’s shoes or by transporting you into the game’s world. This has been the case for a variety of games that have found extensive success on the PlayStation VR platform, and Disruptive Games is trying to replicate that success with its debut project, a VR MOBA called Megalith. While it's made a valiant effort at bringing the once-burgeoning genre to VR, what it's created lacks the depth and appeal it needs to survive in a volatile multiplayer marketplace.
Megalith is a run of the mill MOBA that’s stripped down to its bare essentials. Before beginning a match, you choose one of the five (or six if you purchase the day one DLC, which you’ll probably want to do since he’s arguably the best of the bunch) Titans to take onto the battlefield and participate in the game’s only mode, a two-on-two affair that has you doing a lot of what you’d do in any other generic MOBA: killing grunts, eliminating towers, and picking off the other enemy players as you pursue your ultimate goal of destroying the other team’s base while they try to do the same. As one of the two Titans on your team, you’ll be making use of a primary attack, three character-specific abilities, and an ultimate that you’ll utilise to pursue your goal of breaching the enemy defences and destroying their base while defending your own. It’s all by the book and will feel instantly familiar to anyone who’s played any one of these before, and its lack of more complex systems makes it surprisingly easy to grasp for newcomers despite its lack of a tutorial.
What makes Megalith actually stand out is that, well, it’s in VR. If there’s one thing it really nails, it’s a sense of scale: you’re placed directly in the shoes of your chosen Titan as you roam the battlefield, meaning you can get in the faces of your adversaries and plow through the comparatively tiny grunts that feel insignificant given your larger presence. It’s easy to feel like a hulking beast when you launch high into the air after activating an ability or swipe away the clusters of petty grunts. It eventually wears out its novelty, but it stays cool for a good long while.
While the novel new perspective is neat, it doesn’t come without a bevy of caveats. The options menu allows you to toggle snap turning and a limited field of view to try and combat motion sickness, but the fast pace and high-speed abilities can often be stomach churning even after spending a handful of hours acclimating yourself to its jerky movements. There’s also the fact that this is primarily a multiplayer game; you have access to a training mode that pits you against bots, but you won’t earn any of the game’s currency for skins which is the only form of progression here. Your best bet is to cross your fingers and hope someone else not only has the required hardware, shelled out the premium VR price for the game, has the stomach to handle a free movement VR experience, currently has a stable Internet connection for matchmaking, and is playing Megalith at the same time you are. This is a tall ask that even the single game mode and four-player lobbies can’t mitigate – we had difficulties finding human players to match with on release day which is to say nothing of the player base in a month or two.
What makes it even less likely that Megalith will find a dedicated fanbase is its complete lack of depth or complexity. There is no progression other than a meagre helping of cosmetic skins, the game’s two-versus-two nature and six character roster stifles the creativity that can be had by synergizing character abilities in clever ways, and the game’s only map is too limited to allow for diverse tactics. You can’t level up your Titan’s abilities and you don’t procure items mid-match which simplifies things, but it also makes each match feel significantly less interesting. It’s hard to maintain motivation throughout a match that lasts a couple dozen minutes when all you’re being rewarded with over the course of a match is the satisfaction you gain from defeating human opponents. It does feel good to outsmart another player by effectively using your abilities, but each match begins to feel empty as you realise they’re just going to respawn before you’re able to gain any significant ground. Megalith has nothing to offer players that are used to the genre greats.
While playing a MOBA in VR is undeniably neat, Megalith suffers from a number of interface issues that make it far more abrasive than it should be as a project that just went through an open beta. You can’t look at any menus or challenge progress while waiting to match into a game, the icons that display your ability cool-downs can rarely be seen since they’re often covered up by your character’s weapons, and you can’t look at the scoreboard or the pause menu to study up on your Titan’s abilities while waiting to respawn after death. These are all small oversights that could be addressed with a patch at some point, but they’re only another way in which a potential player base will be turned off and deterred from this multiplayer-focused game that requires players to survive.
Megalith is a run-of-the-mill MOBA that, despite its VR novelty, does nothing to distinguish itself. It’s cool to be placed in the shoes of larger-than-life titans, but the game’s single mode is middling at best. There’s still enjoyment to be had with its varied albeit limited cast of characters, but better MOBA’s have had difficulties maintaining a consistent player base mere months after release. If you add the VR requirement to that unfortunate fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to have the opportunity to play Megalith with someone in a month or two, but that’s assuming you’d even want to.