Following the colossal success of Rocket League, future sports are back in a big way. RIGS: Mechanized Combat League, the latest from Medievil and Killzone: Mercenary developer Guerrilla Cambridge, is in essence a mech-based deathmatch experience – but with a twist. Unlike other first-person shooters, your objective in this virtual reality-based multiplayer shooter is not solely to shoot out the opponent, but also to leap through a ring in the centre of the stage. This, after all, is your only means of scoring a goal.
The loop would be fun on a flat screen, but it sings in virtual reality. The developer really plays up PlayStation VR's strengths, introducing you to your team mates in an interactive pitstop-style scenario, where you can look around at mechanics and engineers working on various pieces of machinery in a contemporary warehouse type environment. The sense of scale continues to be the most impressive thing about VR, with your selected mech appearing from beneath the ground, and seemingly towering over you.
When you're in the cockpit, you can obviously observe every element of the suit by looking around. Guns are mounted to its arms on either side, which do look a bit flat, but definitely give the illusion that you're sitting inside a mech. Looking down gives you a view of your "virtual" body, as well as some Atari-esque joysticks which replace your real-world DualShock 4. There's also a heads-up display on the mech, which inundates you with tooltips and score information; it can obscure your view a little, but it's not too obtrusive.
One thing that helps this game to really stand out is its art direction. While its visuals are nowhere near on par with non-VR exclusives like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, it's got a really clinical look to it that captures the futuristic feel. We played in the Dubai stadium, which is almost coliseum-esque with the crowd audible from around the perimeter. The designs of the mechs almost have an F1-like feel to them, and when you couple this with the clean UI design, it reminds us of a game like WipEout 2048 with its near-future ideals.
The gameplay is simple, but it's good. The triggers operate your rail guns, while the face buttons initiate a series of commands, such as boost, jump, and repair. The mech that we selected had a double-jump, enabling us to get some real air time, which triggers a bizarre feeling of vertigo when you look down. Not everyone enjoys this sensation – your brain tells your body to brace for impact, but obviously as you're sitting static it can be disorienting – but this author found it more than manageable, and quite enjoyable in honesty.
Nowhere is the sense of falling more powerful than when you score a goal. You need to take out opposing mechs in order to release golden globes. Once you've scooped up three of these, you'll enter a supercharged state, enabling you to leap through the aforementioned hoop in the centre of the stage. Leaping through the air and looking down to ensure that you score is a bizarre experience, but it again proves the power of the medium, as it all comes quite naturally.
That said, it's a novelty that could well wear off quickly. We found the demo to be quite slow and sparse, with the six-player battles and tardy movement speed meaning that we were often searching for the action. It's possible that Guerrilla Cambridge dialled down the speed of the game in order to prevent VR virgins from chundering, but we won't know until we get our hands on the final foray. Whether there'll be Rocket League levels of depth to extract from the finished product also remains to be seen, as hearty aim assist suggests that this isn't going to be the most complex of games.
But it's a strong concept with a distinctive art style and a decent gameplay loop – it does feel awesome when you score a goal. And it's also the closest thing that we've experienced to a "AAA" title on PlayStation VR – it feels like a pretty big budget game. It's definitely the launch title that we're looking forward to most alongside Tumble VR and Battlezone, so we're hopeful that Guerrilla Cambridge can quieten our concerns when the release rolls out alongside the PlayStation 4's futuristic face mask this October.
Are you eager to get suited and booted in RIGS, or is this one virtual reality release that you think that you're going to skip? Leap through the loop in the comments section below.