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With A Laser Pistol At My Side

I bucked the trend this week and picked up something new and niche, From Other Suns, an Oculus Rift title.
Truth be told, I barely played the game, I was too busy with my own game development endeavors to create a persistent state version of a tile-based 2D RPG of yore.  Dory is doing a good job of keeping me task.

But From Other Suns is not a bad game.  It is basically a mix of excellent games that came before it:
  • By and large, you are playing from a first person perspective with a reasonably-effective implementation of VR shooting mechanics.  If you played Robo Recall you know the drill: grab weapons from your holsters and fire away.  The gunplay is not as well implemented as Robo Recall, but it is professionally done, this isn't the developers' first game like this.
  • The most exciting feature of From Other Suns is that is open world, not fixed scenarios.  You actually start off in your own little spaceship.  From the bridge, controlling your own ship plays somewhat like FTL, but a much more streamlined, less deep implementation.  Much like a crew member in FTL, you run around your ship, repelling boarders, repairing damaged systems and holes in the hull, all in glorious VR!
  • Often, you have to beam over to another ship or installation and perform missions.  Typically, it's about eliminating the enemy crew, but sometimes there are other objectives.  The map layouts of the enemy ships are procedural generated, so you have functionally unlimited maps... at least if you're satisfied with running around the inside of ships.
  • The equipment you loot is somewhat procedural generated, a very simplistic Diablo-like treatment to guns and gear.   No wearable armor, but your ship's systems can upgraded.  The guns are fairly varied, at least, as are the enemies.
The goal is to get to Earth, upgrading your ship and gear as you go along, to defeat the alien invaders and save the planet.  It's a damn hard game, most people won't make it past the 45% point.  When your character dies, death is permanent, but if you have crew members left you continue as one of them.  Of course, you only have one ship, so letting it get exploded by the enemy is also a game over.
Too bad I did not play From Other Suns much during the release week, as that's probably as good as it's going to get. Pretty soon, a lot of people are going to be bored of playing it as it's meant to be played.  Then starts the griefing.  It's a griefing paradise, unfortunately, with friendly fire hard-wired on and permadeath. You can opt to play it in "private" mode, only inviting people you know, but who has big enough of a pool of friends with VR?  Playing it alone is not nearly as good of an experience, it's really more of a game for up to 3 humans to play.

Still, I hope the developers continue to improve it.  I was noticing it had a tendency to crash right now.  Since it's a permadeath game, there's no save to reload: a crash is game over.  Sometimes, the missions are bugged and cannot be completed, which isn't the best.  This is dragging down its score quite a bit on the Oculus store, and this might sour the developers' incentive to see its problems fixed.  I guess we'll see what kind of development house Gunfire Games is.

For now, I've requested a refund, as it's hard to justify paying $40 for a crashy game with permadeath.  Assuming Oculus approves this reasonable request, maybe I'll pick it up again if they fix the crashes... but probably not at that price.  Given the dearth of content, $30 would be a more reasonable price, and ideally I think the multiplayer handling needs to be better.  For example, you should have better options to deal with griefers, possibly including a viable single player mode.
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