Saturday, August 6, 2022

Getting my Sea Legs in Battlewake!

About four months ago I purchased the VR Pirate Game known as Battlewake as a part of a VR Humble Bundle. In fact I picked up several quality VR games on the cheap at that time! But, you know me and pirates, I had to immediately give Battlewake a shot.  

Yarr! Blasting me enemies off the Port Bow!

The first feeling I got when I played this game all those months ago was of being incredibly seasick.  I actually said out loud to myself, who in their right mind makes a game purposefully made to make you seasick in a VR environment? I mean, vection sickness is a legit problem for a lot of people in these games. What were they thinking?!

And I put the game back down until yesterday.  See the thing is I was trying to find a VR game that works well with NVidia's GeForce Experience in hopes that I could actually take a 360 screenshot in a game. There's this thing called "Ansel" bundled with that particular overlay that will allow you to take 360 screenshots in a (as it turns out) very small selection of games. I'm all about the 360 photos, so the idea of a 360 screenshot had me excited.

Whilst looking at the GeForce Experience launcher, I saw it found Battlewake in my library and thought . . . huh . . . I remember that horrible game, and then GeForce Experience said . . . Tom, dude, you have the settings on this game cranked way too high, let us optimize that down for you! So I said ok, and GeForce Experience turned all the settings down.

Now, I'm quite proud of my souped up computer, but from first-hand experience inside the Unity Engine, I know exactly how bad even the slightest lag can be for causing vection sickness.  Honestly, it really doesn't take much. Also, four months ago I was trying to use the Oculus 2's air link to connect to my computer wirelessly to play Steam games. Yeah, that's just asking to be sick.

So, with my new lowered settings and a tethered connection from a USB cable attached to my Oculus 2, I bravely launched Battlewake once again to see how it would play for me. Would I get crazy sick again, or what?  

To my surprise, it was smooth sailing in Battlewake!

Sailing the lag free seas!

I'm actually kind of surprised at the difference. See, part of making a VR game NOT cause vection sickness is to find a way to trick people's minds into believing they are moving through a virtual space by the use of their limbs. For some games that's drawing a huge boundary and letting people actually walk around their living rooms. For some games, it's using people's arms to run and climb (hello Gorilla Tag). For some games it's blanking out the entire screen for a second while they teleport to a different location. For Battlewake, it's using your two big burley pirate arms to hold on to the wheel of a pirate ship and steer left and right . . . and you know what . . . it actually works. Go figure.

In fact, my arms were getting a little heavy from holding the wheel through 5 chapters of Diego's tale of sailing his ship in the depths of Shambala. 

On to the siege of Shambala!

During gameplay you yank the wheel of your ship left and right and fire both guns and cannons at enemy ships that rise out of the sea, and it's action packed.  You can ram each other's ship and after a good while of causing damage, you'll have access to an ultimate power.  You grab a magical coin from your wrist and unleash a whirlwind / swirling sinkhole combination that bears destructive fury upon your enemies.

Onward to Victory!

There are four ships to choose from: El Punto Negro, The Wrathful Servant, The Stonefish, and The Sea Witch's Wrath.  They all look amazing, of course, but they also have slightly different statistics for you to choose from. Personally I was all in for The Wrathful Servant. Its broadside weapons seem right about the perfect power level for me.

After completing Diego's 5 part Campaign mission, you then unlock the story of Rev. Rev is a follower of the Drowned One, which has transformed her into a pirate witch with a tentacled head. Of course, as a player all you see are your arms and hands. Whereas Diego was extremely musclebound, Rev has a dainty feel to her with rings on almost all of her fingers.

About to give the starting bell a good swipe of my hand

Rev's Ultimate power is a great deal cooler than Diego's, but her initial ship seemed weak unless you were being pursued, then her stern's weapons really shined.

The Drowned one will consume you all!

So, all in all, it was an extremely satisfying session last night sailing the high seas.  At some point I'll need to stop messing around with the campaign and go fight some other players. For now I'm perfectly happy playing through this campaign -- especially now that I've got my sea legs as it were. I still have Rev's story plus two others to play through and four ships to upgrade! Plenty to do still.

Happy Dueling!


Nimgimli said...

So it sounds like this is one you can play while sitting in your desk chair?

I like the idea of walking around while playing VR games but combine a small apartment with a dog that always wants to be within 2 feet of you and it's not very practical, so I have to be pretty careful about what games I get. Even standing in one place games can get problematic as I'll wind up hitting something (hopefully not the poor dog) if things happen at waist level or below.

Stingite said...

Absolutely. You never have to leave your chair.