Monday, December 18, 2023

Asgard's Wrath II is simply amazing

Asgard's Wrath II launched just 3 days ago on Dec 15th, and it made a huge splash. I mean, those who play VR knew it was going to be huge, but I think everyone's collective jaws dropped when IGN gave it the coveted perfect 10

My first really wow moment with the game happened when I loaded it up and it took 10 minutes to get to the title screen as I was treated to a theme-park-esque ride through the lore. Don't skip it. They have you grab on the reigns of a giant crow and soar through a story of the gods while the game catches you up on what happened in the first Asgard's Wrath game. Truly a treat.

Golden memories of glowing musicians in the Asgard Tavern

One of the best features of this game is the dungeon puzzles you'll encounter where you bounce back and forth between your god mode and the human host you can inhabit. For me, it was reminiscent of playing A Fisherman's Tale mixed with the miniature model sets of Moss or Lucky's Tale. It makes for some really fun gameplay that gives you a breather from the hack-and-slash combat that will be giving you a workout.

Raising my human up on a platform by hooking a pull cord as a god.

The combat is great by the way. It's every bit as action-packed as playing Dungeons of Eternity with even more complexity in how enemies react, show their weak spots, and just fight with you. Even better, after rescuing your first companion in Act 2 you can use them in the fight as well. Not to mention there's a whole skill tree system so you can customize your combat. And that's just the stuff I've discovered so far! There are still 3 other human forms I can play as, but I've only unlocked the warrior so far.

Die Servent of Set!

But wait, there's more! That's right, there's a side system dungeon crawl where you can be ranked and earn cool stuff along the way! The Uncharted Rifts offer you a chance to test your mettle against friends and foes alike. It's kind of crazy. When you die in an uncharted rift you can leave behind a helpful companion to assist those in need or a shadow of yourself to strike down your friends. How far can you go is the name of the game.

The D.M. will show you the way into the uncharted rifts.

But wait, there's EVEN MORE! While out in the desert riding around you can actually visit tears in the space-time reality and fight enemies in an MR mode! I wish I would have captured some footage of this. It was really fun. Basically, the Quest 3's passthrough mode enabled, and enemies would tear through my office walls and strike at me.

It has everything! I just can't even with this game. It's all just so incredibly well-made and cool. I really love it, and it's definitely my new favorite Quest game. If you're looking for someone to push you over the edge to buy it, look no further. I'll be writing more about it on the blog here as I play through it.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, December 11, 2023

Many Wonders of Meow Wolf in a Masterful Minigolf Menagerie

Just last week, the fine folks at Meow Wolf and Walkabout Minigolf teamed up to deliver us a DLC course that is simply breathtaking. My family is no stranger to the Meow Wolf exhibits, and, as I posted about recently, my son and I love a good game of Walkabout Minigolf, so it was a natural fit. Even more exciting, I had a full, eight-person group lined up to play with on launch day thanks to the Ruff Talk VR Discord. Let's go!

Numina come to life in Walkabout Minigolf!

You know, it's funny. I think I've felt the same Meow-Wolf-esque vibes while playing in Walkabout Minigolf in the past. It was actually when I was playing the Sweetopia course for the first time that I thought, yeah, I see it. This is a cool space that is like a work of art where you can just chill and walk through it. It's a natural fit.

That said, this Meow Wolf course is next-level awesome. Alien creatures, weird flowers, and uncanny morphism are just the start. 

Exploding pollen balls inside The final hole

The rules of the course bend as well. For example, there's a hole where you have to herd holes into a hole. There's a hole where your ball shatters into 9 other balls. There's an upside-down obstacles hole. There's a Vector-graphics, air hockey hole . . . and on and on and on. A lot of love and thought went into these spaces and it shows.

A view of the first hole and the recurring blueberry, golf ball beast you find throughout

I also streamed my play to the TV so my wife and son could see the course and the first thing they said was, "Oh! I've been there!" That's how well the theming is of the Meow Wolf course to the Convergence Station, Denver location of Meow Wolf. I personally had never been there, but they both went there last summer while on a trip together.

A diorama of the course within the course

It took about a full 2 hours to play through the course with eight people the other night. Of course, we spent most of that time exploring around the environment, finding hidden balls, and . . . in my case, spent time catching up when my headset ran out of battery.

On Saturday I came back into the hardmode, night-time version of the golf course and found all the hidden pimentos throughout the course. It was tough, but I didn't cheat by looking at a guide to find them all. Number 3 and Number 9 were killers to find! My reward was adding another pretty sweet putter to my collection. I dig it! 

So close, yet so far . . . tough clue!

This is hands down my new favorite course in Walkabout minigolf. What a successful blend of an IP that Mighty Coconut achieved with this course. Amazing. 

If you'd like to hear more about the course and walkabout minigolf, the folks at the Ruff Talk VR podcast had a really excellent interview Michele Martell of Mighty Coconut and Vince Kadlubek of Meow Wolf. Check it out!

Happy Dueling!

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

I bought World of Diving for $2

I've been a bit fascinated with underwater VR games since I first strapped on a headset and realized that it felt like I was wearing a diving mask. It's a bit uncanny and so it's easy to understand why a game like World of Diving exists. It's actually crazier to me that there aren't MORE games like World of Diving, but I get it . . . . It's a gamble and a game like this wouldn't make you rich. This is my best guess at why there are so many shooters in the VR space. They sell. Games like World of Diving don't.

Steamdb has tracked World of Diving over the past couple years, and when it's gone on sale it's either been between the $5 and $2 range. That tracks for me since it's an older VR game from 2014, and it has a 3-star rating on Steam.

World of Diving is all about the extremes

Having already been exposed to Ocean Rift (one of my first purchased games on the Oculus) and loving the feeling of jetting around looking at the ocean floor and swimming aside sea creatures, when World of Diving popped up for $2 during Black Friday sales, I . . . dove in . . . and purchased it.

The past week has been World of Diving week for me, which I needed since before this I was in a couple very active games (Synth Riders and Hellsweeper -- thanks for the suggestions Amelia!). World of Diving is super super chill, but still a game, so it's already better than Ocean Rift or TheBlu

The problem with Ocean Rift is that it's an experience, not a game.  Basically in Ocean Rift you're visiting a virtual underground museum looking at sea life and not much else.  The other popular underwater experience is TheBlu, which is currently free to play with 3-4 $2 DLC. The free to play experience in TheBlu is like 3 minutes. It's a great 3 minutes where you stand in place and a whale looks you in the eye and swims past you. It would be a pretty great "first experience" for a VR newbie, but . . . ultimately it's pretty short. I did like how the ship shook when the whale zoomed past you though. Nice touch.

So! All that said!  Let's talk World of Diving!  This Jamaican 6-pack bustin' diving shop owner is your guide.

Ray likes turtles and is Jamaican right down to the tip of his undies.

Ray has quests for you! The basic game loop here is that you visit Ray, and Ray tells you where to go next.  Done. You open up your handy dandy underwater camera/quest/fishopedia and there's a little yellow marker telling you exactly where to go to find your next destination.

Have green squares, will photograph! 

I love everything about this thing except for its font. Completely unbelievable that a company that created such a device would use such an unreadable font for its interface.  A white, thin, and san serif font?! I don't buy it and I don't like it.  It is a pretty cool gadget though. I wish the pictures that I took with it were stored somewhere on my hard drive. I dug through folders hoping it was so, but alas . . . Steam F12 or Oculus screenshot button were the best I could do.

I had fish density turned all the way up in the options

Most of Ray's missions came in one of two flavors: collection quest or photography quest. It was like playing Pokemon Snap in a way.  After you'd finish a quest, Ray would give you a follow on quest until you had finished all the main quests in an area, then you'd unlock the next biome. In all there were 8 biomes you could play in: Thailand, Bonaire, Australia, Okavango Delta, Lockheed, North Carolina, Bismarck, and Brazil.

I'm not sure if he saw me after a while.

The first biome was the most fleshed out and completed. After that, there were maybe only 4-5 quests in each biome. The fish in the biomes started to taper off as well. Because of this, it feels like the game was rushed to completion after the first biome was polished, but they all had something unique and interesting to explore.


While questing, there are some side quests you can pick up for photographing things. There are also hidden collection quests for picking up junk, finding doubloons, and finding other treasures. I picked up a lot of trash in the virtual seas, but alas I haven't finished any of these sub-quests.

People just leaving their trash bags everywhere these days!

Quests award you with gold and you can spend that gold on unlocking wearable diving gear. As a player you don't see any visible changes in what you're wearing, but apparently this game supports multiplayer where it would matter more.  That's actually the most shocking part here. Multiplayer?! I love it! I wonder if that's networked or player-hosted? It'd be interesting to find out someday if I find a diving partner.

The quests end at the second to the last biome, which has you searching through an old sunken nazi submarine. You end up swimming through rusty old tunnels looking for items.  The very last quest of the game is to find 8 hidden bars of gold. It was a bit of a cheap play here on that quest. You had to stick your hand through a ship bunk's geometry and click eight times in a hidden location.  Kinda weird.

In the words of Indiana Jones, "Nazis, I hate these guys!"

After that, they open a biome for you to just swim around in and perform photography side quests and junk clean up.  The best surprise though was this amazing My Little Pony Esque ship that was sunk there.

The best sunken ship in the game hands down. Worth the time spent to get to the final zone.

I love the fact that there was some crazy pirate in this unspoken lore that floated around in a my little pony ship and unleashed cannon fire on other pirates . . . only in One Piece and the final biome of World of Diving, friends.

The game was not without its bugs mind you. I mean, if I had paid full price for this game I would have been pretty irritated when I needed to restart the entire game because my ability to select quest icons and click in the quest window just suddenly didn't work. But, since I bought the game on the cheap and it has provided me with six hours of underwater fun so far, it's totally worth it!

If you know of a good diving VR game, let me know. I'd love to check it out.

Happy Dueling!