EGX 2016 – Hands On with RIGS Mechanized Combat League

Last year, Scott and I got our very first taste of VR with both the PlayStation VR and the HTC VIVE. Our minds were BLOWN! Whilst we both agreed the latter of the 2 hardware options was overall the most impressive, the VIVE was also by far the most impractical (due to the space required to get the full experience) and significantly more expensive to be a realistic option as a consumer product.

PlayStation VR hit a perfect sweet spot between price, premium feel hardware and consumer ready. All that was missing then were the games.

Well then, roll forward 12 months and here we are at EGX 2016 where PlayStation had a HUGE stand dedicated to PVSR and getting as many people to try it as possible over the 4 days. They pulled out all the stops too with a list of launch titles arguably far more impressive than any console launch. We had Batman VR, Driveclub VR, Robinson: The Journey, VR Worlds, The Getaway, Resident Evil 7, Battlezone, Far Point and of course RIGS Mechanized Combat League.

“PlayStation VR hit a perfect sweet spot between price, premium feel hardware and consumer ready.”

We didn’t get to try all of them as slots were by appointment only (and extremely limited walk-in times) but we did get to try RIGS. And it’s RUDDY SPECTACULAR!!!

As I sat down and strapped my head in to the VR headset, the first ting you notice is just how well made PSVR is. It’s light but far from cheap feeling. This is a premium piece of kit. The next thing I noticed is just how easy it is to adjust to your head size. There is a button on the back that allows for larger craniums to sit snuggly in there, but brilliantly there is also a front button that allows for the repositioning of the “visor”. This made me incredibly happy as I wear glasses, so I could adjust it for a perfect fit without feeling like my face was getting crushed. Or worse, needing to removal my glasses altogether! I was strapped in, ready and bouncing with excitement.

“It’s easy to mistake RIGS for just another mech shooter, but it’s not. Far from it. It’s actually much more like a football game, only YOU are the ball.”

The chap from PlayStation booted up the game and I got to select my RIG from a choice of 5 all with varying skill sets. Do you want to go with Speed, Armour, Damage Dealer or Support type. Of course I went for the RIG with duel gatling guns! A balance between high damage, decent armour and nimble enough to hold my own.

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Immediately you are dropped in to the RIG, able to look around the humungous hanger that acts as a lobby where other team members get added. VR is a difficult thing to describe to those who haven’t tried it, but the scale and depth is unlike anything you can get on a TV. Even a good 3D mode. I could see way up in to the rafters and it genuinely felt like a vast hangar. Flying robots would zip past over head and huge TV screens where visible too.

It’s easy to mistake RIGS for just another mech shooter, but it’s not. Far from it. It’s actually much more like a football game with a bit of Rocket League mixed in. Only YOU are the ball, only one inside a giant mechanised exoskeleton like the power loader from Aliens. On steroids!

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And then the match starts. Sweet Jesus these things are fast!

“Believe the hype. VR isn’t just a gimmick, it’s the next step in innovation and immersion and RIGS proves how to make it rollicking great fun too.”

Controls take a few seconds to acclimatise too but once you are you’ll be yelping with joy constantly at what you’re experiencing. You play with the standard Dualshock 4 controller so everything feels familiar straight off the bat. Thumbsticks are for movement and strafing, X for jumping and Triggers for firing those epic gatling guns on either arm. what I wasn’t expecting, but now completely converted to, is aiming is all down via the headset.

Ever seen the movie Blue Thunder and wished your guns would just aim wherever you looked? Yep you guessed it, that’s exactly how RIGS works and it’s stellar.

With the match under way I fluff the first few encounters (which were understandably just against bots) but before long I was racing and bouncing all over the massive stadium arena, crowds roaring almost as must as the gunfire. Then I started to get my aim down and get a few kills under my belt. Kills don’t win matches though, you need to score goals.

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With each kill you fill up your Overdrive meter. Get 3 kills and it’s full and you’re good to go for a bit of goal scoring. This is where the intensity really picks up as other players will try to stop you, by adopting defensive tactics that involve blowing the snot out of you.

The goal posts in question are in a central area of the map (at least on the map I was playing, this may vary) that looked like a giant basketball hoop. this was only accessible via the top of the map so with that Overdrive meter still full you gotta run!

I scored 2 goals by the end, wining 3-2 overall but this was without hesitation the best proper game I’ve played yet in VR. No tech demos, no passive “experiences” a proper, full throated battle cry of a game.

If you are one of the lucky ones picking up a PSVR on launch day, make sure this is you and you’re friends first title. It’s being floated as a big eSports title and it’s very easy to see why. Going for the Stadium Arena presentation tailors it perfectly for it not too mention the commentary we might here as matches get heated.

Further to all of that though, playing this with your friends will be a lot of fun as you each adopt different roles and tactics for scoring versus defending.

Believe the hype. VR isn’t just a gimmick, it’s the next step in innovation and immersion and RIGS proves how to make it rollicking great fun too.

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