I’m a big fan of First Contact Entertainment’s Firewall Zero Hour, even if it barely functions half the time. I can’t begin to tell you how many hours have been spent just trying to get into a match in that game, yet I still hold it dear to my VR-loving heart.
Solaris Offworld Combat is the second venture from the developer and it follows a few trends set by Firewall, but not many, and it’s certainly not as good.
Solaris Offworld Combat is a team-based shooter with a simple futuristic sci-fi aesthetic. The visuals are basic, as are the maps, and it reminded me a lot of going to Laser Quest as a kid. Raised platforms, slopes leading to and from defend and attack zones, minimalistic walls and cover spots – it’s Laser Quest in VR, basically. But, crucially, it’s not as fun.
The similarities with Firewall Zero Hour are few. It’s 4 versus 4 again, and, again, the developer has managed to cock up the most simplest of things: playing with your mates. At the time of writing, there’s no party function, though apparently, this will come later. On the other hand, I have zero faith in First Contact to implement it well, and they’ve only themselves to blame. First impressions count for a lot, and Firewall, despite being one of my favourite PSVR games ever, has tarnished the developer in my eyes. We’ll see though, maybe they’ll get it right this time around?
The game only tracks one motion controller, which is very, very odd. I understand the reason though. Solaris Offworld Combat will eventually release on PSVR, which will either use the PSVR Aim controller or the DualShock 4. These are single-tracked devices, so to keep parity between all version, First Contact has opted to drop the tracking for the left controller on the Quest.
While I understand that, I still don’t like it. It means that your left in-game hand is always stuck to whichever weapon you’re using, even if your real-life hand is scratching your bum. It messed with my head a little bit too much and even when I moved my hands closer together to mimic the action of steadying a pistol, it didn’t feel right. Things got worse when I got my first gun pick up – a rifle – and I had no way of mimicking that action. The game wants you to use the left controller purely as a movement stick and the right controller as your shooting hand. It’s not nice and I doubt I’ll ever be able to play the game comfortably on the Quest. This could be different on PSVR with the Aim controller as it’ll definitely feel a little more natural, but on the Quest, it’s a simple no thanks.
Gameplay isn’t all that great either. It’s a big departure from the realistic Firewall Zero Hour. There are no game modes, lobbies, or much of anything, actually. You hit the play button and get thrown in with whoever else is playing. The game’s single mode (yes, again, a single mode) is simple; go to control points on the map, hold those areas and collect points, kill the opposition if they try to take it back. The team with the most points at the end wins. It’s hardly original.
The gunplay is on another level of poor. Rather than having any proper aiming, you “aim” by moving a reticule around on the screen. This was a massive distraction for me and I did not gel with it at all. It honestly felt like I was playing a Wii game inside a VR headset. This means there’s no skill involved. It’s simply a case of who can get their cursor over their opponent first and pull the shoot trigger. When compared to other great Quest VR games, like Onward and Pavlov VR, Solaris feels like a dumbed-down experience catering to the lowest common denominator.
Graphically it’s quite good, I’ll concede that, but graphics don’t make a game. Good gameplay makes a game. Good gameplay, immersion and fun make a great game. Solaris is lacking in all areas, and, unlike Firewall where updates improved the game, I don’t think Solaris has a leg to stand on.
Solaris Offworld Combat Oculus Quest Review
Overall - Bad - 4/10
First Contact’s second offering is a third-rate VR shooter that bungles the simplest of things that have become the norm for every other VR shooter.
- Graphics are nice and clean on the Quest’s display
- Pew-pew laser gun sound effects are fun
- Tracking only one controller is a sin and should be punishable by law in this day and age
- You can’t play with your friends during “pre-season” read: paid beta
- Gameplay is poor with no skill involved. Literally akin to moving a cursor on a Wii game
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Reviewed using Oculus Quest.