Supermassive Games talks us through how combat works in its upcoming shooter
Hi everyone! I spent a lot of time on this project figuring out how our combat was going to work in VR and how our enemies should behave, so I’m going to talk a bit about that today.
Rush of Blood sees you strapped into the world’s most horrifying rollercoaster on a twisted dive into madness. In between stomach lurching drops and atmospheric scares, you get to come to a stop and blast away at the worst our nightmare descent has to offer. VR gunplay provided some really interesting gaming possibilities, but we needed to solve a few tricky issues first.
We challenged ourselves to omit all traditional heads-up displays. This meant ammo and score counters had to be placed in-world – in this case on the rollercoaster cart you ride in. Checking up on these things in the heat of battle could get you killed, so we show you how near you are to running out of ammo by heating the barrel of your gun. A bright orange glow and a burst of smoke lets you know that it’s time to reload.
All this extra work more than pays off when you are in the moment-to-moment gunplay. Being able to quickly assess incoming threats by looking in one direction, while blasting enemies in another, adds a new dynamic that feels natural but still takes time to master. Having the kind of dexterity and situational awareness afforded by VR when you’re surrounded by enemies is just plain thrilling, and leads us neatly on to one of the main pillars of our combat: crowd control.
Killing the momentum of your enemies is a key strategy in Until Dawn: Rush of Blood as you can’t leave the safety of your cart. Aim for the legs to slow enemies down or use a high impact weapon – like the shotgun – to knock them completely off their feet. Arms can even be blasted off to do more damage and cause enemies to drop their weapons. These tactics will give you a few more precious seconds to deal with any other threats, but sometimes a swift, skull-exploding revolver bullet between the eyes is the only way to go!
Weapon choice is important, as each gun fills a critical, well-defined role. Rush of Blood uses the motion capabilities of the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller or PS Move motion controllers to let you wield a gun in each hand, so using two different weapons on two different enemies at the same time is a tricky but vital skill. Dealing rapid damage with an Uzi in one hand, while you shotgun an enemy with the other is a very powerful combo.
This threw up some interesting challenges when it came to designing our control systems for both the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller and PS Move motion controllers. We wanted to support dual wielding on the DS4 and solved this by letting you adjust your in-game arms to switch from focusing on one enemy at a time to two.
While this accessible control scheme works well on the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller, the way two PS Move motion controllers more closely mimic your hands resulted in what we think is a more immersive and satisfying experience. It’s definitely a trickier proposition initially – and some people find the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller suits their playstyle better – but we found that wielding twin PS Move motion controllers eventually rewards those who put the time in, with a slight edge over the DUALSHOCK 4 wireless controller.
We want you to take total advantage of the freedom our controls provide, so we’ve stuffed the game full of “nightmare fuel” for you to blast into tiny pieces. Enemies will dodge your shots, take cover, overwhelm you with their numbers and then vomit burning acid sludge for you to blast out of the sky.
Because VR gives you such a natural way to look around, we designed our enemies to approach from all angles. For example, they perch themselves on higher ground and jump onto walls. I haven’t even mentioned the unique and terrifying bosses you’ll face at the end of each level, but perhaps that’s something best left unspoiled…
For those who dare to venture into our nightmare world, we salute your bravery. I hope this post illuminates some of the thinking that went into the horrors you’ll meet and the ways you’ll be sending them back to the hell that spawned them. Until then, keep one eye open and two fingers on those triggers.