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A round in the pilot’s chair of Archangel: Hellfire on the HTC Vive

The Archangel: Hellfire Early Access Battle Training is live, and I got to play a round of 2v2 Team Deathmatch in the icy Collins Base battlefield. I’ve already written pretty extensively about the mechanics in the Hellfire update on the Oculus, so I’m going to skip detailing the whole host of weapons, abilities, and off-rails goodness in this article, and instead focus on details specific to playing on the HTC Vive.

While the Oculus Rift comes with thumbsticks which are incredibly familiar to any seasoned gamer, the Vive Wands come with circle pads which require a more delicate touch. Just like on the Oculus, the left circle pad controls movement while the right one will turn the cab of your mech. The snap turning makes this a pretty easy process, though I found myself very prone to over-turning and over-correcting when using the circle pads.

You also have to play very gently with the left circle pad, as you use ten energy to jump/levitate every time you press it. It’s far easier to accidentally levitate on the Vive Wands than it is with the Oculus controls, and I found myself inadvertently defying gravity whenever I got a little too eager to run towards or away from an enemy mech.

Shiels are activated by squeezing the side buttons on the wands, which I actually found easier to use than the second set of triggers on the Oculus controls. Switching weapons requires pushing the small button above the wheel, which isn’t the easiest to hit, but could potentially help new players avoid the button confusion of the dual buttons of the Oculus controller.

While the controls are slightly different, the basic gameplay is much the same. Having played on both the Vive and the Oculus, I feel that the controls feel more natural on the Oculus controller, but if you can learn to use a lighter touch on the circle pads, there are no real disadvantages to playing it on the Vive.

Skydance Interactive has created an off-rails experience which is both incredibly mobile and mostly motion-sickness free. I never experienced any problems while playing, but I did experience a little bit of a spinning head once I took the visor off after several matches. The presence of the helicopter-like cockpit does wonders to make you feel grounded, in control, and prevent nausea.

The game is intense, fun, and while the many features, tools, weapons, and controls can produce a slightly overwhelming first game or two, it’s easy enough to pick up, but a challenge to master the micromanaging and tactics that will launch your mech to victory. But don’t take my word for it, check out the video above for a pilots-eye view of Archangel: Hellfire in action, or check out my earlier hands-on article for more detailed information on the many features of this expansion.

Archangel: Hellfire Early Access Battle Training is available now to anyone with a copy of the base Archangel game on Steam or Oculus, and will run until June 28th, when the Hellfire expansion will go live to the world.

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