Raw Data has happily settled in as the reigning position of popular VR game in my office. Demolishing wave after wave of artificially intelligent androids is our preferred method of stress relief, even if one person has sworn off the game entirely after a drone-like robot latched onto his face, resulting in a Vive headset being thrown across the room. We all collectively agreed that Raw Data was the best VR experience out there… then Survious released a best test of its new player versus player mode, and blew all of us away.
Survious faced a rather huge challenge when transforming its immersive virtual reality shooter into a multi player environment. The original game was brilliantly crafted to allow players to remain mostly stationary within a small space, something perfectly suited for the current restraints of most VR setups. Lack of movement does not lend themselves well to a PVP environment, where running around, hiding from, avoiding, evading, and jumping on your enemy is not only important to survival, it’s half the fun.
Hostile Takeover, Raw Data’s PvP mode, has large maps with plenty of hiding spaces and multiple levels which players navigate using the circle pad on the left Vive wand. Acting as a D-pad, players ‘skate’ around the map, including climbing up stairs and jumping off platforms, in a motion that is smooth, but is a bit more prone to motion-sickness than the main game. While I was able to play a half a dozen rounds, this ‘skating’ movement caught up to me rather quickly, especially when I peered over an edge and into what appeared to be a misty, bottomless void. An accidental tap of the D-pad sent me falling into what turned out to actually be a bottomless void, one which I continued to fall through as the respawn counter ticked away, requiring me to close my eyes or feel my stomach turning flips as I fell through empty, misty space for thirty seconds.
Matches are quick and incredibly fun, with a swift matchmaker that has you lobbied up with your teammates almost as soon as you select ‘join match.’ The game plays out rather like capture the flag, with red versus blue teams which are randomly assigned. Pick your character, which also determines your weapon, and you spawn inside a room, closed in by colored barriers. Each spawn room has several exits, allowing you several routes into the map, and helping prevent the endless camping of the spawn point.
Once the match starts, the barrier dissolves and you’re free to roam and take out your opponents, collect valuable power ups, and complete the ultimate goal of finding a data point and securing it for your team. Securing data takes time, and all players on the map are notified once the process has begun, making this a high risk position to hold. Once a team successfully secures the data, that team officially wins the match, making it incredibly important to find and eliminate opponents and defend teammates who are undertaking this task. Fortunately, you are still able to move around and even fight while the data downloads, so you’re not entirely helpless.
The maps are gorgeous, especially the new area featuring Eden Corp.’s Botanical Gardens. With pink trees, huge rock gardens, and blue skies, it’s unlike any other map in Raw Data, and a refreshing, if not distractingly beautiful setting. These settings are also home to valuable power ups which can give you a distinct advantage, if you are able to find and secure them. Just like in the original, you’ll still be using your whole body to duck away from enemies, swing your katana, reload your pistol or shotgun, or draw your bow, only now it will be that much more intense, as you’ll be playing with up to nine other people in real time.
While I only got a half a dozen games in, I already found myself memorizing the layouts of maps, picking out my preferred hiding spots, and figuring out the best way to coordinate with other players. I blinked in and out of games so quickly, moving from one match to the next, that I sometimes forgot which team I was on and opened fire on my teammates once or twice. Fortunately, friendly fire isn’t a thing in this mode, so I did little more than potentially give enemies an audio clue as to my location. I found myself eager for more time and a stomach made of sterner stuff, so that I could dive back into the world of Raw Data’s Hostile Takeover.
“Our players have been clamoring for PvP ever since Raw Data’s earliest demos,” Mike McTyre, Survios game design director, said in a statement. The Raw Data Rogue Update is now live, expanding the world to include a fifth playable character of the SyndiK8 team, Elder, the Rogue Hunter, the beautiful Eden Corp Botanical Gardens, as well as the intense Hostile Takeover PvP mode. With the franchise now including its own comic book, Promotion Material, Survios seems discontent with its already impressive accomplishment of being the first VR title to make $1 million, and continues to expand Raw Data, creating an experience which is ever expanding and immersive. You can learn more about Raw Data at the Steam store.