Solaris: Offworld Combat
Developer: First Contact Entertainment
Publisher: First Contact Entertainment
Genre: Action, Shooter, Sport
Platform: Oculus Rift
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 24/09/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
In 2018, First Contact Entertainment released Firewall Zero Hour, a realistic team-based shooter, for the Playstation VR. First Contact have now released the pre-season of Solaris: Offworld Combat. Whilst this shooting game does share similarities to the previous title, Solaris takes a much more arcadey approach, ditching realism for accessibility. Find out my thoughts in this pre-season (early access) Rapid Review.
Solaris teams you up with three other players with a single objective: capture the control point. In my time playing, I found it easy to find people to play with and the matchmaking seemed to work well. There were a few times where I had to wait for the final player but these moments were few and far between.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to play with Oculus friends in Solaris; there is simply no invite option so although I did have a friend who owned a copy of the game, I had to play with strangers.
Point and Shoot
The core gunplay of Solaris is stripped back to basics. Rather than the need for complicated scopes and reload patterns, firing a gun is simply a case of point and shoot. This simple operation made Solaris remind me of a game of laser tag. As soon as an enemy appeared in my viewpoint, I pointed my sci-fi gun, pressed down on my trigger and hoped for the best. Personally, I enjoyed this simple control scheme mainly due to the speed and accessibility but I can understand how someone who prefers more nuance may be disappointed.
Perhaps the strangest feature of Solaris is the tracking of just a single arm. The offhand isn’t tracked so this results in a weird non-responsive arm taking up the peripheral vision. I’m unsure why this feature was introduced; it’s by no means a deal-breaker but is odd to see.
Control and Motion
Movement and turning in Solaris is controlled by using the thumbstick and plays in a very fast-paced manner. The speed means that you need to have your “VR legs”. Solaris most certainly isn’t for new VR players and/or those that suffer from motion sickness. I don’t suffer from VR sickness and thus disabled the movement vignette. As just mentioned, there are comfort settings but I can’t imagine them making too much difference if you’re already easily susceptible to motion sickness.
Because a lot of the movement in combat comes down to evading or chasing enemies, speed is of the utmost importance. To control my route, I moved my head in the direction I wanted to head to. When speed was required (which, to be honest, was most of the time) a button is pressed to sprint, adding extreme speed. Crouching is also useful when evading enemies but is mapped to the same button as sprint. Because I had enough space, instead of pressing a button to crouch; I physically ducked. Actually crouching helped with the immersion but the option of using a button is available for those who’d prefer to play seating or struggle with space.
The Future of Gaming?
Playing Solaris made me feel like I was experiencing the future of VR. The sleek modern visuals and fast-moving combat played like a genuine sport. With a rise in esports, I can see Solaris being broadcasted on large stadium screens.
The game has a HUD which serves as a helmet interface, offering important information such as health levels. This interface is such a small feature in the grand scheme of things but, as cliché as it sounds, I genuinely felt as if I was inside “the Oasis” from Ready Player One, completely engrossed in a new competitive world. In fact, with my attention drawn to the action, I couldn’t even read the information on the HUD but seeing the futuristic lines and vitals in my peripheral vision was a simple but effective feature.
Solaris: Offworld Combat strips a shooter back to its basics with simple goals, a reliance on teamwork and literal point and shoot controls. I’m excited for the future of the game as the current pre-season state is already impressive. It’s nailed the fundamentals but with the promised social features, new maps, weapons and more, Solaris is shaping up to be something out of this world.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Solaris : Offworld Combat here : Oculus Store
You can read our VR game reviews over at vrgamecritic.