Developer: Bit Planet Games
Publisher: Bit Planet Games
Genre: Adventure, Flying, Simulation
Platform: Oculus Quest
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 21/05/2019
Price: £10.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Every now and then, I have a recurring dream. A dream of escape, freedom and risk. I know for a fact that this dream isn’t real, and that what happens in that dream will never happen; but strangely, I found myself reliving that dream after playing Ultrawings on the Oculus Quest.
What was that dream?
Flying above the clouds. Soaring through the air at ridiculous speeds doing way-out-of-my-league stunts. It’s strange how something as simple (or possibly not so) as an Arcade/Flight-Simulation VR game could elicit the same reactions and feelings as what I feel just before I wake up from those dreams. But what is Ultrawings? Is it first and foremost an Arcade game or a Flight Simulation game?
That’s where I feel like Ultrawings didn’t hit the mark for me – it tended to have an identity crisis – which at first, definitely bothered me, but as I progressed through the game and got my head around the gameplay, controls and overall feel, this identity crisis slowly faded away and I found myself fully immersed flying around tropical islands completing fun activities or roaming wherever I please.
It’s Ultrawing’s sense of progression that kept me sticking around. You play as a pilot looking to try all kinds of fun activities. Its activity-based mission system reminded me a lot of Pilotwings, a game that it clearly draws most of its inspiration from. Each mission will give you a certain amount of money based on how well you completed it. It is score-based and in this sense, going back and beating yours or friends scores can be great fun. Once you’ve accumulated enough money you can spend it on new airports (that in turn open up new missions and game modes) and more importantly, new aircraft to pilot – all 4 of which offer new playstyles, controls and challenges.
The progression is quite linear in the sense that you will most likely progress how you are told to by the narrators, however, the freedom is there if you wish you purchase different airports or different aircraft instead. It is a true progression system that you would find in other console-experience games, something I don’t find often in VR titles.
The game suits well for many different types of playstyles. It’s recommended to play sitting down, of course. I found myself enjoying the game not only in small bursts each evening but also in an hour or two long play sessions where I would become totally addicted to the adrenaline rush of piloting a new craft doing silly stunts or seeing how fast I could complete challenges.
The game also comes pre-equipped with three comfort settings and two control settings. The comfort settings essentially tell you how open your cockpit is, how much of the world you can see. If you are afraid of heights or get super motion sick, then having the highest comfort (where you can basically only see ahead of you) is recommended. I played on the lowest, where you have a full 360-degree view of everything around you and needless to say, it is absolutely breathtaking.
The control methods are fairly simple, you have Arcade and Simulation. Arcade is very simple to control and doesn’t allow very many quick or effective manoeuvres. Once getting my head around Arcade I quickly switched to Simulation. It’s a lot more finicky and a bit more sensitive, but controlling the aircraft felt marginally more responsive and fun to master.
Ultrawings built immersiveness through speed, challenge and, honestly, just pure adrenaline boost. Many times I would be going 100 knots down the side of a volcano and I’d just say,
‘Screw it, I want to do a barrel roll.’
Those times where I’d say something like that wouldn’t be because I’m bored, but because I felt like my skills were built enough for me to do something so marvellously outrageous at the risk of a headache. I’d scream, I’d grind my teeth, hell, at one point I even jolted, but this just further proves the fun and true immersion I felt playing Ultrawings. If you want to up it even further and really feel like you’re nose-diving towards the ocean at 100 knots a second, face a large fan on full power towards you. Then, tell me if you have guts.
Ultrawings did have a couple of glaring issues right off the bat. No matter how you calibrate your guardian or floor level, it sits you in a very odd and uncomfortable position in the aircraft. You don’t really sit on the seat with the stick in between your legs, but rather sit behind the seat, with the stick far in front of you. Additionally, adding a toggle for left and right-handed people would have been fantastic as often I struggled with managing some planes controls when I was using that hand on the stick.
In some missions, if there were many different entities on the screen such as flight targets, balloons and whatnot, I would see a sudden dip in framerate, but this only happened a couple of times during my playthrough and luckily I was going quite slow, to begin with. However, I could see that if these spikes happened during high-speed flight, it could mess with your head.
Ultrawings blended the Arcade and Flight Simulation genre in a way that at first, would seem atypical, but as you continue to experience the progression, controls and gameplay it becomes clear that Ultrawings soars above just a few missions to replay over and over – it shows just how easily you can experience something so outlandish and dangerous so effectively through two little OLED panels attached to your face. It has its issues, but that doesn’t detract from the fun I had playing Ultrawings. After all, it felt like something I had only ever experienced during a dream.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Ultrawings from the Oculus Store on the following link, https://www.oculus.com/experiences/quest/1798409083604479/?locale=en_GB