Hubris is a stunning new title coming to PC VR later this year and we’ve gotten our hands dirty yet again – this time with more combat.
At Gamescom I played two Hubris demos – the opening sequence and a new sequence set a few hours into the campaign that puts a lot more emphasis on combat. We’ve already covered the first in another hands-on exercise, so I won’t repeat too much on the ground, except to say that most of Jamie’s conclusions still hold true. Hubris doesn’t quite match the visuals of top-tier titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Lone Echo II, but it gives them an incredible run for their money. This new combat-focused demo, featuring traversal through a rocky canyon environment, is no exception – it’s just as eye-pleasing as the lush, water-laden environments we’ve seen previously. Of the two demos, one thing is clear: Hubris is visually stunning and expansive, offering a style and quality that feels surprisingly close to behemoths like Alyx.
In terms of combat gameplay itself, it was a mixed bag. There are two gun options – a standard pistol and a slightly more automatic option – which are both satisfying for shooting and aiming, with good haptic feedback and a satisfying click feel for all actions. The reloading method is also inventive – you simply hold the gun upright next to your head, which gradually reloads your weapon over time. You can choose to partially reload and fire in short bursts, or listen to a well-designed audio cue that indicates reloading progress and will give a distinctive click when the gun is fully loaded. It’s a great example of intuitive VR design and works wonders in the heat of battle.
You can also restore your health in the middle of an encounter with an equally thoughtful mechanic – lie on your back, pull out a health drink, and act physically drinking it. Plus, you can see how much liquid is left inside the bottle, so you can drink just one serving if you only need to top up. Hubris certainly isn’t the first VR game to include this kind of mechanic for consuming healing items, but it’s well implemented here.
The combat itself is where things get a bit more underwhelming. The guns are certainly satisfying to shoot and the weapons are quite engaging to use. However, the AI and encounter design looks a bit lackluster. In my demo, I went through many encounters with the same generic drones and Space Guard enemies, all set in very similar environments. It’s not that the fight isn’t fun – it certainly is at first – but after about 15 minutes of doing the same thing, it started to repeat itself.
This is compounded by the pretty terrible AI, which often saw enemies standing still or forgetting they even saw me after I retreated to cover. Some enemies were walking around and looking for me, while others were standing in one place and not bothering to look for me. Enemies seem, on the whole, limited in range and rarely engaged in combat unless I’m in their line of sight. It wasn’t abysmal – I’ve played much worse – but it felt particularly out of place, given how polished the environments and gameplay are otherwise. This reduces the level of immersion and starts to feel more like a programmed game than a constructed virtual world.
Despite these issues, the combat never ceases to be fun – it may have gotten a little repetitive, but the weapons are satisfying enough to shoot that I still had fun overall. Between the previous demo and this combat-focused new one, there’s a lot to like about Hubris, but also some areas for improvement. It will be interesting to see if the game can emerge from the shadow of its ancestors and find its own place in the PC VR pantheon.
Hubris is due out in 2022 for PC VR, with a Quest release to follow at a later date.