Vigor quietly launched into Early Access on the Xbox Store last month, offering up a unique take on the survival genre. Bohemia Interactive isn’t new to the genre by any means, with history like ARMA 3 and DayZ already under their belts. This console exclusive allows you to loot and shoot with the goal to build a strong shelter and ultimately survive in 1991 post-war Norway.
The premise itself is fine, as you choose your avatar and wake up to learn the absolute basics before wandering over to your new home base. This shelter is where you’ll be upgrading, crafting weapons and gearing up for expeditions to find more loot and supplies; a process that is repeated across different maps with other hostile players.
This is where the essence of survival truly comes into play. This isn’t like Conan Exiles in the sense that your shelter is able to be attacked or messed with on an instanced map, or even visible to other players at all. The PVP elements, where you need to gather resources while killing other players, are separate instances that you load into; almost like individual matches.
There is a massive risk versus reward mechanic in Vigor that is as simple to learn as it is devastating to suffer from. If you get killed while exploring the map, you lose all of the weapons, ammunition, healing products and resources you’ve collected, along with the ones you’ve brought with you. Killing another player means you get to raid their stash. All the while, radiation comes in causing damage, forcing you to act quickly and make decisions on the fly depending on where you spawn.
Maps themselves look stunning, visually. It’s easily the best looking survival game I’ve seen when it comes to detailed environments and weather effects. Unfortunately, the combat portion of the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired, which is especially frustrating when the stakes are sometimes very high.
Shooting feels flaky, and I often find myself “spraying and praying” rather than getting the chance to turn and look down my sights. If you are snuck up on from behind, you also die very quickly, leaving very little room for any redemption. It feels like PUBG, actually – while there may not be 100 players on the map (it’s probably more like 10 at any given time), you can often play for several minutes at a time without seeing anybody, only to be killed quickly without ever seeing your attacker. You can only play alone at the moment, so no duos or squads yet – which adds to the pressure but also means there is a slight issue with players teaming up in games anyway, causing a major disadvantage.
“…good adrenaline rush when you do have the loot you so desire , making a beeline for the map exit…”
You’re meant to be funneled into the same area as other players in order to collect a supply drop with better goodies, but honestly I found it more beneficial just avoiding that conflict altogether because the shooting feels so inconsistent. It does however still manage to provide a good adrenaline rush when you do have the loot you so desire and are making a beeline for the map exit without getting chased down.
So we’re left with a game that has strong concepts and a pretty addictive gameplay loop, but without a super solid gameplay foundation to back it up. Vigor is set to be free when it eventually launches out of early access in 2019, but until then you’re absolutely purchasing a product that has great potential, but still needs some refinement to make it must-have.
Still, with a true overdose of battle royale games flooding the market, a tighter and more focused experience provides a good change of pace; even a breath of fresh (radiation) air. If they can make appropriate changes and improve its core mechanics, it could turn out to be something pretty special. Vigor is available now, exclusively on Xbox One with a Founders Pack available.