Charlie loves her video games as much as she loves dumb, charming JRPG protagonists: probably way too much. You can often catch her spending too much time being emotional over LGBT stories in games. She also thinks Yakuza 6 is the best one.
I’ve yet to really find a solid Multiplayer VR game that has an ‘in-and-out’ nature; that is, until I got to experience duel shooter Blaston. It’s quite the fast-paced, tense action that’s quite different from other VR FPS games this year. Thanks to that, it’s all the more welcome.
Blaston frankly offers something I haven’t quite seen before in VR. You control a half robot half knight type character, all with an arsenal of weapons at your disposal. Jump into an online match and you’re positioned in an arena atop a small platform, opposite your opponent. You have but one job: quickly cycle through all weapons available to you at an arms reach, dodging and landing your own blows. Whittle down their health to 0 and you win that round. Win two rounds and you’ve won the match. Really, it’s a fun and arcade-y concept that is so simple yet works so well.
As I mentioned, these matches really are over in a moment’s notice. That’s another note in Blaston’s favour. Wearing a large VR headset on your head, though immersive, isn’t really ideal for long periods of time. The in-and-out nature of the game, however, means you can take out whatever you put into the game. An intense gamer looking to work up those ranks? There’s room for you to train to do so. Want a spare 10-15 minutes to mess around in? Blaston’s great for that.
Being like a majority of the FPS games in VR, Blaston isn’t the most smooth or perfect. Thankfully, this, for the most part, works in the game’s favour. Start off a match and you and your opponent will often have this awkward scramble of grabbing the first weapon in sight. This then also becomes an awkward but comical dance of wanting to get your weapon as quickly as possible, but not wanting to fire your shot too soon. Pull the trigger too soon (especially when using a gun with slow firing power), and you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to your foe easily dodging and sinking a shot on you.
Really, that’s the most unsmooth the game gets: frantic fumbling for guns to hopefully fire them quickly and accurately soon after. The hilarity that comes with these unsmooth motions that’s a result of you definitely not being on your toes is all the more worth it.
“Start off a match and you and your opponent will often have this awkward scramble of grabbing the first weapon in sight.”
Blaston’s more noticeable fault is that it’s quite barebones, offering only two modes in the form of private sessions for friends and ranked matches. Ranked matches help level you up, inevitably earning more character skins, emblems and weapons at your disposal, so there’s enough progression in that regards. VR is a game not without plenty of boundaries, but I still would’ve liked to see more modes to mess around in. Even if it was as simple as a 2v2 mode, it would’ve gone a long way for the player.
Otherwise, Blaston is surprisingly strategic in its gameplay. Upon perusing your arsenal, you’ll learn different weapons have different cooldown times as well as bullet counts. Use up all the ammunition in a weapon and you’ll have to dispose of it, with the item disappearing until the weapon cooldown ends. With how fast-paced matches are and how likely you’ll be to burn through ammo, you’d do well to pick weapons with quick cooldown times. Pistols, shotguns, rail guns that’ll shoot static rays of electricity and grenades are just some of the weaponry you’ll have on offer. Ideally, you want to prioritise items that fire projectiles that’ll make your foe’s screen busy and thus harder to dodge.
Lastly, Blaston is another game in the long line-up of VR titles that is excellent in disguising physical activity in its gameplay. With all the dodging, ducking and weaving you’ll be doing, it’s quite easy to work up a sweat. You’ll also do so while having a boatload of fun. In fact, turning and twisting your body in bizarre ways will help you minimise the damage you take. Turn your body a nice 45 degrees and you’re likely to dodge projectiles, watching them pass you by. Master it and you’ll feel like your own Neo from The Matrix; a combat god.
Soaked in neon lights and bright colours, Blaston is absolutely oozing with style. Look to the audience and you’ll find legless robots with arms and a head hovering in the seats. They’re designed in unique ways: be it a rogue-ish knight with glowing armour or a nice little get up with a sugar skull-styled head. Witness bright and colourful projectiles fly by you as they’re fired from your enemy’s gun. So much style and colour shines through in Blaston and it does it quite well for the small scope the game offers.
As mentioned earlier, you too can customise your own character. You can quite well fit in with the audience’s style or just appear all the more flashy to show off to your foes. I really am a sucker for games that have you working towards getting more pretty gear to show off to others, and I’m especially thankful that the loop this game has you in to do so just works.
Blaston is, well, a blast. Sure it’s a bit barebones but it’s also a game with a scope small enough it has the potential to be a VR regular you’ll revisit often. The community around the game is one worth engaging in too. A lot of joy comes out of little waves to your opponent before and after matches, and even high fives and fist bumps that register. It’s adorable. Blaston is adorable.
If you’re looking for a VR game that’s a good time killer, this is absolutely the way to go. With a very affordable price tag of $15AUD, decent community, fun gameplay and seasons along with levelling up to engage with, why not battle it out?
Blaston is available now for Oculus Quest – check it out.