It’s 15 Years and 364 days since the world went to hell in a hand basket. The snowbreed rule the surface and the surviving humans form their resistance underground where it’s still warm. As a runner it’s your job to venture to the surface to scavenge and harvest or die trying in After the Fall.
After the Fall from Vertigo Studios is a cooperative shooter in the same vein as Left 4 Dead or, more recently, Back 4 Blood. Rather than the comfort of your chair however, After the Fall is designed for full VR immersion with up to four friends. It’s not the studios first foray into either VR or Zombie/Undead territory either since this is the team who previously released Arizona Sunshine so there’s some great heritage here at play.
Foregoing a single path story, After the Fall instead opts for an overarching narrative supported by a mission based structure across a number of levels or runs. Each run can be played by up to four players and at any time spare slots are filled by AI companions. Initial missions have you simply completing runs to gain more funds with which to unlock weapons or to further customise weapons you already own.
Repeating runs is a core part of the experience and is a hard requirement for upgrading your weapons and maxing out their potential. Higher difficulty not only increases the challenge but also the reward; with rare attachments and unlocks hidden within the levels in addition to increased amounts of Harvest per kill. The AI companions can only really take you so far though and you’ll need an experienced team to tackle the more challenging difficulties.
Starting out with a simple pistol, it’s not long before you can pick up more weapons. You can go akimbo at any time with nearly any weapon but you are likely sacrificing accuracy with rifles if you try wielding them in one hand. You can also store two weapons in your inventory at any time over and above the two in your hands, which is great since ammo can be scarce in some areas and having different weapons which use different types of ammo relieves some of the pressure.
Runs take place in a specific area and are usually a mix of indoor and outdoor sections both with their own subtleties. Indoor sections tend to be more claustrophobic with winding corridors and multi room paths within the abandoned post apocalyptic ruins. Branching rooms hide any number of nasties or collectables so it’s well worth taking the time to get off the obvious path to hunt down the rewards.
Outdoors there’s usually better line of sight but there’s a higher chance of a swarm of snowbreed appearing to swamp you with clumps of them climbing over crumbling walls, dropping from windows or out of the building you need to progress through.
To prevent running directly to an objective, After the Fall sections off parts of a run through use of decayed tendrils which block passage and cannot be destroyed until enemies have been dispatched. Other objectives are sometimes added to complicate matters whilst the Snowbreed attacks in numbers or it could be to simply survive and defeat a specific enemy.
Most runs tend to end in a final stand where multiple waves of Snowbreed attack within a confined area. It’s generally topped off with an aggressive boss enemy who always takes a large amount of ammo to dispatch whilst you run around the arena dodging fairly damaging attacks and fending off the minor enemies.
Graphically there is obviously a difference between the platforms on offer but the gameplay and mechanics are identical across the board, it’s just the detail in level textures and model designs. PC VR offers the definitive experience in terms of graphical fidelity with PS VR coming in a close second. With the Oculus Quest 2; the platform has the least graphical prowess but still pumps out a great looking game that’s silky smooth to play.
Playing with friends is where After the Fall excels, Lobbying is simple and although cross play comes out of the box it can be a little awkward waiting for the different loading times on each platform. In general you don’t notice it until someone on a fast PC plays with a Quest user and lets you know. Tactical weapon choices and the ability to heal your friends is much more interactive, strategic and outright fun when there’s no AI involved.
After the Fall is a great multiplayer experience that proves that cross play is the only way forward for cross platform releases. It’s fast and frantic with some great level and weapon designs that feel suitably weighty. At maximum settings it’s pretty on the eyes but even then the gameplay shines on any platform.
After the Fall is out now on PC VR, PS VR and Oculus Quest.