We’ve made several comments about games being inundated with visitors over the course of the Yorkshire Games Fest but none fits this statement quite so much as VR title One Man Tank from New Moon Studios. For much of one morning it was swarmed by a Scout group and it took our finest queueing skills to grab a seat at their four-computer setup. We left feeling bad about making kids wait, but happy that we got to give it a go. Sorry, kids.
One Man Tank lent itself rather well to the festival crowd. As a multiplayer game, it gave people a chance to sit around the square table and, rather than participate in an individual experience, try to blow each other up. As the title suggests, each player has a tank all to themself. Using what looked like the Oculus Rift Touch controllers, they operate the tank’s controls to drive around the map and attack other players until time runs out.
It was a little odd when we first sat down, as we had to face ninety degrees away from the computer to get the right angle, but soon enough we could see the matchmaking screen, where we waited for our three opponents to come online. When they did, we loaded into our tank next to the side of a building, almost directly opposite one of the other players.
To load the tank’s cannon, we had to reach forward to a small box on the dashboard (for want of a better term) and press a button. This ejected a shell, which we could grab and drop into the loading tube. Carrying out these simple tasks was harder than it sounds, though. We’re unfamiliar with VR and kept worrying we’d punch the screen (or worse, a hovering child) if we reached forward too far. Thankfully, though, we didn’t.
Once loaded, we could drive or turn our tank using two levers in the centre of our view. Both forward sent us rattling off to the front, while having one pulled back from the other made us turn in the direction of whichever was more forward. We were surprised by how much the controls felt ‘in sync’ with our hands, as we had only used the bulkier Vive controllers before. It can be a little tricky to find the sweet spot to grab the controls, but when you do, you can range around the map to hunt down your opponents.
When we found them (well, they found us), we reached over to the right to move our periscope — which we could see out of through a screen in the centre of the dashboard — until it was lined up with the target. Sensibly enough, ‘fire’ was marked by a big, easy-to-press button. We managed to get stuck moving in circles on our second attempt, with one tank directly opposite us, so we fine-tuned the loop of collect shell – load cannon – press button – watch a kid’s tank explode – repeat.
Again, sorry kids, but you fired first.
Despite a few teething issues which are bound to happen for any game using VR technology, we enjoyed playing One Man Tank. We don’t come across multiplayer VR titles too often and the idea of sitting in your own little tank and hunting enemies with full immersion is alluring. With any hope, VR equipment is getting to the stage where it is cheap and popular enough to make match-making viable, as this must be the main concern for any multiplayer VR game.