Hubris is a stunning new title coming to PC VR later this year, and we’ve got our hands on it once again – this time with more combat.
At Gamescom I played through two Hubris demos – the opening sequence and a new sequence that takes place a few hours after the start of the campaign and has a much stronger focus on combat. We’ve already covered the former in another hands-on, so I won’t repeat too much of previously trodden ground other than to say that most of Jamie’s conclusions still hold true. Hubris doesn’t quite live up to the visuals of top-of-the-line titles like Half-Life: Alyx and Lone Echo II, but it gives them an amazing bang for the buck. This new combat-oriented demo, which involves traversing a rocky canyon environment, is no exception – it’s just as appealing to look at as the lush and water-rich environments we’ve seen before. One thing is clear from both demos: Hubris is visually stunning and expansive, offering a style and quality that feels shockingly close to juggernauts like Alyx.
In terms of the fighting game itself, it was a mixed bag. There are two weapon options – a standard pistol and a slightly more automatic option – both of which felt satisfying when firing and aiming, with good haptic feedback and a satisfying click feel on all actions. The method of reloading is also resourceful – you simply hold the gun upright next to your head, which will reload your weapon over time. You can choose to partially reload and fire in short bursts, or listen to a well-crafted audio cue that shows the progress of the reload and gives a distinct click when the weapon 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 a similarly thoughtful mechanic – reach down your back, pull out a health drink, and physically exercise by drinking it down. Plus, you can see how much liquid is left in the bottle, so you can drink just one serving if you only need a refill. Hubris is certainly not the first VR game to feature this type of healing item consuming mechanic, but it’s well implemented here.
In the fight itself, things get a little more disappointing. The guns are certainly satisfying to fire, and the guns are quite responsive to use. However, the AI and encounter design feel a little lackluster. In my demo, I experienced loads of 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 initially – but after about 15 minutes of doing the same thing it feels like it’s repetitive.
Add to that the pretty awful AI, which often saw enemies just standing still or forgot they even saw me after I ducked back into cover. Some enemies walked around looking for me while others stood in one place and didn’t bother looking for me. Enemies seem limited overall and rarely engage in combat unless I was in their line of sight. It wasn’t abysmal – I’ve played through a lot worse – but it felt particularly out of place given how polished the environments and gameplay otherwise are. It lowers the level of immersion and feels more like a programmed game than a constructed virtual world.
Despite these issues, the combat never stops being fun – it might have been a bit repetitive, but the guns feel satisfying enough to shoot that overall I still enjoyed myself. Between the earlier demo and this new combat-oriented demo, there’s a lot to love about Hubris, but also some areas for improvement. It will be interesting to see if the game can step out of the shadow of its ancestors and find its own place in the PC VR pantheon.
Hubris is due out for PC VR in 2022, with a Quest version coming at a later date.
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