RIGS Mechanized Combat League PSVR
Guerrilla has achieved the seemingly impossible. RIGS, the studio’s futuristic PSVR sport game, fails to induce the fit of vomiting we fear will follow in the wake of our dizzying opening minutes of play. This is despite the serious demands it makes on your brain’s positional certitude – you’ll dash-strafe, double-jump and quick-turn around multilayered arenas in an effort to keep track of five other players and, in one game type, repeatedly hurl yourself through an oversized goal hoop. It’s a game-design document that reads like a checklist of what not to do in VR, but somehow it all hangs together without incident.
That’s not to say RIGS is an easy ride: players with particularly sensitive constitutions are likely to suffer when the pacy matches spool up, and even those who consider themselves to be made of sturdier stuff will want to take regular breaks. But Guerrilla’s combination of head-controlled vehicle turning, subtle tunnelling (where your field of view is temporarily reduced during fast manoeuvres), and optional full masking during ejection sequences – so you don’t have to watch the arena rapidly shrink away beneath you after losing a rig to opposition fire – ensure that the game’s robotic acrobatics remain significantly more comfortable in action than they have any right to be.
Guerrilla starts things off gently with an extensive, patiently paced tutorial that gradually introduces your rig’s capabilities and tentatively tests your stomach’s limits while warning you before demonstrating anything that might wrench you out of your comfort zone, then checking if you want to keep the new settings or revert to something gentler. Despite its achievements regarding comfort, Guerilla’s careful not to overload new players by revealing the extent of its ambition too soon.
We’d urge you to keep your eyes open while being flung out of your wreck, however, otherwise you’ll miss the view. The sprawling arenas are spectacular: Nevada’s venue is built in the shadow of a now-decommissioned Hoover Dam; the Dubai stadium sits amid skyscrapers, moored hyper yachts, and a space elevator; a colossal, shimmering casino is built on top of Macau’s semiindoor arena; and Rio De Janeiro’s matches take place on a rocky, cliffside outcrop that overlooks the city. The titular rigs are a handsome collection, too, each a conglomerate of shiny painted metal panels, matteblack hydroformed frameworks, and exposed springs, pistons and fans. They look like the robot form of what was once an F1 car or powerboat, poised for speed, manoeuvrability and no small amount of shunting.
There are four basic rigs on offer. The Tempest sports two anti-gravity rings on its shoulders, which allow it to glide over long distances once launched into the air. The Hunter class uses its speed and compact form to outrun opponents and lose larger rigs by ducking into low-ceilinged tunnels. The Mirage, our favourite, is a lanky machine that can double jump. And the Sentinel is the tank class, a heavy unit that can soak up damage and is equipped with a charging vertical jump – charge it fully before launching and you’ll generate a thunderous, damaging shockwave on landing.
These basic rigs are available in various setups, each offering a different combination of weapons and a unique special ability. The Vampire capability, for example, allows you to regain armour after taking down an opponent; Carapace grants you a rear-facing shield that blocks everything bar melee attacks; and the panic-inducing Nuke option leaves a timed explosive mine after the rig’s demise. But whichever rig you choose, the basic moveset remains unchanged. Tapping either L1 or R1 will make you dash sideways, the triggers are reserved for left and right weapons, R3 activates a melee attack (which can be also be used as a forward boost), and X activates your rig’s particular jump ability. Aiming is handled by looking where you want to fire, and you steer your rig the same way. You can also redirect power to your rigs’ various systems using the Square, Triangle and Circle buttons – an essential skill to master if you want to remain competitive. Switching to Impact mode allows you to do significantly more damage at the cost of having to plod along, whereas Turbo reduces your firing capacity in exchange for some life-saving speed. Once damaged, you’ll have to find an opportune moment to switch to the vulnerable Repair mode to reinstate your hull’s integrity. Take down enough enemies or collect enough power spheres in a row without being destroyed and you’ll enter Overdrive mode, in which all three of your ships’ systems receive a boost simultaneously, giving you a temporary advantage.
Achieving this state is also how you score points in Power Slam, the most enjoyable of RIGS’s trio of 3v3 modes. Once in Overdrive, you must drop through the giant hoop at the centre of the arena without being destroyed (or hit by a mech with the Knockout melee ability). Endzone is more like rugby than basketball, with each team dashing to collect a virtual ball before carrying it to a goal at the opposite end of the arena; it can also be passed between team members using L3. Team Takedown, meanwhile, is essentially a team deathmatch mode. All three modes are frantically enjoyable and arenas are subtly altered for each, but Endzone’s reliance on continual team communication means that it suffers when played against AI.
RIGS is a compact but deep package, then, and one executed with a confidence that belies its launch-game status. Whether it’s enough to convince the masses to shell out £350 on a headset is another matter, but in RIGS Guerrilla has created a game of future sports that every PSVR owner should explore.
Keep your eyes open while being flung out of your wreck, otherwise you’ll miss the view. The arenas are spectacular