Korix

PSVR

EDGE - - GAMES -

This is not go­ing well. It’s our fault, in fair­ness: a cou­ple of min­utes into our first play of Korix, we had watched as our laser tur­rets ripped a small troop of en­emy sol­diers to shreds and joked that it was too easy. “You’ll see,” cre­ator Mark Tay­lor said – and we did. The threat in Korix’s sin­gle­player cam­paign ramps up quickly, and ex­po­nen­tially; be­fore long the masses of on­rush­ing troops are smash­ing down walls, de­stroy­ing units at a can­ter and march­ing on to­wards our base, which falls in sec­onds. Win or lose, a cam­paign level of this pacy blend of RTS and tower de­fence will never last more than 12 min­utes.

That’s per­haps a nec­es­sary de­sign de­ci­sion for a game that is played ex­clu­sively in VR, where short ses­sions are con­sid­ered best prac­tice. But it’s a mat­ter of pac­ing as much as it is com­fort, the con­stant, sharp uptick in en­emy strength re­quir­ing you to work quickly. Early on, once you’ve sent work­ers out to gather re­sources, you’ll need walls to fun­nel the op­po­si­tion’s foot­sol­diers; atop them you’ll build ar­tillery to shell them from afar, laser tur­rets to take out the ones that break through, and Pul­sar units to slow them down. You’ll spend more re­sources on up­grad­ing your tur­rets with greater range, for­ti­fy­ing walls, per­haps im­prov­ing your base’s de­fence. But just as you start to feel com­fort­able, a mass of troops bursts through a wall. An air­borne unit sails straight over all your hard work, and starts shelling your base. Worst of all, the well of re­sources that your work­ers have been si­phon­ing is start­ing to run dry. When war is de­signed to last no more than 12 min­utes, things can go wrong aw­fully quickly.

The so­lu­tion to the re­source drought is the col­lec­tor unit, which can be placed any­where

The goal is to de­stroy the en­emy’s base, but you needn’t be ag­gres­sive about it

on the map and saves work­ers from schlep­ping all the way back to your base with their haul. “We built the col­lec­tor for on­line play,” Tay­lor says. “If you have four play­ers, and a lot of re­sources in the cen­tre of the map, you can build a for­ward base, cap­ture the re­sources, build a col­lec­tor and de­fences around it and then you’re all fight­ing over re­source points.”

While our demo is only playable off­line, it’s clear that mul­ti­player is Korix’s beat­ing heart. The cam­paign serves as part tu­to­rial, part pro­gres­sion sys­tem: each of its 12 lev­els un­locks a new unit type, and each is de­signed to show­case said unit’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Once the cam­paign is com­plete and all units are un­locked, solo play­ers can head to Skir­mish mode to play on cam­paign maps against AI op­po­nents with a full se­lec­tion of toys. Or they can head on­line where up to four play­ers can play across 14 maps, where the AI can con­trol any va­cant teams, and play­ers can play com­pet­i­tively or co­op­er­a­tively. The lat­ter sees each player given their own base and re­sources, but lets them de­stroy, build on or up­grade each other’s for­ti­fi­ca­tions and units.

The goal is, nat­u­rally, to de­stroy the en­emy’s base, but you needn’t be ag­gres­sive about it. Yes, you can build your base for­ward, push­ing your op­po­nent back un­til the units you’re de­ploy­ing are right on top of them. How­ever, you can hang back, too, build­ing a strong base and hoard­ing re­sources un­til you can af­ford a nuke. At 2,000 en­ergy, it’s the costli­est unit in the game, and sees your base open like a silo, a rocket arc­ing up through the air. The counter-nuke costs half the price, flies twice as fast and au­to­mat­i­cally neu­tralises the threat pro­vid­ing it’s de­ployed in time, and Tay­lor de­scribes some chaotic cli­maxes to in­ter­nal playtests, where 20-minute turtling ses­sions end with some fran­tic atomic fire­works.

The nuke is a par­tic­u­lar de­light in VR: we loom over Korix’s play­field and look down as it launches from our base, then move back a lit­tle and trace its arc with our head be­fore the pay­load slams home. But the whole game is an ex­cel­lent fit for VR, its diminu­tive scale mak­ing it feel as much a god game as it is an RTS or tower de­fence, the Move con­troller of­fer­ing a fast, ac­cu­rate way of plac­ing units, and a one-but­ton tele­port that moves you be­tween four com­pass points al­low­ing you to shift per­spec­tive as the ac­tion de­mands. The re­sult is a smart, in­tu­itive and keenly paced genre mashup that, cru­cially, still man­ages to feel fun as the en­emy streams forth, smash­ing our base to smithereens yet again.

Map size, and com­plex­ity, scales ac­cord­ing to the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants. This ex­am­ple is de­signed for two play­ers, but four­player maps are much larger, and of­ten multi-tiered

ABOVE Korix isn’t ex­actly push­ing PS4 to its lim­its, but when we meet, Tay­lor is mulling over how the game could best take ad­van­tage of PS4 Pro. Noth­ing’s been con­firmed, but one idea would be a first for PSVR

TOP LEFT A fully up­graded set of de­fences is an in­tim­i­dat­ing prospect in­deed. You can in­struct your forces to fo­cus their fire on a spe­cific wall or unit by point­ing at it and hold­ing a but­ton down.

ABOVE In mul­ti­player, your op­po­nent’s cur­rent per­spec­tive on things is shown by a float­ing head and a replica of their con­troller. Since you share the same four po­si­tions, you can try to put them off by wav­ing your Move around in front of them

Fo­cus­ing on worker units is key early on, since you’ll need re­sources if you’re go­ing to stand a chance. Cost per unit in­creases the more of them you build, too

LEFT While the field of play may look small, the ac­tion ramps up so quickly that it’s all too easy to fail to no­tice that things have gone wrong some­where. Keep­ing track of the en­tire map is a vi­tal skill to learn

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