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Thread: The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is the first VR Immersive Sim

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2020

    The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is the first VR Immersive Sim

    When I first bought a VR headset back in 2016, I did it with the expectation that a developer would figure out that the 6DOF hand interaction mechanics that VR allows for would compliment immersive sim gameplay like bread and butter. Blade & Sorcery was the first game that I felt nailed physics-based VR but is very early access and mostly consists of wave-based arena combat. Boneworks took those interaction mechanisms, pushed them to their extreme and applied them to a Half-Life-like narrative, it's also fun but the story is kind of threadbare and it can feel a bit too fiddly.

    TWD:S&S is the first I've seen that applies those input concepts them to an immersive sim structure. There's the sneaking and looting mechanics of Thief, NPC dialogue trees and branching narratives of Deus Ex and I guess even a bit of the crafting systems from Ultima Underworld. It's systems dense with attentive, dynamic AI and a swath of different ways you can choose to tackle problems (no kill runs are viable) and the VR features are all heavily integrated into the gameplay. Weapons have weight which you can feel, NPCs can be grappled with and pushed and the game is full of fun interactions. As an example, you can pick up a pack of smokes, grab a cig from the packet with your free hand, put it in your mouth and light it with a source of fire and it'll burn down, just because... why not? If an entrance to a house is boarded up, break it down with an axe or crowbar. Those wooden boards has some nasty nails in it, so of course they can be used as a makeshift weapon. Broke your knife? Grab a glass bottle from the ground, smash it and impale a zombie head with that. These are just some of the surface level systems at play though, the game is far deeper than it looks on the surface.

    It hasn't gotten much press for whatever reason, whoever is in charge of marketing has kind of dropped the ball and seems to mostly be relying on the license to sell it. I couldn't give one iota of shit about the Walking Dead franchise, I don't even particularly like Zombies as a concept. I only found out about it when it got released through word of mouth and even then it took me actually watching gameplay on Youtube to figure out what the game actually was. IGN's review is one of the few that picked up on it's true influences, which is probably why the review score ended up being so high.

    Kind of feels like an advertising spiel which probably isn't a great look for a first post, but honestly most of it's most glaring issues are stuff that the devs could patch out pretty easily, some already have been. Mostly a few AI bugs, stiff NPC animations and it has the usual immersive sim inverted difficulty curve. Really though, if you have a VR headset and you post in this forum you really should buy this, right now.

  2. #2
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I've been thinking about getting it. I was more looking forward to the other Walking Dead VR game, mainly just because it's developed by Survios, but I've read nothing but good things about this one.

    Are you playing it seated, SCheeseman? I read that crouch is toggled via a button-press, which makes me think it's meant to be played seated. Also it's apparently long as hell which kinda discourages too long standing play sessions.

  3. #3
    New Member
    Registered: Jan 2020
    I haven't been a huge fan of Survios' output, the games are technically alright but they're not big risk takers.

    I've been playing exclusively seated. I have a wireless kit for my Vive, so I play a lot of games on an office chair and spin around to turn. Apparently they patched in a makeshift fix for physical crouching within 24 hours of release, but there's occasions where it can bug out and it still uses a seated tracking universe so room-scale boundaries aren't displayed. They're working on it.

    While there's a lot of content you only spend about 20 minutes in each zone before having to get out due to the day/night cycle. Apparently a deliberate part of the design, making it convenient and satisfying to play in short bursts while still allowing for longer sessions.

  4. #4
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Ok, I'm playing this now. 2 hours in. It does indeed feel very nice, everything has a nice sensation of weight and all the UI/Inventory stuff is handled well. The combat is tense and you have a good amount of freedom in exploring the world.

    Like all games with smooth locomotion it does make me nauseous after a while though, so I'm limiting my sessions to an hour per day. The comfort-settings also aren't as good/fleshed out as some other VR games (Stormland, for instance).

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Spinning off the karmic wheel
    Do they have any options for teleport rather than smooth locomotion? I cannot do smooth locomotion, unfortunately. 1 minute or less and I am motion sick.

  6. #6
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Nope, no teleport. :/

    The game has been designed around smooth locomotion to the point that teleport would be pretty game-breaking, but I wish they'd included an arm-swinging locomotion system at least. That wouldn't make the game too easy, and it's considerably less nauseating than smooth.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Spinning off the karmic wheel
    Thanks for the info. That's a game I can't play then, which is too bad because in all other respects it looks cool as hell.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen
    What are smooth locomotion and arm-swinging locomotion? I'm not familiar with the VR lingo at all, but I'm genuinely interested to know what you're talking about!

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2000
    Location: Spinning off the karmic wheel
    Smooth locomotion is akin to how movement works with mouse and keyboard or a controller. Press the thumbstick forward, and your viewpoint and character moves forward. Playing on a computer or game console, this is fine as many many visual cues around you tell you you're not moving, so you don't get sick. However, in VR your entire viewpoint is inside the Gameworld, so when smooth locomotion is engaged it feels a lot like you're on roller skates, and all the visual cues are that you are moving, but every other physical cue tells you you aren't moving. This disconnect makes a lot of people motion or VR sick.

    With arm-swinging locomotion, you're holding controllers in your hands that are motion tracked, and swinging them back and forward as if you were walking or running is what causes your character to move in VR. This adds an additional physical cue that you're moving (the motion of your arms) and can lessen symptoms of VR sickness.

    For me, smooth locomotion is an almost instant VR sickness inducer, whereas arm-swinging allows me to play longer, though still only 15 minutes or so. Teleport makes it possible for me to play for hours.

  10. #10
    Ha, that arm-swinging UI is a pretty neat idea. If you opt to involve your legs as well (sort of walking on the spot; even though the game couldn't notice), does that help further?

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm lucky in that I have an iron stomach when it comes to VR. I had some problems early on with Minecraft VR's very slidey movement, but by now I haven't encountered anything VR-related that made me queasy in years.

    I've not played Saints & Sinners (yet), but I love arm-swinging locomotion in Skyrim, with the use of a program called Natural Locomotion. It's not perfect: you still need to use your hands to do stuff in the game, which means that arm-swinging locomotion can interfere with doing things in-game. Natural Locomotion has added functionality where you can use mobile phones, Switch joy cons (is that what they're called?) or PS3 Move controllers strapped to your legs, so when you walk in place you move in the game. There are also a bunch of VR gadgets that allow for the same thing without you having to have additional phones or controllers. I've ordered one of those, Kat Loco, but haven't received it yet, and seeing how they're shipped from China, I think there may be a bit of a delay. Nonetheless, while it is a bit cumbersome to strap things to your legs for VR, I am looking forward to trying them out, because especially in games like Skyrim, which are less about ease and speed of locomotion than they are about immersion, it makes a huge difference to me to walk by, well, walking, even if it's walking in place. It *feels* different, because I'm no longer perceiving distance moved as a function of time but as a function of moving my legs. To explain: there's a mountain in Skyrim that you have to climb to progress in the plot. You get to its top by climbing the Seven Thousand Steps. While they are not literally 7000 steps, I experience that climb very differently if I make movements that are reasonably close to walking up a (looooooong) flight of steps than if I just press a stick.

    Kit Loco seems to work with a fair number of games. I'm hoping it'll work with Saints & Sinners too, because at this time walking in place is my favourite, most immersive means of locomotion in VR, unless we're talking about special modes like Lone Echo's zero-G movement.

  12. #12
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I actually looked up the Natural Locomotion page in relation to this, but it seems it's not compatible with Saints & Sinners using Oculus yet.

    Here's some gameplay:


    When I back away from the zombies there my bat actually gets caught on the door frame and then the pillar, which is a great little "oh shit" moment. I've reached Day 8, the game is really starting to click with me now.
    Last edited by henke; 16th Feb 2020 at 09:31.

  13. #13
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    This was a good shootout.



    I don't think the video quite conveys it. Mainly because it looks quite janky (hell, at one point you can see a guy running through the wall) but this still felt quite tense and meaningful. Partly because the only two previous shootouts I'd been in I'd gotten my ass handed to me, so I was expecting to die. But also because of how the game frames the action, makes it about something. I had options in this mission, and it was my choices that led to this bloodbath.

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