PREVIEW: Hard Bullet (VR)

Nov
03

PREVIEW: Hard Bullet (VR)

Hard Bullet is a newly released VR title that is available now in early access. It’s a wave shooter that has a variety of levels to play. Wave shooters are a thing of the past, but Hard Bullet experienced in VR may be able to change that.

Author: NotASpy
Released: Steam Early Access
Type: Single-player
Genre: FPS, Simulation,
Arena Shooter, Action
Developer: GexagonVR
Publisher: GexagonVR
Release Date: 22 Oct, 2020

Technical

Graphic Options & Settings

Let’s start off with a look under the hood, there are really only a couple settings you can adjust to tailor the game to your liking. Some of the main ones include, dominant hand, graphics quality, and a vignette to help with motion sickness. Even the graphics options are limited to an overall quality setting, with tracers, trails, and muzzle flash to tweak. Now I wasn’t expecting AAA quality of graphic options, but I would at least appreciate adjusting my anti-aliasing levels especially in VR. There is also quite a bit of stuttering that is quite jarring to view in VR. When you load in stutter, when you load a level stutter, when you start a stage stutter. Maybe that is passable in any other early access title, but for a VR title that is unacceptable.

Controls

Thankfully unlike the graphic options, controls are relatively easy to swap to your liking. If you’re not comfortable with the default layout just know that you can rebind your controllers at will. Now being able to rebind controls does not overshadow the feeling of how the game controls. Let’s start off with movement, bearing in mind there is no option to add a vignette to help with regular movement. Motion sickness is a cruel mistress on limiting your ability to play VR titles, and Hard Bullet is no exception. Now motion sickness is something I get relatively rarely, I can play Boneworks, Dirt Rally 2.0, etc. perfectly fine after I got my “VR legs”. But something about the movement in Hard Bullet just feels lacking and nauseating. Now besides the movement, interacting with your weapons and the world is just as unsettling. In every other VR title you hold the grip to hold the weapon, simple. Through hours and hours of VR every user has been conditioned to hold down a button to simulate gripping an actual weapon. In Hard Bullet there is no need, so it really makes picking up and dropping weapons unintuitive.

Not a large amount of graphical options to choose from. ‘Game’, ‘Player’, ‘Sound’ follow the same limitations.

Gameplay

Gunplay

The gunplay in Hard Bullet is the redeeming quality to make anyone even consider picking up this game. Hard Bullet has an at command slow motion toggle, along with the ability to jump in slow motion. Remember how awesome it was to dive in slow motion in Max Payne? Well it is even sweeter in virtual reality. Being surrounded by 6 enemies in a room isn’t a death sentence in Hard Bullet, it’s when the fun really starts. Just the feeling of toggling slow motion and eliminating your enemies John Wick style is pure adrenaline. VR games are really a test of your imagination, if you just gun down enemies like you would on a flatscreen in Call of Duty, you’re not gonna have a good time. The fun in this game is channeling your inner John Wick and killing with style. And a noted gameplay aspect of ‘arcade’ reloading is refreshing to see in this game. You have the option to manually reload like in any other VR shooter, but Hard Bullet offers the ability to just drag the weapons to your waist for an automatic reload. This allows you to stay in the action, and not lose a step in the endless waves of Hard Bullet.

“Leaping around corners in slow motion never felt as good as it does in VR.”

Weapon/Level Variety

There is a surprising amount of weapons to choose from at your disposal. Regular M4? Check Dual wielding SMGs? Check Powerful shotguns? Check. With such a variety of weapons to choose from along with tight gunplay, Hard Bullet is a perfect sandbox to play around for 30mins and just have fun. At the moment there are about four levels to play around, one being the default sandbox/test range level. The issue here is that they really all feel the same. Sure they offer different hallways, with vantage points, and cool rooms to set up the next John Wick movie. But in the end, they don’t ‘feel’ different enough to change up the gameplay in any meaningful way.

Difficulty

Your game is only as fun as the challenge it brings to you the player, especially when the only thing to do in said game is shoot A.I.. And Hard Bullet severely lacks in this category: The A.I. feels dumb and unchallenging. While this isn’t a knock towards the devs, as A.I. in other vr titles such as Pavlov isn’t much better. But at least that game offers a ton of more depth, and multiplayer to replace the bots with. But in Hard Bullet your only option is to kill bots, and when the main core of the gameplay is against such easy enemies it really takes the fun out of it.

Visuals & Sounds

Visuals

Visuals here are nothing special, this is about the bare minimum I would want from a vr title released in 2020. You might be able to find better looking vr titles released in vr’s infancy back in around 2015. I will keep in mind that this is not a AAA studio, and the resources might not be there to improve this aspect. Making a game is hard enough, and then making one in vr just adds to the difficulty. There is nothing much to say, besides that the visuals get the job done.

Sound
The sound design follows the visuals almost to a tee. This is an early access title, and I am sure higher quality sounds and visuals will be implemented. But at the moment, the guns lack impacting sound and don’t feel all too different from each other. I will say the menu music is fantastic, while I wouldn’t say it matches the tone of the game perfectly, it is a joy to listen to.

“The visuals in VR are adequate, nothing spectacular. They do provide enough to trick your brain into thinking some situations are real.”

Conclusion

Hard Bullet is a rough gem at the moment, and in the vr landscape I will take what I can get. It is promising to see smaller devs tackle this niche genre, and Hard Bullet has a good foundation to build a game that can carve out a nice niche. Compared to other wave shooters, Hard Bullet is among the best offered in VR through pure gameplay alone. Wave shooters can be fun, and Hard Bullet is trying to prove that point. While this game is lacking in many departments, no other VR game offers the feeling of being John Wick and Max Payne like Hard Bullet can.

Verdict

Hard Bullet is a game you should save for Later. I recommend you keep your eye out for future updates, to see what improvements they can bring. But at the moment, Hard Bullet offers a great wave based shooter that makes you feel like you’re in an action movie at all times.

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