Gaming

Steam chart leader with a change of genre

The player waves towards the camera with other VR players in the background on the statue.

Screenshot: RamenVR

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games is a game where people get lost finding friends and communities to spend days and days with. Virtual reality has quickly become a popular way for people to interact with other people, often in wild and strange worlds or environments. So combining MMORPG social interactions with an immersive virtual reality world seems like a good idea on paper. But can VR MMO Indeed Work? Well after playing for a few hours Zeniththe latest VR hit on SteamI think so.

Zenith, released last week on multiple platforms including Steam and PSVR, not the first VR MMORPG. But given how well it’s selling on the Oculus digital store and on Steam, it seems likely that it’s quickly become the most popular attempt to bring the two together. It also helps that the game supports cross-platform play across all platforms and works offline. Oculus Quest 2 Headset. Seeing so many people jumping made me want to try Zenith for yourself.

My first experience with Zenith it was terrible. The game was suffering from a massive server crash, and when I eventually logged in, I experienced lag and other crashes. Although I guess the developers are happy that Zenith so popular that players crash servers, it was a rough introduction to the game. Eventually the servers were up and running again and I was able to create a character by choosing one of the two currently available classes. The options boil down to the sword-wielding melee-oriented warrior and the spellcasting mage. I’ve played both and prefer the mage, but mostly because you don’t have to swing your arms as much.

If you’ve played MMOs in the last decade or so, you won’t be surprised by most of what Zenith is being done. You kill 10 of these things, talk to the people here, and collect 20 other things before killing a larger, stronger enemy. Repetition. If it was a standard flat screen MMO, I would be very bored. But Zenith Its biggest strengths are VR immersion and motion control, which help push up the standard MMO fare a bit.

For example, a fight in Zenith is a mixture of gestures and motion-controlled aiming. As a mage, I had access to dual magic gauntlets that behaved like energy pistols from Halo. You can charge them up for powerful attacks that stun or hit enemies with a lot of fast, low damage shots. Spells and special attacks use gestures. To throw a fireball, I simply flicked my wrist while holding the grip and the fire button on the Quest 2 controllers. If I wanted to electrocute my enemies using powerful lightning, all I had to do was simply flick my wrist up while holding the grip. It took a few minutes to disable the controls, but once I did, I found myself taking on enemies quickly and effortlessly. Zenith the fight sits in that perfect spot. It’s not too easy or boring, but it’s not too hard or complicated either. I once spent an entire hour just killing stuff and leveling up before entering a dungeon. And it was fun. I was also tired after that, but getting some practice while playing is a nice change from sitting and playing a typical MMO. Zenith however, it supports seated play, which is nice because my legs hurt after a few hours.

Where Zenith really shines with how it uses motion controls and VR to do more than just recreate World of Warcraft or Everquest. My favorite twist is that you can climb anything. Zenith. Simply use the grapple buttons on your VR controller and you can scale any wall or rock until you reach the top or run out of stamina. Open world climbing ZenithI felt more free to do whatever I want than I usually do in an MMO, which I didn’t expect.

Another thing I didn’t expect: how nice it would be to hang out with people in Zenith.

Default, Zenith Everyone has sound turned on. This may sound like a nightmare and I’m sure it could in some scenarios, but as I played I found people just having a good time sharing stories and asking for help. There was also a lot of touching on the face. I’m not sure why this is, but people came up to me and touched my face. I started doing this with other people as well. Usually silently or with a simple “Hi”. It was strange, of course, but it felt like Zenith the equivalent of a hug or handshake.

A first-person screenshot showing the player firing magic at nearby purple enemies.

Screenshot: RamenVR

At some point, I met a small group of people who were hanging out on the tower after climbing it together. I joined them and asked them how long they’ve been playing and what they think of the game. They eventually explained that they had all met on VRchat and had seen Zenith as another way to chat online.

“Now we’re fooling around and shitting, leveling up, defeating monsters and all that stuff,” explained one person I met. “It’s like… another way to relax together. It’s cool… I mean, it’s like World of Warcraft or something else. But now in VR I can spank my friends too!” After that, they all laughed and then started to, well, spank each other.

This is perhaps the most exciting part of playing an MMO in VR. Not spanking, but the ability to communicate and connect with people more easily in the digital space. Text chat and even voice chat have their limitations. But the ability to communicate with people using both voice and body movements opens up many new possibilities.

A small example of this happened when I was helping someone fight some generic villains (narrative elements are not a strong point of this game and the villains are not particularly memorable), and during the fight a bigger monster appeared behind me. My temporary ally was silent, but waved his hand and pointed behind me, urging me to turn and defend myself. A tiny moment, but this is just one example of VR interacting with MMOs.

With further updates and more content I could see Zenith becomes a game in which people spend the days of their lives. And it’s much better than Mark Zuckerberg’s cold and boring metaverse. an experiment I previously tried.


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