The renowned developers of classic game franchises like Wasteland and The Bard’s Tale, as well as VR dungeon crawler The Mage’s Tale, are unveiling their next VR-exclusive project: Frostpoint. This is a change of pace for inXile Entertainment, being a first-person multiplayer shooter instead of an RPG, but it’s shaping up to be something worth keeping an eye on.
Frostpoint (not to be confused with PSVR-exclusive VR shooter, Farpoint) is an upcoming multiplayer VR shooter from inXile that aims to deliver an innovative PvPvE experience. This means that while fighting against other players to control points and win competitive matches, there are monsters in the environment wreaking havoc and causing chaos at the exact same time to really flip the genre on its head.
Earlier this month I got the chance to speak with Brian Fargo, Studio Head at inXile, and Pete Mayberry, Lead Designer on Frostpoint, to chat about the game, its development, and what players can expect. It’s a detailed interview loaded with juicy details. You can watch the whole thing in a video embedded farther down this feature, or continue reading for the highlights.
What Is Frostpoint?
Frostpoint is a AAA-caliber multiplayer VR shooter focused on competitive team versus team combat. Comparisons to Battlefield were made in the interview and I can see the likeness and inspiration in the trailer and screenshots, albeit with a sci-fi post-apocalyptic spin.
When loading into Frostpoint you’ll matchmake with other players, get sorted onto one of two teams, then hit a bunker with a wall of weapons, armor suits, and gadgets to pick from. There is no class system, it’s just based on the gear you bring with you.
“We’ve got a suite of realistic weapons with attachments like scopes and second hand grips,” says Mayberry. “We also have a suite of sci-fi weapons that are really interesting to play that change the dynamic of the game. In terms of going out and finding loot, there will be locations where these upgrades happen, they become hot points of contention between teams. So out in the world there are guns available but be very wary about going to get them.”
Since Frostpoint is not class-based that means you’ll change your style of play based on the armor suit you wear and weapons you carry.
“It’s a free-form class system,” says Mayberry. “You as a player, your class is really based on what tools you’re grabbing from the wall, paying in-game currency to upgrade, and then the suits add a certain level of class-like features. Some suits have players running faster, better protection, cut down on gun recoil, there are certain things that change. If you want to be a heavy you can be a heavy, if you want to be a scout you can be, or if you want to be pure support you can.”
There are two game modes planned right now: classic team deathmatch and domination, both will be up to 10 v 10. Domination works just like in Call of Duty or Destiny in which teams vie for control of waypoints on the map and accrue points based on how long they can maintain control. Mayberry also confirmed bots will be in at launch as well so you can play by yourself and still have fun, or just with a small group of friends as a co-op only experience.
But that’s not all. In addition to fighting the other team, every game mode on every map also has a bunch of hostile creatures that attack anyone and everyone. This creates a relatively unique PvPvE experience that is sure to keep everyone on their toes.
“Then there’s a whole second layer with the PvE element,” says Mayberry. “There’s a constant threat of these biomechanical creatures coming out from every direction. You’ll be fighting against the enemy team and turn the corner then you’re faced with these hulking creatures. It’s a great dynamic to deal with those things and then deal with the other team and try to win the day against these two forces.”
Mayberry goes on to describe these creatures as a “resource” that players will seek out, likely to loot for currency that can be used to upgrade and improve gear during matches.
“The layer of the PvPvE element is very cool, it changes the dynamic of the battlefield greatly when you’re playing,” says Mayberry. “Our artists did a fantastic job, it looks really nice for a VR game and even for a non-VR game it looks beautiful. We layer in the lite sci-fi element so we can introduce things that are less realistic. For example, energy weapons are a blast to use, sorry for the phrasing.”
From The Mage’s Tale To Frostpoint
“Some of the most fun I’ve had in years playing games has been in VR,” says Fargo. “Whether it be Arizona Sunshine, Survios titles, and even our own Mage’s Tale, I remember one time I was playing VR, playing, playing, and playing, then I took off the headset and it was dark outside with all the lights off in the house.”
Fargo has deep roots in the early days of the video game industry, from founding Interplay in 1983 to working on classic PC RPGs and adventure games like The Bard’s Tale, Wasteland, Neuromancer, and the first Fallout. In many ways, he’s the forefather of post-apocalyptic video games.
“I like the medium…from an immersive perspective it’s hard to beat, you’re right there,” says Fargo. “We wanted to do another title after Mage’s Tale, that’s part of the background, but the other part is that one of the tings I found fascinating at the time was watching a lot of the emergent gameplay systems pop up. Whether it be Rust or DayZ and those types of things, seeing the videos people were putting out of themselves having this incredible time that wasn’t based on scripted events.”
If you’re familiar with Fargo’s body of work, you’d know that emergent gameplay based on unscripted content isn’t what his games are usually known for. Branching paths and sandbox-style interactions that can result in a wide-range of outcomes, sure, but not fully emergent gameplay. His best work is always extremely narrative-focused with mostly linear paths from start to finish. Frostpoint isn’t that at all, but there are still similarities.
“I’ve always done post-apocalyptic games and they’re about asking, ‘How would the worst of the worst behave in these situations when there are no rules?’ Well, watching a lot of those videos you got to see how they would behave. It was like emulating a post-apoc world, and a mean one at that. So I thought, “What could we do to that end and then bring VR to it?’
Over a year ago I actually went down to the inXile offices and played a very early build of Frostpoint. Back then it was a mixture of battle royale-style giant maps, survival mechanics inspired by DayZ and Rust, and a bunch of other nuances that aren’t in the game anymore. The reasoning for the shift is that, after extensive testing, they realized people genuinely enjoyed the combat elements far more than the otherwise tedious moments in between.
“We started working on a product that was, originally, going to be more of a survival game,” says Fargo. “But as we watched people play, more and more, where we always heard the shouting and fun…we leaned more into the combat side of it…it’s what people really gravitated towards.”
Ever since the Oculus Rift first released back in 2016, Fargo and the other developers at inXile have been VR fans and genuine consumers of popular content. VR games like Arizona Sunshine, Pavlov, Onward, Zero Caliber, Boneworks, Raw Data, and more were all cited specifically in the interview as inspirations and points of key research during Frostpoint’s development.
“Titles like Pavlov and Onward scratch a similar itch and even Boneworks shows how rewarding it is when you do weapons correctly, but it’s a whole different conversation when you have to see 19 different people all doing things in real time, in VR,” says Fargo. “It’s one of the most technically challenging things we’ve ever done at the company to make it work correctly and look good at the same time.”
Open Beta and ‘Play To Own’ Campaign
Frostpoint will have a free, Open Beta period in September to get people in and trying out the game. During that period, the first 10,000 players have a chance to win a free copy of the game during what inXile is calling its “Play to Own” campaign.
“We’ll seed the beta with the first 10,000 or so players and whenever they meet a certain criteria, whether it be number of hours or number of matches or whatever we decide, we’re going to just give them a copy of the game to recognize that they’ve put all this effort in to help us make a better game,” says Fargo. “So hopefully what that will do is create a playerbase from day one [at full launch].”
Since Frostpoint is a competitive shooter without a story mode, this is new territory for inXile. However, it doesn’t mean the lore is something they haven’t given thought to.
“With most all of our other games we make them, we ship them, and then we’re done at that point really unless we do DLC,” says Fargo. “I thought it would be fun here to create a world where we are adding on things over time. So we actually have a lot of deep stuff written that will tell a story over multiple years. The idea is, assuming there is success, that we continue building upon this world. First we needed to nail the core systems because unless the game’s fun no one is going to care about the lore, so we wanted to get those parts done first and then we can layer that other stuff on later.”
Brian Hicks isn’t with inXile anymore, but he was for a few years and was a key part of this game’s early vision. Hicks was Creative Director on DayZ for multiple years and has a deep background in online shooters. His expertise is what helped inXile lay the foundation for crafting an online multiplayer FPS — so the nuts and bolts should be sound.
Since what I played is no longer existent as a game concept, I’m eager to see what the current iteration of Frostpoint is like. The survival elements were intriguing before, but the massive map sizes and empty layout would certainly have been a chore. Streamlining things and really emphasizing combat with a mixture of dynamic PvPvE elements sounds like a lot of great ingredients, so hopefully it turns out to be a recipe for success.
Frostpoint is slated to release for PC VR headsets (Rift, Vive, and Index specifically) later this year, price to be determined. Full index support, including finger-tracking, is specifically mentioned. No plans for Quest at this time.
An exact month is not set for release, but the plan is to release it in 2020, but a free Open Beta period is coming in September. During that play period is when testers can earn a copy of the game with the “Play to Own” campaign. More details on all of that to come closer to Beta launch.
Let us know what you think of Frostpoint, inXile’s ambitious new multiplayer VR shooter game down in the comments below!
Last month Survios launched its much-anticipated zombie survival title The Walking Dead Onslaught for PC VR and PlayStation VR headsets. To celebrate the release VRFocus has another awesome competition where one lucky reader has a chance to win both the videogame and a bunch of merchandise.
The Walking Dead Onslaught is a collaboration between Survios and AMC, bringing the popular TV show to life in virtual reality (VR) with some of the show’s famous faces. If you’re a fan of AMC’s TV show then the storyline will be of interest as its set between season 8 and 9.
The main campaign follows Daryl Dixon, where you embody the character famous for his crossbow. In between missions you need to rebuild the Alexandria Safe Zone and help the community by going on supply runs, upgrading your weapons and killing a lot of walkers.
For this competition is dishing up a sizable selection of merch, all of it going to one lucky winner. You can see what’s on offer below. This will be shipped by Survios directly to the winner, worldwide.
The Walking Dead Season 8 Blu-ray
The Walking Dead Season 9 Blu-ray
The Walking Dead Onslaught Steelbook case (Includes a code for the platform of your choice)
The Walking Dead Onslaught Art book
The Walking Dead Onslaught T-shirt
The Walking Dead Onslaught Microfiber cloth
The Walking Dead Onslaught Postcard
So onto the competition. There are multiple ways to enter the giveaway with the standard prize draw entry rules applying: Follow us (or already be following us) on Twitter or alternatively, visit our Facebook page or YouTube channel to get an entry for each. The competition will be open until 11.59 pm GMT on Monday 2nd November 2020. The draw will be made shortly thereafter. After which VRFocus will contact the winner to get platform and address details. Best of luck.
Senior Staff Writer at VRFocus who has reported on the VR industry for the last 5 years. A keen gamer since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Peter enjoys covering all aspects of the technology; from the latest consumer hardware to enterprise use cases.
Halloween is almost upon us and while the events of 2020 may hamper traditional activities such as Trick or Treating, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the season. You could carve some pumpkins, dress up in some ghoulish face paint or if you’re really really brave play some of the virtual reality (VR) videogames listed below.
AFFECTED: The Manor
This scary title has been doing the rounds for several years now, available on most platforms with recent updates adding a speedrun mode called The Gauntlet whilst The Darkness update upped the intensity by adding just a single candle for illumination. AFFECTED: The Manor isn’t so much a game rather a haunted house experience with multiple routes and endings if you can handle returning.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted
The long-running franchise came to VR in 2019 and was all the better for it. Full of bite-sized mini-games that will get your heart racing, the scenes from the previous editions have been updated for VR whilst new ones were added. If you like jump scares (or don’t) it doesn’t get much more intense than this.
In Death/In Death: Unchained
Whether it’s In Deathfor PC VR and PlayStation VR or In Death: Unchainedfor Oculus Quest, what you get is a frantic fight against hordes of demons, with only a bow for company. Procedural levels mean that each run is never quite the same and death sees you placed back at the start.
A good horror game needs to be super creepy, usually with a nice mix of impending doom and some horrible looking monsters. If that’s what you’re looking for then Drifter Entertainment’sLies Beneath should suffice. With some striking artwork and a comic book style delivery, this should easily keep you on edge.
Layers of Fear VR
Set in a hauntingly twisted mansion, Layers of Fear VR is a remake of the pancake original, adding immersive controls for a more intense experience. You play as a painter trying to finish his Magnum Opus yet as you wander his Victorian mansion his mind begins to unravel.
Time for one of the newest horror titles on this list, Propagation VR is the work of French team WanadevStudio. Normally creating videogames for VR arcades this is a wave shooter set in a dilapidated subway station after a virus has broken out. With no locomotion the action comes from all sides, creeping out of the darkness for some frightening moments. And the best bit is Propagation VR is completely free!
The current indie hit on Steam which only arrived into Early Access during September, Phasmophobia is a 4 player online co-op psychological horror. Whether you’re in VR or on PC, you and your team are paranormal investigators searching haunted locations for evidence of ghostly activity.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
For those after an awesome zombie survival experience in VR then look no further than Skydance Interactive’s The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. From the safety of your base where you can craft weapons and useful tools you need to head into the streets of New Orleans, searching houses for resources and finding other survivors to uncover their stories. And of course, removing a few walkers along the way.
The Room VR: A Dark Matter
Maybe not everyone’s definition of a horror experience, those that love a good atmospheric puzzle title should take a look at The Room VR: A Dark Matter. Expanding upon the popular mobile series you’re sent back to London circa 1908 to the British Institute of Archaeology where an esteemed Egyptologist has disappeared and a spine-tingling world awaits.
The Exorcist: Legion VR
Pretty much a staple of most VR horror lists, The Exorcist: Legion VR was released back in 2018 by British studio Wolf and Wood. An episodic story spilt across five chapters, you play the role of a detective investigating grisly murders. Needless to say, these all have a paranormal twist.
Blair Witch: Oculus Quest Edition
This final is a little extra because it’s not quite out yet. Another standard game port into VR, Blair Witch: Oculus Quest Edition has been redesigned for the headset with lots more interactive features. This probably makes it more terrifying to play as you wander into those haunted woods. It’s set to arrive just in time for Halloween on 29th October 2020.
🔴 Sometimes, the biggest obstacle preventing a customer from receiving a service is not cost or availability, but rather distance. Even in our highly interconnected world, situations occur when customers live in remote regions with no option to get service quickly, or even when the service is quite rare and not represented in all cities where customers reside. Such circumstances might seem hopeless at first glance, but can often be counteracted with remote assistance, or even better – remote assistance through AR.
◈ How do remote assistance and AR work?
Remote assistance traditionally refers to the provision of support and service through various forms of communication – voice and video calls, text messaging and chat, mobile apps, and web platforms. The listed approaches are far from perfect, but they can be improved with augmented reality (AR) technology, which allows digital elements to be projected on real visuals (e.g. live camera footage) with certain devices (usually smartphones, tablets, or smart glasses). Let’s take a look at how and why the technology is being used in this field. 👇
◈ Benefits of the AR Approach for Business
Many businesses are already using online and mobile tools to support their customers and employees, but AR makes the service superior through multiple benefits:
1. Faster data analysis
AR technology focuses on analyzing footage and identifying objects in a camera stream. Applications of this type often have pre-programmed markers (images of an object) that it will detect in a photo or camera stream, and the process often happens much faster than a person looking at their surroundings and identifying a particular detail. Consequently, someone can just aim their camera at a piece of equipment, and their AR app will provide information and/or digital visuals in seconds as opposed to sharing the image via message and waiting minutes for an expert to identify it.
2. More relevant and informative visuals
🗨 In addition to speed, the tracking systems of AR apps do a much better job of providing accurate and relevant information. To begin with, remote specialists are quite limited in their approach to identifying objects and issues affecting them. They might ask for descriptions, photos, or a video to get a grasp of the issue, and even they sometimes make mistakes. On the other hand, a well-crafted tracking system will analyze many factors around an object in a live camera feed and can make a more accurate judgment about the situation. Accordingly, the information and/or visuals that the AR app then displays will be more relevant and better tailored to the user’s surroundings.
3. Improved automation
🎯 Given the advanced tracking and visualization systems present in AR apps, they can take on many of the functions typically delegated to support specialists. The application can include step-by-step support for dozens of situations and scenarios, so users are able to resolve issues by themselves. However, it is unlikely that this type of solution will replace support staff entirely, as not every problem encountered by users can be prepared for, and there are also times when the hardware and software fail to make the right determinations.
4. Ease of development
👉 Just 10 years ago, AR was an unknown concept to most businesses and developers, with only a select few companies (like Layar) paving the way for the technology to thrive. Today, AR development services are thriving with thousands of developers working in this field. Furthermore, Android and iOS have embraced the technology and provided the tools (ARKit and ARCore) to build such software for their platforms with no hassle. Thus, the creation of such solutions should not be thought of as much more complex than ordinary app development.
5. Standing out from the competition
🗨 For service providers competing with other companies for market share, the elaborate level of support provided through remote assistance with AR could be the game-changing factor that puts their business ahead of the rest of the pack. Besides outshining competitors, this approach should also impress users and give them a better experience more closely tailored to their circumstances.
Where can AR Remote Support be Used? 👈
Given the broad capabilities of AR, it can be used in nearly every industry – even support for online services. Still, certain industries lend themselves to the technology best, and some examples are below:
Helping drivers make repairs or learn how certain features work. Making the jobs of mechanics/salesmen easier with quick scanning and information
👥 Customers can use their devices to navigate stores more easily and find needed products faster. Employees can train to quickly identify where products are located and how goods are organized.
Patients and their caretakers are guided through medical tasks, medical readings are made clearer and visualized. Medical staff can quickly interpret results and provide recommendations.
Workers at utility plants and stations can quickly troubleshoot issues, share relevant footage and data, preview changes to facility functions.
Servicemen can learn how to work with equipment properly, scan gear and objects for potential dangers, and get accurate descriptions of various items.
👉 And many more
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating AR experiences.
Where is AR Already Being Used for Remote Assistance?
With thousands of businesses already using AR in their operations, it is safe to say that hundreds have applied it to remote assistance. Some prominent examples include: 👇
1. CITIC Telecom
The CITIC Telecom company has a massive amount of infrastructure that must be kept in working order, and AR is helping with this. Their field engineers and maintenance staff are using AR devices to troubleshoot issues with equipment and boost productivity by over 50%.
2. Scandinavian Health Ltd
With the recent lockdown and quarantine measures, many auditors are not able to come to work. However, the company has invested in smart glasses, which are worn by employees that do visit their facilities and allow the auditors to see the data crucial to their work visualized.
Renault is a French automaker that integrated AR devices to improve cooperation with dealerships. Using the special software and hardware, Renault engineers can cooperate with dealership technicians to resolve warranty issues, reducing the need for engineers to visit the dealerships.
The giant food corporation Nestlé is applying AR technology to improve collaboration among its various production and R&D sites. Specialists in the facilities are linked with the software and can easily share photos and video streams, files, visualize systems and processes and therefore work more efficiently.
📖 Conclusion 👇
At the most basic level, AR-based support answers the biggest demand that people in need of help have – show, don’t tell. Though voice and video support are helpful in many situations, augmented reality apps provide can resolve most troubleshooting situations much faster and more accurately, as long as the proper care and attention to detail are invested in their development. As the approach grows and grows in popularity, we see a rising number of businesses use it to their advantage.
🗨 In case you are interested in the implementation of AR technologies to enhance your business processes or accomplish other goals, you can contact any of the numerous companies that provide AR services. One of the leading companies presented in the matrix above is Program-Ace – an AR development company that has worked with immersive technologies since they first appeared on the market. Whichever company you choose will be lucky to have you, because the implementation of new tech in your business will allow you to stay a few steps ahead of your competitors.
↘ Source: 👤 Mikhail Shcherbatko is a creative writer, translator, movie buff, and fantasy book fan. Writing guest posts for Program-Ace, he strives to bring useful insights to the masses. 🔚