One of the more interesting titles I’ve tried in my short time with the Oculus Rift has been Illion’s Preta: Vendetta Rising. Billing itself as a hybrid between Dark Souls and Monster Hunter, and always online with others, I was intrigued from the start. The intro, though bare bones with a story of amnesia you see coming a mile away, was also encouraging. Then you get into the town hub. And it all falls apart.
Preta: Vendetta Rising seems to use VR because they thought the title was clever and because they felt it was the “in” thing to do. The simple truth is that Preta: VR doesn’t need the Rift, Vive, or whatever else it may come out on. It’s a third person Online Action RPG. The use of VR feels tacked on, though I will admit it’s immersive. Thing is, VR anything is immersive, because it shuts out the outside world. But Preta makes merely OK use of this, with camera rotation being an issue and instead having the game blink in and out when you need to switch viewing angles.
The Action RPG part is merely passable so far, with the intended likeness to Dark Souls and Monster Hunter far out of reach. It’s basically a game of button mashing one key, spamming your three long-cooldown skills whenever they pop, and running away from the hordes of monsters out to get you and kill you quickly.
I’ll put it this way – players should not have trouble beating the first short mission of your game. And if they do, it had better be due to a skill gap, not poor gameplay. Preta throws a bunch of rock-like monsters at you at once, who have no AI other than to swarm you, while you spam one or two basic attacks and run away. Get far enough away, spam attack one or two times, and run some more. You can block, but you still take damage, and since you only have five potions or so with you at a time, and since you can only resurrect once per mission, chances are like me you’ll wind up growing impatient or slamming your face into this poor design until you beat the first mission’s final boss.
A patch on July 20th improved things a bit. Your character has an ultimate form that seems to fill up as you fight (there’s no in-game meter that I can see), and like in Devillian you take a new more powerful form for a short time. They’ve tuned that to pop more frequently, and toned down the damage of the monsters so they hit hard, but not as hard.
Guess what? It’s still a chore to hit twice, run, hit twice, run. I wind up losing patience doing this song and dance disguised as skillful play and trying to muscle through things. It doesn’t work, and I die over and over on the final boss. But I did eventually beat him. Through sheer luck of still having my resurrect at the end of the mission.
In case you were wondering, no, this wasn’t fun. Not even a little bit.
Thing is, the seeds of a good game are here. Preta: VR is in early access, it can be played without a VR headset, and there’s still time for Illion to make progress with combat and tuning to make this game more fun to play. They’ve already toned down the cash shop in the Early Access version quite a bit, as I expect Illion has plans to make Preta a F2P game later on. More than a few early access adopters were pretty peeved at the reliance on cash shop item and their exorbitant prices at EA launch. But, like the tuning of the opening missions, Illion is listening and adjusting. They’re just going to want to move faster before everyone moves on and plays far better VR games or online ARPGs.