The wacky first-person VR shooter Robo Recall was one of the biggest reasons I wanted an Oculus Quest headset.
It may have just been created as an introductory title to Epic Games and Oculus to show what the virtual games and the hardware in the headset can do. But it had everything that makes a virtual shooter fun and unique: fast-paced action, mind-boggling heights, and a simple concept that lets you jump right into the action. Shoot the robots as fast as you can, pick them up and throw them off a building, or rip their heads off with your bare hands.
It still amazes and frustrates me that no one with the power to make it happen has even attempted to make a sequel. Fortunately, Hyper Dash arrived and filled the Robo Recall-shaped hole in my life. It’s a fast-paced, futuristic VR shooter with all kinds of fun new ways to shoot robot enemies in the face, and it’s the kind of experience I’ve dreamed of playing since I was young.
Multiplayer Shooters have earned a bad reputation among casual and even seasoned gamers for making it so easy for people who spend 23 hours a day in front of a screen to play the game. Populous games like Fortnite and pretty much every Call of Duty ever made are filled with people who know every nook and cranny of every stage and power-up system that they can use to their advantage. They can score a headshot so quickly that you’ll be lucky enough to actually play a full minute in a single deathmatch. They can make a good game virtually unplayable.
Hyper Dash has its fair share of experienced players, but it’s simpler. Everyone is on an even playing field, regardless of their numbered level. Players own the chassis of a bipedal, humanoid robot that can hold two weapons at once. No one has special abilities or weapons that only they can use. Everyone can only use what they find or need to learn to stick to the standard pistols that the game sticks in their metal hands every time they respawn.
The movement mechanism is what sets Hyper Dash apart from other multiplayer and team shooters. Most shooting games only allow you to walk or run. The robots in Hyper Dash can walk and run on their human-looking legs, but there are more than just those two ways to move around the maps.
There is something called “Dash” in the game that allows players to zip from one place to another with a limited amount of use until their dash power is refilled. Everyone starts with three, but a pickup in the game can increase it to five and you have to be careful how you use it. An enemy can quickly dodge your target and attack you if you don’t have enough sprint to counter them.
There are also magnetic, metal rails scattered throughout each level and in each game mode. When you jump on it, your feet slide down the rails like Tony Hawk grinds a banister. Trying to shoot your opponent while sliding past him never gets old. It’s a satisfying way to score a point for yourself or your team, and it feels like being in a sci-fi action epic directed by John Woo.
Everyone can learn and develop their own feel for the levels, the different modes and the arsenal of weapons scattered across each map. They have the range of FPS bullets from the burst rifle that fires eight small bullets with one trigger pull to the devastating shock pistol. There’s a great balance that trades the right amount of ammo and amount of firepower depending on which one you choose to use, and some weapons even have alternate firing modes to mix things up more on the playing field.
The game also allows you to combine two types of weapons so that you can mix your shots. You can deliver a damaging amount of power at close range with a short-barreled shotgun in your left hand and a bunch of small shots from further away with an SMG in your right. So you can live out your gunfight fantasy by firing two cannons at once as you leap through the air, just like Nick Frost finally becomes a full-on action hero at the end of Hot Fuzz.
Most game modes focus on playing with teams. There are few deathmatch maps that are more closed off with corridors, tunnels, and smaller floors that are easy to learn and have no inaccessible hiding places. The team games are more innovative and offer more than just your base game “Capture the Flag”. In “Payload” mode, each team must stand on a moving platform that crawls along a track. The more players of the team are on the platform, the faster it moves.
The offense must move the platform forward before the time runs out. The opposing team goes on the defensive by knocking off the opposing team’s robots to prevent the platform from swinging forward and reaching the target before the timer reaches zero. Then they switch sides.
When each round ends, the players are dumped into an awards ceremony where the winners can shoot confetti cannons to celebrate their win and the top player can hoist a virtual trophy over their heads and their opponents. There are even the first, second and third places with Olympic fame. So you can take your rightful place to further celebrate your win — or just step on it and pretend you finished the round better than you actually did.
We are now in the future
Hyper Dash is the kind of game I hoped I could play one day, long before virtual reality became a real reality. Back in the 80s, when I got into video games and had to settle for my Atari 2600, running around a virtual field and taking down robots with a portable rocket launcher sounded like something that could only happen on an episode of The Jetsons that somehow got past the censorship.
Robo Recall may be the shooter that made me want an Oculus Quest, but Hyper Dash is the one that got me on my MetaQuest 2†