Archangel: Hellfire Preview
Archangel, the acclaimed VR mech shooter, is back with a massive update. Aptly titled Hellfire, this update adds two new modes — co-operative multiplayer and 2v2 deathmatch — new maps, mech classes, and finally full locomotion controls. I recently had the opportunity to play a few rounds of deathmatch and am happy to report that Hellfire does not disappoint.
Players choose between a light, medium, and heavy mech, each with its own strengths and special abilities. The light mech favors agility over defense and can cloak to go invisible and reposition itself on the battlefield. The medium mech has a good mix of firepower and health. On the other end of the spectrum is the heavy mech, which is slow and poses a bigger target, but comes equipped with a high-damage shotgun, temporary invulnerability, and an EMP blast that can deny enemy mechs from activating their abilities.
While the original Archangel features on-rails movement, Hellfire thankfully chooses to completely revamp those controls, introducing an off-the-rails locomotion system fit for the new modes. The left stick moves you through the environment, and the right stick is used for turning. Clicking the left stick enables hovering, which is great for reaching high grounds and getting a jump on your foes. The arms of your mech are controlled through movement of the controllers. Shooting is as easy as pointing and pulling the trigger. Squeezing the grip button of the Oculus Touch controllers pulls up a shield on that arm, allowing you to simultaneously fire with the other.
There’s also an element of micromanagement at play in terms of power systems. On default, power is diverted evenly between damage, shields, speed, and energy regeneration. By simply dragging some sliders in the cockpit, power can be distributed as you see fit. As complicated as this may sound, it’s surprisingly intuitive to do even when under enemy fire.
In combat, tactics are just as important as having a good aim. It’s a good idea to roll two different mech classes, so one teammate can engage head-on while the other flanks, especially since enemies take more damage to the head and to the back. The cockpit has a tendency to give you tunnel vision, meaning good communication is vital to keeping track of where the action is happening at all times. Also, the energy meters of both your team’s and the enemy’s is another thing to keep in mind. If an opponent reaches full energy, they can unleash a devastating ability that can turn the tide of battle. You’ll want to actively prevent them from picking up energy canisters and shoot down their shields to drain their energy.
Of the two maps currently available, both look and feel very distinct. The frozen tundra of Collins Base houses a network of trenches and caverns. Genesis Facility is set in a vast desert, with its cliffs and rock formations adding extra verticality to the mix. Sections of the environment are also destructible. During one fight, I was able to blast out the bridge from under my opponent. Additionally, health and energy pickups are hidden throughout each map, so you’ll want to learn their locations to gain the upper hand.
My only gripe is that, though the different mech classes vary in stature, they all look rather similar at a glance. I had the most trouble discerning the medium mechs from the heavy — both are just grey hunks of metal. However, this will likely be a non-issue at launch with the release of unlockable cosmetics.
Anyone with a copy of Archangel on the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift can join the open beta right now to try out the deathmatch mode. Archangel: Hellfire releases on June 28th.
*** A preview code was provided by the publisher ***