BattleDome VR, a Review

I hadn’t really decided whether or not I liked Battle Dome until I punched a wall with my Vive wand while trying to poke my rifle out from behind cover to distract the sniper that was killing all my teammates. Then I decided I liked it very, very much.

Battle Dome, available on Steam, is a 5v5 first person shooter that manages to combine all the best elements of VR with a solid core of multiplayer shooter gameply. It’s not a particularly innovative game in the way Quanero or Accounting are; its graphics are decent, but not mindblowing, and it has no story to speak of. Upon starting the game, you’re presented with a “lobby” area in which you can try out any of the vast array of weapons, from pistols to laser rifles to grenade launchers (each one of which has seperately tracked personal stats) and, when ready, join or create a game.

There are a number of gamemodes available, from traditional FPS deathmatch to an interesting cooperative horror mode. There is also a lot of variation between maps, even in mechanics; some allow players to alter gravity, some have jet-packs available, and many are so called “paint” maps. This is where one of the most interesting mechanics comes into play; in order to cater to both players who enjoy free movement in vr and those who get motion sick from the difference between percieved movement and inner-ear inertial measurement, the game allows both teleportation and trackpad-based free movement, but on paint maps, players can only teleport to places where their teams color has been painted. This leads to some very exciting Splatoon-style paint raids. In one of my recent matches, two players with a machine gun and a grenade launcher guarded me while I used dual paint guns to spray a path to the enemy base so we could destroy their core in the attack-defense mode.

The huge selection of weapons in the game is one of its greatest features. Three basic types of weapons exist: bullet-firing, plasma, and laser weapons, each of which has unique advantages and disadvantages. There are large and small guns, too, from pistols and one-handed automatic weapons to assault rifles, light machine guns, and even a huge-scoped sniper rifle, and all of them are designed for VR. Every one, even the huge rocket launcher, can be weilded one-handed, but many of the larger ones have an optional two-handed mode which I’ve found increases both accuracy and immersion. There are more unique weapons, too, like the multi-use grenade launcher, which has utility grenades such as smoke, and the ricochet gun, whose multicolored rounds bounce off walls, ceiling, and floor to devastating effect. In addition, the shortsword and lance can be paired with the energy shield for that authentic space-Spartan feel.

I do have a few complaints. The graphics, especially the character models, can be somewhat offputting, with low-resolution textures and weapons floating in mid-air. The teleporting movement is balanced using a cooldown timer which isn’t adjusted based on distance, so tiny adjustments freeze you in place for just as long as full-range hops. There are a lot of maps, but each has different features enabled, like paint, gravity control, and jetpacks; it would be very nice to be able to enable and disable those features at will, for maps that support them.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t play it, though. Battle Dome, like the original Unreal Tournament, is an well-built, solid game that, while not particularly innovative, combines most of the mechanics of a new medium to create a game that can be learned in a few minutes but has nearly infinite replayability. I give it an 8/10.

*****
Written by Leo Tindall on 16 June 2017