I’ve only recently delved into the magical world of virtual reality gaming, so my experience is limited in regards to the medium in general. Sure, I’ve played games that amount to tech demos. There are also those musical rhythm games with the glowy sticks. But I’ve mostly played pure shooters, where you move or warp forward while braining hordes of enemies. The rogue-lite genre has had its share of VR releases, but so far I have kept my distance. The thought of standing for hours only to get pelted back to the start of the game didn’t sit well with me. However, I was given the opportunity to preview Mothergunship: Forge, a rogue-lite shooter coming to Oculus and Steam VR. It changed my stance. I would say I walked away satisfied, but it was honestly hard to walk after I put it down.
Mothergunship: Forge is very much the Mothergunship you know, but reimagined for VR. I didn’t’ play the original, and I can’t speak for how intense it will get after my short time with the first stage. However, I’m confident that much of what made Mothergunship so beloved — the action and weapon crafting — exists in Forge, but it seems pared down to keep things from getting too hectic.
You can sit or stand in the VR version of the game, but I wouldn’t recommend the former. I was told ahead of time that the sitting mode for Mothergunship: Forge wasn’t quite ready yet. After a few minutes, I knew why. You stand still in each room as enemies spawn in, giving you a moment’s pause before unleashing salvos. Missiles in the preview were fairly slow, and you use your body to dodge the shots. It seems easy at first, but only at first.
Can’t touch this
It didn’t take long before I was dodging incoming barrages of slow-moving missiles and faster bullets. It seems like your head is the only hitbox, so I didn’t have to worry about taking a missile to the chest or arms. Still, that didn’t make things simpler. I eventually made it to the spongy level boss, where I dodged, ducked, and weaved around missiles. It felt like I was in a scene from The Matrix. I doubt I would have been able to “nimbly” avoid incoming fire from the comfort of my office chair.
And, honestly, it was a lot of fun — more so than what I predicted. While I have no doubt that the game will likely get far more hectic, the difficulty ramp into the boss arena felt perfectly reasonable. I was nice and warmed up by the time I cleared all the rooms leading up to the final fight. Though I did take some damage, the projectile speed and enemy spam felt tuned to the point where even my old bones could keep up.
Building the better blaster
Mothergunship: Forge, as mentioned, won’t hold many surprises for those who played the original. You move from room to room, clearing them of baddies before choosing one of up to three doors. Each door is marked with an icon showing you what lies beyond: a new gun part, in-game currency, an upgrade, etc. Money can be exchanged at the store for parts. You can also replenish health or shields for a small fee.
Weapon crafting can be done on the fly, but it’s probably best to do it when you’re not getting shot at. You get a module early on, and can choose a gun part. I went with the shotgun for my first run, and eventually powered it up with electricity ammunition. Parts can be grafted onto modules you attach to your meaty metal fists, and you can choose where they’re placed. To that effect, you might even do what I did and place a part right in your view. Luckily, the modules have multiple slots so you can fix it right away. I’m not sure how big the guns can be made in Mothergunship: Forge, but if it’s anything like the original, I’m certain they can get ridiculous.
It’s just as well, since the enemies you face are relentless in later rooms. Turrets spring from the ground, lobbing ordnance your way. There are also flyers that shoot from a distance, and floating orbs that explode when they get close. And let’s not forget the robots that look like staple removers with legs. They seem weak at first, but can get the drop on you if your attention is focused elsewhere. Thankfully you can have weapons on each hand, allowing you to fire at more than one enemy at a time. If all else fails, you can charge up either fist for a powerful melee attack.
Rise to the occasion
I didn’t know what to expect with the game, but I have to say I had a great time. The demo itself is short, encompassing only one level with a boss fight at the end. I replayed it multiple times, trying out the optional blaster and ricochet ammunition. I’m excited about the gun crafting, as building and moving the parts around is not only easy, but pretty damn enjoyable. I want to build a gun that can kill a robot god, and I think Mothergunship: Forge is the place to do it.
The game being VR certainly adds to the immersion. I liked how the difficulty curve feels within the demo, since it made it easier for me — a person who hasn’t seen much exercise since 2020. On that note, Forge might end up on a list of the best VR workout games. By the end of my third run, I had to sit down for a bit. My legs are still a little sore. Regardless, if the final game lives up to the potential it’s shown in the preview build, Mothergunship: Forge may end up standing above its peers.