Starblood Arena VR Revew

The PSVR has been out for six months now and whilst most of the software has been quite fun, with some great experiences had, nearly all are short titles. The games that have had me going back for repeated helpings have been multi player titles, of which there are very few. Thankfully there is a new arrival to add to the slim multi player PSVR collection, the exclusive Starblood Arena from White Moon Dreams. Dog fighting in aircraft/space craft seems a natural fit to VR and Starblood Arena joins Eve Valkyrie and STAR WARS: Battlefront VR on the PSVR to satisfy the needs of would be couch pilots.

Gameplay

There is a total of nine pilots to choose from, each with their own unique space craft and attributes. Each not only look distinctive but play quite differently, giving players some depth to the combat. Speed, offense and defence of each ship is rated out of five. Each rating differential is quite noticeable, and adding to the differing play styles are the weapons and abilities each ship carries. As expected rewards and ship progression is accomplished throughout the game, with modifications being awarded throughout repeated victories.

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The Arenas vary from tight confined areas to reasonably large maps. There are a dozen different arenas to play, each being based on unique environments. Cover is definitely your friend if you want to survive and the maps are designed to facilitate this need. Each feel quite different and the design is very good, offering cover to evade, multiple areas and pleasing aesthetics.

Game modes are quite light in number but all are quite fun and have a different feel. There are single player, co-op and multi-player modes to partake in. The ‘AI’ within the single player is quite good most of the time, but slow to react if you flank them from behind. However, it manages to give a reasonable challenge which is great news due to the disappointment of the multi-player and co-op segment of the game. Don’t get me wrong, once in a match there is much fun to be had and even with my horrible net speed, lag was little issue. The biggest issue and downfall of the game is the match making. I’m not sure if it is due to being able to choose the game mode, or if it is due to a low player base, perhaps a combination of both. The result is a general wait time of twenty minutes to find a lobby and start a match, this is at peak times.

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Starblood Arenas greatest strength though is its controls scheme and the manoeuvrability of your ship. You have eight-way movement and the space craft are very agile. After a quick tutorial and a couple of matches you will be piloting like a pro, shooting down enemies, darting through crevasses for cover and perhaps even giving a few audible “Yahoos” whilst doing so. Best yet, although the craft are agile and quite speedy, there seems to be little nausea that can be associated with VR. I do seem to have quite a god stomach for this though.

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Graphics & Sound

White Moon Dreams chose a cell shaded look for Starblood Arena, the game looks quite similar to Borderlands, come to think of it the total package seems to feel like a Borderlands influenced arena shooter. The character models remind you of some from the wastelands, even the hud seems familiar, not a bad thing in my opinion. The colours are vibrant and the character and ship models are quite excellent. Not having a realistic look may attribute to the lack of nausea. The arenas themselves are quite good in detail, the explosions look fantastic. Graphically the game gets a huge tick.

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The sound is quite good too, would have been better if the writers had comedic talent instead of hoping to be funny. The voice acting is solid and the weapon and ship sounds were all good.

Overall

In the end Starblood Arena is quite confusing to try to score for the purpose of review. It looks great, plays great and is quite possibly the best release on PSVR thus far. However, the lack of match making is extremely frustrating. This had me wondering, how do I score a game that I enjoy and actually loved, yet can’t play due to lack of community? It seems criminal that something so good is looking like it will never have the audience to appreciate it, nor the community to live up to its greatness.

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Written by

Gavin Petersen

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