Preview: Altair Breaker – Sword Fighting GDC 2022 Style
The show floor of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2022 wasn’t exactly bursting with new virtual reality (VR) titles – as was the case in previous years – but there were one or two juicy videogames to be found. One of which was Thirdverse Inc.’s upcoming sword-fighting title Altair Breaker.
The Japanese studio has made a name for itself in the VR sword fighting genre thanks to its first project Swords of Gargantua. If you’ve played it then you’ll know the gameplay relies heavily on almost sim-like swordplay, where you have to be accurate with your attacks and quick on the defence. You can parry to gain an advantage over your enemy and even use a bit of magic to increase your damage.
While great for veterans or those simply willing to put the hours in, Sword of Gargantua can be brutal, so Thirdverse has decided to go down a more arcade-style route with Altair Breaker. This means greater accessibility, making those first less daunting because you don’t have to be as precise; having some fun in the process.
It’s easy to see the DNA in Altair Breaker though. The demo was built around arena-scale fights with a mixture of enemies a similar size to me as well as a giant mid-boss who wasn’t too much trouble to take down. The gameplay itself is light and fluid, with a single-handed sword available to slice and dice opponents.
Altair Breaker felt instantly accessible with each sword swing intuitive and accurate – which is always a good sign when demoing any videogame on a show floor. I was able to block and parry just as you’d expect but with the added help of a red indicator to tell me where the next enemy attack was coming from. Where the game starts to step away from its older sibling is with features like the distance slice, where you can unleash a bluish curved projectile at an opponent.
Stand and face an enemy for a few moments and a red crosshair will appear so you can focus all attacks on that singular foe. In the early stages of a battle when several opponents surround you it wasn’t as helpful due to it constantly relocking, becoming far handier in the latter stages of the fight. Plus, when I had a spare moment I could use my off-hand to run across the blade to empower it for a moment. Although this only worked about half the time!
Another notable addition was the ability to interact with the environment, more to the point, climbing it. Yes, that’s right, just like you can in videogames like Population: One, in Altair Breaker there’s the option to climb nearby walls or pillars for a better vantage point, jump off and then glide to a new point in the arena. This really has the ability to open up the strategy options, especially where some of the bigger bosses are concerned. Lastly, there’s a quick dash – helped by that lock on – so you can knock an opponent into the air and then dash in to deliver a final blow as they come crashing down. Always a satisfying end.
Oh, and Altair Breaker will offer co-op multiplayer so you can get four of you together. The demo only offered a look at playing solo, so gmw3 will have to get back to you on the multiplayer aspect. Even so, Altair Breaker was a blast, less hamstrung by accurate physics and pinpoint sword timing. That doesn’t mean to say veterans won’t find it challenging or varied, there seems to be enough to mix up your play style and the big dudes can certainly take a beating.
Altair Breaker is due out this summer for Meta Quest 2 and PC VR headsets, for further updates keep reading gmw3. And don’t forget to check out our other GDC 2022 coverage including our hands-on with the Skinetic Haptic Vest.