Preview: Scraper: Gauntlet – Dynamic Shooting Range Action
Labrodex Studios is a developer which enjoys experimenting with both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology – especially when it comes to dogs. Last year the studio released its first VR experience in the form of Scraper: First Strike, a first-person shooter (FPS) that’s a little underrated. Rather than make a sequel the studio has gone off on a little tangent and created Scraper: Gauntlet, another FPS set in the same universe offering a different gameplay experience.
From first impressions Scraper: Gauntlet is looking to emulate the fast and frantic fixed wave shooters that dominated the VR scene in the early years. You’re equipped with a couple of heavily modifiable gauntlets on each arm, offering both offensive and defensive capabilities, all of which can be upgraded depending on the choices you make.
Scraper: Gauntlet is essentially a VR training simulation, with the storyline centred around humanity fighting a war against deadly robots. As an operative of the Human Resistance Force (HRF), it’s your job to defeat the Humech forces and to do so you’re sent into a lab to retrieve a deadly new weapon. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just grabbing it having to unlock the schematics by playing through a succession of levels.
Inside the main lab which functions as the central hub you can wander around via teleporting but for the actual levels themselves, you’re fixed to one location. This has its pros and cons depending on who plays the title. Because there’s no need to worry about moving the team has ensured the gameplay should be comfortable for all players. Labrodex Studios seems very well aware that a bog-standard wave shooter might not be an exciting prospect in the VR era of videogames like Stormland so while Scraper: Gauntlet doesn’t employ movement it tries several other tricks to facilitate dynamic gameplay.
First up are the level options. You’re not simply thrown into wave after wave of enemies, missions and their subsequent levels do offer choice. You can select one of three each time you’re in the lab, offering a mixture of waves, anywhere from 2 to 6 that VRFocus noticed. In addition to waves, each mission has specific variables such as the enemies encountered, buffs to health/damage and more. Far more essential, missions will gift one upgrade towards improving the weapons, shields or core attributes if completed. Succeed or fail, the mission options will differ each time you play.
Then there’s the gauntlet itself, a mini powerhouse of a weapon system. Located on both arms for dual-wielding, there are three guns to select; the Interrogator (a mini, mini-gun), the Trajector (a bouncing grenade) and the Pulsar (a charged energy beam). Plus there are the two shields and a very handy anti-gravity fluctuator which is basically force grab, picking up enemies to then fling them about like ragdolls.
The assortment covers every eventuality within each level, whether a robot is charging straight at you or sneakily using some cover to hide behind. One failing of a lot of wave shooters is the lack of enemy intelligence, standing there like the Terminator barely doing anything apart from shooting. Scraper: Gauntlet doesn’t seem to suffer this same fate. The basic soldier robots run straight for cover and will use it to get closer, at points even laying on the ground to take shots. Others have their own shields to move and fire mortars. Naturally, one type does exist which full-on charges but that’s kind of expected considering the electrified pole in its hands.
Levels tend to consist of around 5-6 enemies and once a wave is complete a couple of options then appear for the following section, altering the difficultly for a fresh challenge.
A stationary wave shooter always feels a little more of a hard sell in today’s market, as VR fans want more and more from each experience. Variety is the spice of life and Labrodex Studios is definitely trying to make sure Scraper: Gauntlet has that to ensure broad appeal. This early version feels like development is coming along nicely, although VRFocus would love to see some sort of co-op implementation to enjoy with a mate.