Developer / Publisher – MobX / Fast Travel Games
Price – US $24.99 / CA $28.99 / EU €24.99 / UK £19.99
Release Date – May 25th, 2023
Input – 2 x Motion Controllers
Play Area – Standing, Roomscale
Store Links – Quest
Reviewed on – Oculus Quest w/ Link
Exclusive to the Quest, Everslaught Invasion is an action RPG designed to take full advantage of VR motion-based gameplay. Visceral and fast, Everslaught has you fighting through endless hoards alone or with a friend as you evolve your skill and climb the difficulty ladders.
Originally launching back in July of 2021 in early access on PC, Everslaught was a beautiful looking and slick playing game that held a lot of promise. With a melee focused take on the modern Doom series formula, Everlsaught was filled with promise. Unfortunately with really only one stage to run around, it ran out of ideas pretty quickly and players waited for development to continue. For reasons I won’t delve into here, the game was subsequently abandoned and has now resurfaced as a Quest only game, likely hoping to find a larger player base. Originally described as more of a procedurally generated dungeon crawler, the switch to Quest and a title change to Everslaught Invasion sees the games vision change slightly, now playing much more like a rinse and repeat arena-based action title than a dungeon crawler.
Players can either play Everslaught Invasion solo or coop with another friend. Players first choose from 1 of 3 classes, each playing substantially different from one another not only in movement speed and combat stats but also with what range weapons are on offer to them, as each class can choose from 2 ranged weapons unique to their class. Additionally each class has their own set of skills which can be upgraded and activated both in the game’s hub world and out on the battlefield. As such, players can develop a play style they prefer, likely making for some interesting co-op sessions, specifically when it comes to the ranged weapons chosen. (At least I assume it would, as while reviewing this pre-launch I wasn’t able to get the coop working. Something I hope will be working for launch.)
Class chosen, it’s off to the armory to pick your melee weapons and ranged attack of choice. Over to the level select and players are given a choice between 5 different levels, though really it comes down to just 3 areas, as some of the levels are really just variations on stages giving us a bit of taste of what the procedural maps might have felt like in the PC version. Regardless, I can’t say any of the maps feel too inspired here, even if they are now hand crafted and honestly felt pretty generic for the most part. They weren’t particularly exciting to run around or explore, lacking anything that would make playing one of them special from the next. I would also have liked to see more verticality to the levels, as the grapple gun (which I’ll get into shortly) is easily one of my favorite parts of the game and definitely underutilized in the level design. Each stage can be played on 1 of 3 different difficulty levels and consists of 7 waves, with waves 3 and 6 throwing in a few make-work objectives, like lighting fires and destroying totems. As you would expect, each additional wave sees more difficult enemies introduced, though don’t get too excited because once you’ve done one stage you’ve seen it all. With only 5 different enemy types, things get old quickly here. In between each wave, players are given a brief opportunity to level up either their melee or ranged weapon with earned coin, or alternatively can activate a selection of skills based on earned skill points. Additionally, players can also choose to simply pay to refill their health, armor and ammo, and can attempt to upgrade all 3 aspects of their build if they are fast enough. Upgrades are done across a variety of upgrade stations which appear highlighted between waves and can even be used during an active wave assault if you’re brave enough. Now, regardless of whether you beat all 7 waves or not, players are awarded some progress to both their overall progression, which unlocks additional melee weapons, and their class progression, which rewards players with blood vials – essentially a currency used to purchase additional class skills.
And that, my friends, is the game loop. But what about the gameplay surrounding it?
What hasn’t changed much from the PC version of Everslaught is the game’s excellent movement system, which was a highlight of the game even in early access, and saw comparisons made to the modern Doom titles. Here players can dodge left, right and backwards, or jump forward, all with a pull of the right trigger. I do wish the base running speed was a bit quicker, as it feels like it should be, but the grapple gun mostly makes up for this. It allows players to not only grapple to assigned grapple points on the map for a placement advantage, but when shot directly at enemies also can be used to pull yourself right into an enemy for a quick attack which, when timed right, can be used to great effect. Your grapple gun is located on your left gauntlet and is one of many gameplay mechanics this piece of armware is responsible for, depending on how your arm is positioned. Palm down arms the grapple gun, while rolling your hand left will arm your chosen ranged weapon. Bringing your hand up to your face arms your defensive shield and plugging your left hand into the side of your right hand will heal yourself if you have the required healing blood. Now this whole gauntlet mechanic looks very cool and has come a long way since the early access days where I often found it a pain in the ass to switch to the right mode, but I wouldn’t say it’s perfect. The fact is, in the heat of battle, things could get a little messy. At times I found myself accidentally grappling into something that I meant to shoot at or healing myself when I wanted to do another action instead. Further to this, I think the shield system here sucks, and having to raise my hand to preload the shield then pressing the trigger to engage it for the few seconds it was up, was often more a pain in the ass than it was worth. Using your shield to block an incoming projectile or parrying an attack can give you ammo for your gun, but timing this was so janky that I usually just smashed boxes for ammo or used a refill station.
Directly related to the game’s movement system is of course the combat system. Primarily a melee based slasher, players can equip themselves with up to 4 different melee weapons, with 2 on each shoulder. These range from swords, axes and blunt weapons, with different styles of weapons offering a combination of slash, blunt or stab damage. Weapons can vary in size, but given that the weapons have no real weight to them and the combat itself doesn’t really benefit from having a longer reaching weapon, I pretty much just grabbed the biggest sword or axe I could find and a big blunt weapon for my other arm. You see, when out in the arenas, slashing or stabbing an enemy to death rewards players with red orbs which fill up the vials on your gauntlet and are then used to heal, whereas using a blunt weapon to kill can be used to drop green orbs, which refills your shield level. As such, alternating between these 2 types of weapons is ideal, or you can simply dual wield like I often did. Again, there is no weight to weapons and no stamina meter, so Everslaught can often become a bit of a waggle fest. Completing your arsenal is your choice of 1 of 2 ranged weapons per class, and can range from a machine gun, shotgun, and sniper rifle to something a little different like a plasma shot or energy punch. Unlike the melee weapons, ranged weapons can be vastly different and really do change up your play style depending on what you go with. As such, trying out the 3 different classes is highly recommended to find what fits for you.
Unfortunately, Everslaught: Invasion struggles to bring all these ideas and mechanics together, as tragically, the combat here is often just plain boring. Enemies are dumb, predictable and rarely come in enough numbers to even justify the size of the levels. The lackluster level design and lack of enemy variety doesn’t help either, but it would have mattered much less if slashing at enemies and blowing their heads off was actually fun. However, this is not the case, and chopping at enemies lacks any impact or viscerality. I often just walked through waves of enemies, swinging weapons weightlessly until they dropped and disappeared. Ranged weapons are a bit more fun to use, but ammo is limited and there honestly just aren’t enough enemies to make it worth it. They simply don’t move fast enough or with any dynamics or personality to make any of the combat very entertaining past the first few minutes of gameplay. Like I said, the movement system here is great, but I mostly found myself grappling around the levels just for some entertainment, rather than out of gameplay necessity. Some of this is just gameplay design, but some of my issues here seem to be based around the move to the Quest, as the enemy does seem to have been reduced from the PC version. The result is that, unlike the PC version which did often feel like playing Doom Eternal at times with enemies coming at me from all angles, the Quest version often felt like playing follow the leader. Now throw in the clunky mechanics of your gauntlet and a janky melee holster system that pops up into view every time you bring your arm back to swing and Everslaught Invasion often feels like a boring mess of wasted potential.
Making matters worse are the game’s visuals, which I guess depending on how you choose to look at them are just fine or really disappointing. Putting on my Quest player hat for this review, the game’s large open arenas are impressive for the Quest, with little to no pop in and a fairly clean visual look. Some more variety in the level design would have been nice as the game can look a little bland at times, but this is to be expected for a game of this size running on the Quest and still offering co-op and hordes of enemies. However – and I know Quest owners will bitch about this – when compared to the now abandoned PC version, Everslaught Invasion is an embarrassment running on the Quest. When Everslaught first launched in early access it was applauded for its AAA quality visual design, and it was well deserved as it was a beautiful game showing off great level detail, with an excellent lighting engine and an overall visual finesse that made it a joy to play. Unfortunately, most of that is gone now with the move to Quest, and while I know many of you will say it’s unfair to compare PC to Quest, what I’m really sore about is just how much this game was downgraded in order to get to more headsets. I get the financial aspect of it, I really do…but it’s sad. What we are left with are blurry, smudgy textures that create bland and lifeless levels void of almost any dynamic lighting and effects, essentially neutering the game of any visual excitement of playing it. And it’s not just a matter of the game looking worse, it also affects the gameplay on a fundamental level; enemy animations look to have taken a massive hit, which in turn has made the melee combat feel lifeless, losing all of the visceral quality felt when tearing an enemy apart. Additionally, the game simply doesn’t play as smoothly, which really hurts the whole flow of the combat. And like I previously said, the Quest simply can’t throw enough enemies at players, which just kills the whole point of what the PC version was trying to deliver on.
Oddly enough even the sound seems to lack the punch of the PC version, sometimes sounding like it lacks some of the detail heard in the PC mix. Many of the sound effects have carried over and that’s a good thing. The inclusion of a musical score is also a nice addition, but the combat here just lacks a sense of impact in the sound design that I can’t quite put my finger on, taking what was already a lackluster experience and hurting it further.
And that brings me to my final thoughts and review score. Like we were talking about on a previous episode of the Virtual Boys Podcast, some games just shouldn’t be attempted on the Quest, and Everslaught Invasion is one of those games. Everslaught in early access on Steam was a visceral, beautiful game that played great and promised to deliver a full experience. Unfortunately that full experience is only available on the Quest and in getting the game to run on a mobile chip set, so much has been cut from the game visually that not only does it make for a bland and boring game to look at, but it fundamentally neuters the visceral and fun sense of combat found on PC. Enemies are janky, lifeless and slow, and never come in enough numbers to really justify the level design or the game’s excellent movement system. Unfortunately PC version or not, Everslaught Invasion’s core melee combat also just isn’t that much fun and its 5 arenas get old fast. And for a game based around repetition of levels and combat as players run through the game’s levels on higher difficulties to unlock better gear, the game loop for me just falls apart here.
I’m not saying there isn’t some fun here and I can see some people still enjoying running around this with a friend, but for me this falls flat and if I hadn’t been reviewing it, I would have stopped playing after one round.
Meta provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!