RTX Sydney 2017: A Township Tale Sold Me on VR

Those of you who have been keeping up with what I write will know that I’ve been a little hesitant to play with VR lately. Besides the fact that most of the content seems to fall into that category of cheap scares or quick shoot outs, I’m not a fan of sticking a device over my eyes, sitting in the dark and not having much control over what I do. It’s one reason why I want to eventually own an HTC Vive, to break out into more interactive and enjoyable spaces, and A Township Tale helped solidify that thought.

In the brief five minutes I had with A Township Tale, currently in a pre-alpha state, I got to play around in a colourful Minecraft-ish world that aims to deliver a multiplayer environment that’s fully open to both exploration and possibilities. Even at this early stage, there’s plenty to be excited about over developer Alta’s creation, if my own little play through is anything to go by.

I loaded into the environment and was initially thrilled by the colour around me. Everything popped with a glow that seemed warm and inviting, which is far from the experiences I’ve had in VR. It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things, teleporting across a small space to an open chest where a small hammer lay. I picked it up, watching my hand grip around the handle, and swung it around like a mad man.

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Another player came across the open space behind me, playing on another VR station a few paces away. His player character, though only temporary until the much more detailed character models are added into the game later on, waved and mimicked his movements back to me. We laughed at how silly we looked, it was charming really, before being led by the developer to a place further up the hill. Once we reached the top, we discovered a few targets placed out and some bows and arrows in wait. I admit, I got a little excited and quickly ported my way over to the bow and took a few pot shots, turning around as I hit a bulls eye to show off to my fellow player only to be hit with an arrow directly to the chest. It wasn’t real, but it was funny as hell.

The five minutes of demo time came to an end not long later, having discovered a camera and played around with a mock photo shoot. It was but a taste of what the game was capable of, but I could see its potential. Everything could be interacted with, you could easily go anywhere, and the fact that you could play with other people and come up with your own little adventures certainly has its appeal.

The Vive (and Oculus too) are far better VR systems, that’s for certain. Interactions come easily, the added cameras around you do a better job of showing you where you are and allowing you to move and (in a way) breath within the environment afforded to you. A Township Tale bridges the gap between what we expect from a traditional open world game and virtual reality, placing them into a colourful place filled with possibilities in the same way Minecraft engaged us all those years ago (and since).

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It’s too early to tell what might happen next, or whether enough players will be around to make the most of it, but A Township Tale has helped to ease my mind over VR and delivers on its attempts and opening out VR into broader game play strokes. A quick glance at the trailer will give you an idea of what else to expect, including mining.

This is my kind of virtual experience, plenty of colour and lacking in dark spaces and violence. Of course, it helps that the equipment is far superior to a PS VR … so I guess that means I’ll be buying an HTC soon then.

For more on A Township Tale, keep a close eye on the official website. Huge thanks to Justine Colla and the Alta team for taking me on the tour, I’m looking forward to coming back again (soon, I hope).

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