Not too long after the first VR game based on the Angry Birds franchise, we’re getting a second one. This one’s tied into the current movie release, and takes a different approach gameplay-wise as well. Here are our thoughts on this second VR-based take on the famous series, which is a PSVR-exclusive at the moment.
While “Isle of Pigs” was pretty much ‘Angry Birds, but in VR’, this new title (which also has a different developer in XR Games) feels more like it was inspired by games like Overcooked and then had the Angry Birds license attached to it. There’s a movie tie-in as well, but aside from a few clips there isn’t much narrative development in the game. But, since we adore Overcooked, all of that’s easily overlooked.
What the new Angry Birds title also brings to the table is the ability to play cooperatively with people who are in the room with you, playing on the TV screen while you use the headset. As the VR player, you can use a ‘magnashot’ device (pretty much just a magnet) to attract and repel items in the environment – thus helping (or annoying) those playing the non-VR portion of the game. It’s a mechanic we truly love, as a lot of Playstations are set up in living rooms and VR traditionally is an isolating experience.
Your crew of angry birds is on board a submarine, which you as the VR player are the captain/caretaker of. As such, you’ll switch perspectives to one outside the sub, where you use your weapon to reel in treasure chests and destroy the obstacles in your way that might otherwise damage your ship. Collecting treasure also means gathering supplies for your sub and the birds inside it, trying to keep things running smoothly.
To do so, these birds have to operate machines, craft items and weapons, extract and deposit valuable loot and discard whatever you don’t need. Obviously, this means that things can get very hectic, but mechanics are slowly introduced and short tutorials offer enough of an explanation as well. The main campaign is laid out over the course of 10 levels, but additional game modes add a bit of replayability even if levels do repeat themselves after playing the campaign all the way through.
The “under pressure” portion of the game doesn’t just come from all that water pressure that’s on your sub – it also points to the insane multitasking that you need to do, and the fact that you have to do it before your sub gets torn apart in order to reach the end of a level. In later levels, this means you need to really cooperate to get a three star score, and this goes both ways – the VR players gets the birds some of their supplies, while they make sure the ship keeps running and the ammo piles are stocked.
Of course, there’s a chance you might play this solo as well, and the game does offer that option. It means you’re switching between the outside perspective where you protect the sub and the inside one where you run around with your birds, but as everything occurs in real time you can’t ignore the other half for too long. It sounds very involved, but the reality is that things get overwhelming and you end up missing the sense of cooperation as whatever half you’re not currently playing is more or less asleep behind the wheel.
But even though this isn’t as fun for solo players as the first Angry Birds VR game was, it’s a great party game that really encourages VR and non-VR players to cooperate. In later levels this really comes into play, as you need to start using your magnashot to help the little birds get over obstacles. I’d think twice about picking this up as a solo game, but it’s a solid multiplayer game for VR even if it doesn’t feel as much like an Angry Birds game as I had expected.