Synth Riders and Wands, two popular multiplatform VR titles, received hefty (free!) updates in the past week. Let’s see what’s new!
Synth Riders “Spin Mode”
We’ve covered Synth Riders before, as one of the better music-based VR titles available right now. Moving your hands and arms to “ride” music tracks is intuitive and fun, but until now the action’s been a forward-facing affair – much like the rhythm-based games of the past that required a television set.
The new “Spin Mode” update fixes that, unshackling the experience by making you spin sideways, turn around or even spin all the way around. We tried it on the Quest and it’s the kind of thing that wireless VR was made for, making you forget which way you were facing in the first place. I’m not sure the experience will be as liberating on a wired VR headset, but if you have things set up so the wire doesn’t tug at your head then you’re probably good to go on that front as well.
In addition to the new mode, the update also includes a new stage as well as a brand new free song, adding even more content to a game that’s received plenty of post-launch music content – both free and paid. The new spin mode brings the game more in line with Beat Saber’s 360 mode as well, yet again pointing out that Synth Riders is a solid alternative to the hit game.
Channeling your inner Harry Potter, Wands was first released by Cortopia Studios back in 2016 and let people wield magic wands in order to cast spells against other players online. The fact that the game is getting a major free update in 2020 is a lovely gesture from the developer, who recently launched Down the Rabbit Hole as well.
We didn’t play Wands in its original form, but the new update for the game makes great use of the advances that have been made in VR since 2016. Much like the update for Synth Riders, it makes use of the ability to unshackle the experience from a fixed location and allows for room-scale support, letting you move around as long as you stay within the borders that were defined for your headset.
As mentioned I didn’t play Wands before room-scale was added, but using an Oculus Quest headset this allows for some intense dueling where stepping in and out of cover to get some good angles for your shots becomes a physical exercise – and you can even try to dodge incoming spells.
There’s bound to be more of them now too, since the biggest new addition to the free update is the ability to dual wield two wands at the same time. While perhaps not the most “wizard-like” option (if there is such a thing), it’s great to actually involve the other hand while playing, and we could see Cortopia building on this functionality as well – perhaps with specific offline challenges or enhanced game modes to add to the dueling. There have been some brilliant VR takes on spellcasting (including The Mage’s Tale and The Wizards), and Wands is another one to keep an eye on. On the Quest, it makes great use of the benefits of wireless VR and the excellent Touch controllers.