Spaceteam VR is the Right Amount of Silly, Chaotic Fun in Space
As a VR adaptation of the hit mobile game, Spaceteam VR brings frantic team-based gameplay to the space of VR.
While games like Half-Life: Alyx have recently showcased the ways that VR can be used to push the envelope for more involving, lengthier game experiences, there’s still something to be said for the ways that VR can provide silly, unrestrained fun. Whether that’s through games such as Job Simulator or Beat Saber, VR can be the perfect space for experiences built simply to immerse and entertain. Blasting its way onto VR from its original home on mobile, the upcoming Spaceteam VR so far seems to be finding the perfect balance between the two.
During PAX East a few weeks ago, I had the chance to check out a demo of Spaceteam VR on the showfloor, which is in development by Cooperative Innovations. While no specific release date has been set for the game just yet, Spaceteam VR is planned to arrive sometime this spring on a number of VR platforms, including Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, and PlayStation VR. Combined with a robust number of options for playing between VR headsets and mobile phones, Spaceteam VR seems to be finding a way to bridge the gap between offering new VR-focused features while staying true to its mobile roots.
For those unfamiliar with the original game, Spaceteam was originally a mobile game that debuted in 2012 and quickly took off as a mobile party game hit. Connected through multiple phones by either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the game itself involves a team of players trying to prevent their careening spaceship from meeting an explosive end by attempting to work together with one another. Each team member gets their own ship console with different buttons and levers to use, with on-screen prompts telling them what action to take. In turn, players then have to try and shout their commands to teammates with the appropriate actions that aren’t on their terminals, adding to the game’s delightfully stress-inducing premise.
As someone that played a good amount of Spaceteam at various game nights with friends, the prospect of seeing that chaotic experience brought to VR was one that I was excited for. VR has proven itself to be a surprisingly well-suited platform to the world of tabletop gaming such as Catan VR or Werewolves Within, and from what I played at PAX East, Spaceteam VR seems like another promising addition for VR-fueled game nights, if you’re in the mood for something a little more silly and hectic.
Spaceteam VR works more or less in the same way as the original mobile game, where players are trying to work together to keep their ship in one piece before everything goes horribly wrong. In the few stages that I went through in the demo, players were positioned around a central control unit with different command modules, making it easy to both see what commands you are responsible for while also keeping a line of sight on your teammates and what they are doing.
At the beginning of a round, the prompts that players are given on their command module start off simple enough, from pushing buttons to hit the Jumper or flipping a switch to engage the Windshield. However, over time several obstacles will get in your way that will need your immediate attention like putting out a fire that sparks on your command console, or using a blaster to take down aliens while simultaneously trying to keep your ship from falling apart.
In the original Spaceteam, much of the experience of playing was driven by trying to shout commands at one another and keeping up with increasingly perilous tasks, lending to the game’s delightful sense of insanity. Spaceteam VR preserves most of those qualities while upping the ante through VR, since you now have to use a fire extinguisher to put out blazing fires, aim a blaster to avoid incoming alien threats, or use a hammer to fix broken parts of your command module. All of these new VR interactions help make the game’s wacky premise even more enjoyable and frantic, especially when you have your hands full wiping off alien gunk from your command module with a sponge.
Though the core experience of Spaceteam VR seems to be simple enough for anyone to enjoy, Cooperative Innovations also is leaving enough room for players that want a more difficult experience to up the challenge. Specifically, that includes a number of higher difficulty settings and additional obstacles that you’ll have to face, such as shrinking players’ heads and changing the pitch and tone of players’ voices to make their commands harder to hear.
While the prospect of getting up to six players together in a VR setting might seem like a challenging task, Spaceteam VR also seems to be giving several opportunities for more accessible play if you either don’t have a VR headset or have limited access to them. According to developer Cooperative Innovations, Spaceteam VR can support up to six players with “any popular VR headset” by playing online or locally, while local multiplayer is also available between at least one VR headset and several smartphones or tablets. In turn, this brings the experience of Spaceteam VR closer to the original mobile game, and gives a chance for players not to miss out on the fun if there are only a few VR headsets available to use. Additionally, Spaceteam VR also features a single-player mode where players can practice with CPU teammates, so you don’t have to miss out if you either can’t get friends together to play online or locally.
As an avid fan of the original mobile game, so far Spaceteam VR seems to be delivering on its mission to bring its local multiplayer fun to a new frontier. Though it may not be a massive reinvention of what VR can do, Spaceteam VR is still unabashed fun that shows how VR can be just as immersive with friends, especially with its frantic gameplay that requires cooperation. Combined with its range of accessible play styles across VR headsets and mobile, Spaceteam VR seems like the most fun that you can have shouting at your friends in space.
Spaceteam VR is set to arrive this spring on Oculus, PlayStation VR, and other VR platforms.