Impulse Gear aren’t strangers to virtual reality. Having brought us PSVR shooter Farpoint in 2017, they’ve slowly worked on Larcenauts ever since, offering up an arena-based multiplayer-only hero shooter with 6v6 teams. Bearing similarities to Overwatch, it recently launched for PC VR and Oculus Quest with cross-platform multiplayer and while you’ll find some enjoyment with friends, Larcenauts doesn’t live up to its full potential.
6v6 Me On Tern
Now, if you’re hoping for something similar to Farpoint, you’ll be quickly disappointed. There isn’t a single player campaign and all we know is that we’re guided by Captain Eleanor Kas, playing as one of eight recruited “Specialists”. Forming a crew to take on heists across the Tern system, each character can sprint, dash across gaps and grapple to greater heights with a hookshot, using touch controller buttons. Wielding two weapons and unique grenades, everyone comes with tactical abilities, like healing teammates or temporary stat boosting. Unfortunately, Larcenauts doesn’t help much beyond a basic tutorial, leaving players to figure out the rest.
While controlling all these aspects feels slightly clunky, it’s ultimately manageable, though that faster-paced gameplay may cause nausea. I didn’t personally suffer any motion sickness, but those liable will be pleased to hear Impulse Gear’s implemented several options to make this a smoother experience. Alongside choosing your dominant hand, players can adjust quick turning, weapons placement (between your left/right side) and tunnel vision, which can be adjusted or outright disabled.
You’ll start with more all-rounded characters like Calima, but it doesn’t take long to unlock new specialists through Larcenauts’ progression system, “notoriety”. For example, Evander’s a stealthy sniper with camouflage abilities, Chi can heal teammates and separately freeze herself in a similar manner to Overwatch’s Mei, becoming briefly invincible, while Thal’s able to throw up shields and act as more of a tank-class specialist.
All For One, One For All
That takes place between three modes to pick, set across four well-designed maps. You’ve got the standard deathmatch option, a zone control mode called Refuel and lastly, a capture the flag experience called Uplink. There’s not huge content variety within Larcenauts but I wouldn’t call it barebones, either, though the lack of a ranked option is disappointing. Each mode is well designed and takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. No matter your mode, battles are a strategic affair, requiring co-operation between your teammates to win and this concept lends itself to high-end gameplay.
However, Larcenauts is a slow burner. Earning victories is satisfying, but this game requires patience in learning your preferred character’s abilities. You won’t succeed by going in alone and annoyingly, most specialists are initially locked behind Impulse Gear’s progression system, hampering your ability to form a balanced team right away, though customisation options can also be unlocked for existing specialists like new weapon loadouts. Though Larcenauts rewards player patience, you can come away feeling demotivated just as easily.
While Impulse Gear has laid the groundwork for a solid 6v6 shooter, several design choices hold it back from greatness and having to unlock the entire specialist roster is unnecessarily limiting. There’s room for improvement but ultimately, Larcenauts offers an enjoyable arena shooter with friends that makes you strategize. While it’s not exactly Overwatch in VR, shooter fans willing to grind it out will find an entertaining experience within, one that I’d argue is worth a look.
Review copy provided by the publisher
Reviewed on Oculus Quest 2