OK so I’m going to be a little self indulgent here, but I don’t get to say this kind of thing very often so shush, let me have this.
At PAX Australia this past weekend I got the opportunity to play a game called Primal Carnage: Onslaught, a virtual reality iteration of the dinosaur shooter Primal Carnage and developed by Melbourne based studio Pub Games. Onslaught was only announced last week on November 3, making the PAX demo the very first time the game was played by anyone outside of the developers themselves. Players are essentially tasked with standing in an area, VR motion controllers in hand and surviving wave after wave of dinosaur attacks. At first the dinosaurs are small and kind of underwhelming, but thankfully they escalate to bigger foes like velociraptors and dilophosaurus (the spitting ones from Jurassic Park).
But yours truly was the first member of the public EVER to survive long enough to reach the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. And then I ballsed it up, majorly.
I’d been doing so well too, I had a system and everything. But alas, sheer panic proved to be my downfall. The record may be mine, but goddamn did I look like a fool. So buckle up for my rise to, and subsequent fall from, fame.
The Primal Carnage: Onslaught demo was running on an HTC Vive, which provided a striking sense of clarity in the close to middle distance, but still suffered from some slightly blurry visuals at long range similar to Playstation VR. However the developers took advantage of the two buttons located on the Vive controllers’ grips by making it a requirement that you keep them held down to keep hold of your weapons. Pretty simple really, you want to hold something you had to actually hold it. Although it took some getting used to since sometimes while reaching for a weapon I accidentally pulled the clip out of my current one, it certainly made the experience feel more real as while I was aiming my arm muscles were engaged as they would be holding a real gun.
Anyway, after opening the game’s weapon buying menu I selected the best gun I could afford with the starting amount of cash, a sub-machine gun, and went about blasting dinosaurs in the face. I could have opted to hold two guns, but to reload I needed a free hand to insert fresh magazines so instead I held a combat machete in my left hand and dropped it whenever I ran out of ammo. I was going full Rambo.
So there I was; shooting dinosaurs, dropping my machete, reloading my gun, picking up my machete, shooting more dinosaurs, rinse and repeat. I eventually earned enough cash to buy myself an M4 assault rifle. I was a well oiled, reptile slaughtering machine.
Each wave of dinosaurs was broken up by moments of quiet tension, where the full immersion of the Vive made listening for the next batch of predators an adrenaline pumping experience. One moment you’d be taking in the serene beauty of the environment, the next you’d see something in the corner of your eye and spray it with bullets.
It was during one of these quiet moments where I was waiting for the next run of raptors to massacre that I heard a thump. Followed by another thump. And suddenly, some 100ish virtual metres ahead of me, the T-Rex walked into view. I didn’t know it at the time since I was completely submerged in the Vive, but the Pub Games team were suddenly scrambling over to my station to have a look. This was a big moment for them, someone had finally reached the T-Rex.
I immediately began pumping bullets into it with my M4. My clip ran dry, I quickly swapped it for a fresh one and continued firing. The Rex just kept coming, completely unfazed by the lead shower I was dousing it in. I faintly heard one of the developers yell to me from outside my headphones: “you might want a second gun, mate!”
“On it,” I replied. I brought up the buy menu (which doesn’t pause the game mind you), selected the biggest gun I could afford and equipped it, ready to double my fire power and waste this prehistoric chump. But alas, my new gun didn’t come loaded. The T-Rex was getting closer, and in sheer panic my fingers slipped off the grips and I dropped both my guns. I rushed to pick one of them up, loaded it, dropped it, picked up the other, loaded it and then got both of them ready to roll.
I looked up and to see the T-Rex looming right over me. Its head was massive, and its jaws opened wide as it came down to bite me in half. I screamed like a 14 year old at a Taylor Swift concert, arms flailing and cowering in fear.
And then it was over. I took my headset off and was greeted with much laughter and congratulations for my efforts. I even made the top score for the day with 1650 points, although Pub Games’ Chris Murphy informs me I tied for second place at PAX overall. If the victor could make themselves known to me I’d appreciate it, I’ll fight youse.
Primal Carnage: Onslaught is set for release on Steam Early Access by the end of the year with support for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.