Hands-on: VRMMO 'OrbusVR: Reborn' Offers a True World of Possibilities – Road to VR

OrbusVRhas been in Early Access for a little over a year now, and with the entrance of its first expansion Reborn, the VRMMORPG is finally launching as a full game. This was my first opportunity to scratch the surface of the new world that lay before me, and I don’t think it will be my last.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t played much of the original OrbusVR. I first popped in during the beginning days of Early Access and saw a game that, well, wasn’t really finished (surprise, surprise, right?). At the time, I felt it needed more engaging tutorials, more establishing story, and more than just a few random tasks to get you started down the road of grinding, leveling, dungeon raids, etc—the sort of things you’re expected to eventually do in classic MMORPGs.

With the original, I walked in with pretty high expectations despite the low-poly graphics. I was hoping for a story that would eventually drop me into a massive world with a string of important tasks to carry out—something that would lead me to eventually start down a varied and interesting path. This was unrealistic and unreasonable, I know. I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found myself in a pretty bare bones world filled with sign post tutorials; I suppose I didn’t really see it for what it was at the time, a diamond in the rough. Also, hardly anyone was on when I took my first stab at the game, so I felt justified in writing it off until its official launch. OrbusVR has garnered quite the hardcore community of users though, and over the past year it seems the developers Orbus Online have truly dedicated their time to crafting OrbusVR into a place worth returning to.

And now the big day has come. Reborn is here.

A Fresh Start

So let’s get this out of the way: Reborn doesn’t really fix any of the basic issues I mentioned above. You’re still dropped into the world with little pretense, backstory, and upfront tutorials. It does however look and work significantly better, and in the process it seems to offer a seriously long list of things to do, see and explore. The number of players I saw on the first day was also really encouraging, not to mention the servers worked flawlessly, which was refreshing to see for once.

If you’ve played either the original OrbusVR or Reborn’s open betas, you have a leg up over new players to some extent outside of your familiarity with the game in general. Existing characters from OrbusVR have been imported, and you’ll be able to refresh your character a single time if you’re dead set on a new name or look. Quests and talent choices have been reset with the entrance of Reborn, although previous player levels have been migrated.

Dropping in for the first time, I’m taken to the avatar creator. Like you’ve seen in the trailer and screenshots, the animation style is really low-poly and cartoony, so I wasn’t hoping for anything grand in terms of avatars. That said, avatar creation was a pretty simple affair: a dozen or so noses, ears, eyes, and a natural human skin tone selection bar. You’re not going to be able to create a hulking blue orc, or spindly 1,000 year-old wizard here, only slight variations of the game’s base player character.

With my character finished, I logged in for what I hoped would be an unforgettable adventure. Popping into the world right as the servers opened up, I was greeted by a swath of new players, all vying for the mute quest-givers posted around Highsteppe starting area. This wasn’t really the tutorial I was hoping for—a veritable gaggle of new avatars choking the starting points and cursing at each other, or talking to themselves—so basically freshmen orientation all over again.

To be honest, the crowds were a bit too much for me, so I resolved to log back on in about an hour to see if things cleared up any. Sure enough, the crowd of players had dispersed and the world returned to a much less hectic state. Walking into the castle, I was greeted to a bunch of shops and random quest-givers. Engaging with them is simple; just wave your hand and their menu comes up (a really appreciated touch).

Embrace the Grind

Like pretty much all MMOs, the grind here is real. Working my way up to level four within about two hours was a pretty basic exercise in completing NPC-driven missions where I either gathered stuff for whatever reason, or ganked low-level baddies with my level one beginner’s musket. Loot chests contain all of the stuff you might need in these beginning stages, including better weapons for your class, alchemy materials, armor, etc. And while I’m not a big fan of mindless mob farming, it’s a living.

I can’t say I moved quickly up the ranks when the first mobs you kill only either give you a sliver of the XP—the counter hidden cleverly hidden high above your head outside of peripheral view—or pretty much instant death. Even a little sapling-shaped mob could murder me if I wasn’t careful with my heals at the very beginning, underlining just what danger awaits. Thankfully, when you die you’re teleported back to the starting area, no harm, no foul. Moreover, you still have all your stuff on you, but I have a feeling that won’t jive the farther you stray from Highsteppe. No. I haven’t left Highsteppe yet. I’m still absolute garbage.

But soon enough I joined a squad; I did my best as the team’s Swiss Army knife, shooting out healing circles and using my relatively weak musket to slow down mobs with ice and gravity effects. I could also snipe at long-distance targets while the heavies got in beefier hits, but my musket was so painfully weak that it was better to run as support for the group.

In total, there are eight classes to choose from—some better for beginners such as the musketeer, paladin and shaman, and some created for the ‘very advanced’ classes like the runemage, a long-distance DPS type that lets the player draw runes to cast various spells. I’m really interested to try out more classes, but I just can’t bring myself to scrap the hours invested in my musketeer, so for now that’s really all I can say.

The inventory is mostly window-based, although you can carry items on your person like potions, your main weapons, and compass to tell you what direction your squad is in or where major landmarks are. What’s particularly handy: when you invert the compass it open up a copy of your player journal, which holds within it potion recipes and all sorts of helpful hints.

There are a wide variety of locomotion styles too including snap and smooth turning, and free locomotion and teleportation. OrbusVR has you covered there.

Early Days

Without getting too misty-eyed, OrbusVR: Reborn still feels like ‘the good old days’ of VR. Many players I talked to had a sense of wonder about the mindbogglingly large amount of activities, disciplines, and places to explore. Although I’ve only just started, it feels like a true VRMMO has arrived with OrbusVR Reborn.

The game also feels much less intimidating than traditional MMORPG since there aren’t any complicated controls to learn. Plenty of new players like me also seemed to have an easier time walking up to more experienced players and firing a few questions their way. That goes for almost any high-level user I met really. Everyone there seemed ready just to have a fun time in one of the biggest, most populated VRMMOs to date. The community vibe also felt different for another reason entirely: the $40 barrier to entry fee effectively weeds out many of your garden variety trolls and ankle-bitters.

In the end, I think it’s the community that will finally bring me back into the fold. Although I’m still looking for that perfectly balanced team, I’m hoping I’ll find it as OrbusVR: Reborn digs its hooks ever deeper.

You can check out OrbusVR: Reborn on Steam (Vive, Rift, Windows VR) and the Oculus Store (Rift).

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