'Archangel' Hands-On Impressions: What Happens When A Movie Studio Makes Video Games?

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Archangel takes place in Chicago, or what's left of it anyway Skydance

Virtual reality may be all the rage in gaming, but right now there aren't that many stand-out games to actually play. That void of major development was noticed by the movie production company Skydance, who formed a video game division to break into the scene. The company's first game, Archangel, is preparing for a July release and hopes to scratch that AAA itch many have with VR games.

Archangel is a first-person mech shooter, with players hopping into the cockpit of a futuristic robot fighting machine. A massive rebellion has hit America, largely spurred on by catastrophic ecological disaster, and players find themselves fighting against an oppressive regime using an untested weapon of war. If that sounds intense and bleak, then mission accomplished for Skydance.

Gameplay for Archangel is fairly simple. Using VR controllers, players must shoot down enemy tanks, planes, missiles and more. Each hand of the mech you're piloting has two weapons, and switching between all four weapons is crucial to make it through Archangel alive. Players also have access to shields, but enemy missiles and other larger attacks can easily break through the shields to still deal damage. Really, Archangel is a fancy shooting gallery, but on rails.

Additionally, players can unlock upgrades and customization options to fine-tune the mech to match your preferred play style. In my demo, I only had access to the machine gun, rail gun, missile launcher and multi-target missiles, but other weapons can be swapped in and out to get the combination you want.

Where Archangel sets itself above the competition is the world it creates. The goal for Skydance was not just to create a fun game to play, but also to create a war movie-like narrative filled with more stories than one army fighting against another. Players will march into battle alongside AI companions, getting to know each character through the banter between everyone. These connections help keep the story moving forward, making a large-scale war much more personal and intimate.

Archangel is aiming to keep the experience short and sweet. I was told the game will only be a few hours long, which may be off-putting to some. Personally, I see this as a large benefit. A shorter game allows for a tighter narrative, allowing the team at Skydance to play to the strengths of the studio's storytelling pedigree. Not every game should be a 60+ hour epic, and that's ok.

While the gameplay of Archangel is fun, if slightly generic, the success of the game will depend on if the story can live up to its intriguing promises. To find out, we'll just have to wait until the full game is released and see for ourselves. 

Archangel will be coming to the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PSVR in July. No specific date has been mentioned as of yet.

So what do you think? Are you excited to see more of a push for AAA quality games on VR headsets? Will you hold off on getting a VR headset until more games are available? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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