Roguelikes are a genre that feels perfect for VR. The instant replayability and unique ways of reusing similar ideas mean you can cut space on the Oculus Quest and repeating even basic gameplay loops can stay entertaining for a long time. We just need a really good one to come along and justify the space in our storage. Although it's still in the early stages, Mothergunship: Forge has the potential to be truly great.
If you've played the original Mothergunship, you will probably know it for hectic fights, tonnes of upgrade options, and lots of replayability. Mothergunship: Forge has a lot of the same characteristics but toned down for VR. They aren't nearly as many enemies on screen at one time but there are certainly enough to keep your focus throughout every fight.
It's good that the combat is engaging because the story is practically non-existent. I booted up the game and was immediately met by a fistfight to unlock the first gun. Admittedly, this fistfight was the worst part of my entire time with the game. The collision didn't feel right and the enemies moved on a guided path. This meant that an unsuccessful hit would leave you waiting for them to come back and try again. This was a slow start but it picked up very soon after.
Once you've defeated the first central room, you are given the choice between two connectors. You can put this on one of your arms, where you can attach weapons, new bullets, and buffs. Connectors come with sockets that allow you to attach things to them. As long as you have a socket, you can add more. This "build your own weapon" approach to combat is excellent - a brilliant choice for a roguelike. Although my preview of the game only allowed me to play until I beat the first boss, I repeated the first section multiple times just to figure out what kinds of whacky guns I could build.
Everything is Customizable
You can add repeaters, shotguns, missiles, and more, and these all fire from the angle you have assigned your socket to. If the rocket points up, you have to angle your arm downwards to point in the right direction. In this sense, you often aren't supposed to hit things on the first go - making mistakes feel like part of the experience.
As well as shooting your enemies, you can bob and weave in between shots or use the movements system to change the position of your character in a small area. Arenas can't be explored but a small stage in front of you can be. This leaves it feeling a small bit like it's on rails. This is not a bad thing.
The on-rails approach means you are constantly moving your body around, rather than your joystick. Although there was never a huge amount of bullets flying, all combat felt tense. I was always worried a stray shot would connect and chip away at my health. Mothergunship: Forge balances tension with progression really well, making every replay more enjoyable.
In these replays comes a store, new upgrade paths, and unique rooms to choose from. At the end of every combat encounter, you can pick your direction forward and this is often met by some form of reward. You could choose to find parts - constantly upgrading and changing around your arms - or you could go for the cash, saving enough to splurge on the shops.
Though the constant decisions and upgrades kept me entertained in my time with the game so far, I would love to see it get weirder with everything. It would be great to see some strange gun choices and upgrades that don't quite make sense. When playing these kinds of roguelikes, one of my favorite things to do is find weird guns and pick the right build to make it work. Mothergunship: Forge doesn't have too much of a focus on a build just yet and it would be a shame to miss out on this kind of gameplay exploration.
The music and art help add to the no-nonsense atmosphere of the game well. It has this oppressive atmosphere to the sights and sounds, yet a jokey commentator lightens the mood into this very arcadey place. Although the backdrop is dark, the game isn't. It cares about fun above all else.
A Bright Future in a Dark Factory
Mothergunship: Forge has made plenty of great choices, adapting its original formula to VR. It removes some of the hell from bullet hell and replaces it with tonnes of your own bullets. With interesting upgrades, a fascinating gun creation engine, and enough little stats to micromanage, I felt constantly engaged and growing throughout. Though I only got a small snippet of the game, I can't wait to see where it goes on release.
TechRaptor previewed Mothergunship: Forge on Meta Quest 2 with a code provided by the publisher. It's set for release on June 16th, 2022