Imagine the world we live in changed before our eyes. The world that we knew became frozen and overrun by evil undead monsters. Do you think you would be able to survive what the world has become or would you and many others have to find a different way, a different location in order to bring new meaning to the word survival? Would you reach out to be the one that helps or no matter what, accept the hand that reaches out to you regardless of race in hopes of that survival? But does developer, Vertigo Games show us what it’s like to rise when it seems like everything around us has fallen? Let’s find out with After the Fall for the Quest 2, PCVR, and PlayStation VR.
After the Fall is a VR action FPS shooter with intense co-op gameplay that is set in the ice-covered ruins of Los Angeles set 20 years after the apocalypse. Venture out into the remains of post-apocalyptic L.A., wield deadly weapons and devastating powers with real-life movements as you develop your combat style, and join forces with players worldwide as you go head to head with hordes and towering bosses in a bid to leave the city in a better place than your predecessors. So before going in to make the world a better place, there are a few things that you will want to do first. For starters, decide if you want to play standing or sitting. Second, this is a co-op experience and you might just be surprised how much fun you might have. So turn on your mic. And finally, make sure those controllers and your headset (if needed) are all charged. You don’t want to be in a fight with other players because you didn’t charge something and then become that one person who didn’t think about others. With all that said, let’s continue…
When you first start After the Fall, you immediately are standing in front of an arcade machine with a light gun (remember the setting here is from the 80s) and this is how you will select your options throughout the game which is a welcomed change. You will just need to select your language, your playing position of standing or sitting, and your movement style of sliding or teleporting. I would like to point out that if you are not used to VR movement and may get nauseous at times, select Teleport, otherwise, select the Sliding style. Next, you will just need to calibrate your ammo pouch. Since I was playing sitting (which works quite well), having the ability to move the ammo pouch to where it is best for you is also very nice to have. But it’s when the calibration is complete that you may start to question when the action will start and where is everyone else. I mean, this is supposed to be an online co-op experience, correct?
What you may not realize, is this part of a tutorial of sorts as you are inside a safe room and getting used to not only the movement but also how to interact with different objects. Thankfully, there is a radio communication that will help guide you to where you need to go to power up the saferoom and meet them outside as they are on their way to pick up someone else near your location. The arcade machines that you were first introduced to are used not only for the settings but where you can get new weapons such as an Uzi, shotgun, and even carry two pistols just to name a few that can also allow you to craft it with different attachments such as sights and decrease recoil to name a few as well as items like explosives. Oh, one other thing you will need to do and that is select how you would like your inventory. Do you want to have to use holsters or a weapon wheel? I went with the weapon wheel as reloading is so quick and smooth. I do like how Vertigo Games has used items such as signs, a T.V, and even a VCR among other things to help set the era. Just putting the videotape inside the VR and watching the broadcast just helps to set the tone of the decade.
But it’s when you finally go outside and face your first encounters with the evil undead monsters known as the Snowbreed, that you when you finally can place the face to the voice of the radio communication with Frank who is taking you to the Line. Basically, it’s the hub for all the online players to go on runs as well as talking with Luna who will provide objectives for you to complete.
During runs, you will encounter the enemies known as the Snowbreed. Once they die, they leave behind harvest that you want to collect which you can use at the end of the runs to buy new weapons and other items. To start a match, simply go to anyone one of the arcade machines, pick up the light gun and you will have a few choices to make. You have the Harvest Run and this is where you and others will go on runs as you try and defeat the Snowbreeed. Tundradome is where two teams of four try and battle it out online. And then there is Private Match where you can set up a private match with your friends both old and new. I will say that the tracking works very well with the aiming, maneuvering, and overall gameplay. And really is a blast when you can have a weapon in each hand and just go in like a blaze of glory.
Before you start a run, you can select the different levels of play. Survivor, Veteran, Master, and if you really want a challenge, Nightmare. Maps circled in yellow are your next run, but you can replay the other runs as well. Since this is an online co-op game, up to three other players can join and with After the Fall being cross-platform, that means that someone on the Quest 2 can play with other Quest 2 players, Steam VR, and/or PlayStation VR players which are distinguished by the platform icons which is a nice touch. This also means that communication is key, so before you start going in and talking smack, stop and think before you speak. Let’s keep the gameplay fun and clean and that’s exactly what I experienced every run I went on. If for some reason, someone drops or you start before all the spots fill, there are AI players who will join in. Jimmy is always the one standing in the corner being a lookout. Thank you Jimmy…Thank you. The end goal of course is trying to make it to the safe room at the end of the run.
Snowbreed can come from anywhere and will come in packs. So you and the other players need to look out for rooftops, holes in the wall, the ceilings, and pretty much any and everywhere. There are stronger ones that you will face such as the Smasher that is wanting to smash your hopes and dreams away. The Eater will explode on you causing vision impairment for a short time. And then there is the Juggernaut, who will pummel you into nothing. And don’t be afraid to shoot the limbs off the Snowbreed as blood, body parts, and bodies are all hitting the floors, walls, and pretty much all over the place. If you get frozen, you better hope that one of the other players can give you some juice, otherwise, it’s a serious game of Freeze Tag where you are frozen.
One thing to also note, there is an inventory system that is on each of your wrists and can hold one item. So if you happen to find a disc or juicer (to help you or others to heal up) you can store it while still holding your weapons and doing what you do best. In the Tundradome mode (four vs four), I attempted many times and the lobby for this would fill up, however, the match would never start. I was never able to be the leader of the mode to see if I could start it on my end, but every time I tried to go in and out, and even with new people. It would on occasion say offline, but I was connected as I was able to join in the Harvest Runs with other people and talk with them, but the results were the same for the Tundradome mode.
Let’s look at the graphics and sound. The graphics are good, but depending on which platform you play on, there will be some advantages. For example, on PC you are going to have much more detail. I did notice on the Quest 2 version that bodies of the Snowbreed would start to disappear instead of staying around. This is in no way a strike against the Quest 2 version as our group just kept moving along, when you have to turn around and see where there should be bodies, but their blood, it does give an eerie feeling to some of the levels. Even though there might be a few visual details that are noticed, it really shows how much work went into the Quest 2 version and the game itself.
With the sound, the 3D audio is done very well here. Hearing bullets go behind you are moving around as the room gets full of enemies while also hearing the other players talk and scream when some of the jump scares come through is well balanced and quite entertaining. In fact, Vertigo Games used their own in-house tech for the voice comms for the different platforms and I have to say, communication is key and everyone from the different platforms I encounter sounded very clear.
There are a few things that I would like to see added. For one, more content. What we get at launch is a handful of runs. But keep in mind, each is different because you are not always playing with the same people. Second, addiontal modes. I would love to see a four vs four CTF or even a Freeze Tag type game mode added. But the good news is that more maps, systems, and modes are coming. Third, there were a few times when someone left and I was forced to go back to the main hub. Maybe adding a way for AI to automatically join in or other players instead of having to restart the run.
After the Fall brings the fun of online cross-platform co-op action and throws us into the action. It shows us what can happen when we are forced to work together and our differences put aside if we were faced with a threat against humanity regardless of where we come from or race. And isn’t that something we should all strive for today so we can have a better tomorrow?
In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have more weapons to craft and people to go on runs with.