VR FPS Arcade Shooter Space Junkies Is Available Now

By Mike Herauf on April 16, 2019 | Featured Stories Virtual Reality

VR gaming has come a long way over the years. With the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive several years back, VR games have been getting better and better. There are several great looking VR games on the horizon. Asgard’s Wrath, Population One, and Stormland are just some of the strong VR games coming in 2019. The future is looking bright for VR gaming!

This month we’re going to take a look at Space Junkies, a VR title from Ubisoft Montpellier.

Space Junkies is a PVP, skill-based multiplayer VR FPS where players face-off against other players in a variety of orbital arenas. Players are equipped with jetpacks and have complete freedom of movement throughout the arena. This also present a challenge as attacks can come from just about anywhere. Players can use their hands and body to manipulate both the environment and weapons, and the full use of motion controllers allows for the use of hand gestures. It’s fun to be able to taunt other players with your hand gestures in real-time (as opposed to pressing a macro key on a mouse or keyboard), particularly when you can do just about anything.

Space Junkies provides loads of options that provides great depth. First are the four modes of play, free-for-all, 2v2 deathmatch, 1v1 deathmatch, and king of the crown, and you can play any of them on six different orbital stations.

Second are the five different character types, the Kessler, Shellshock, Junker, Juggernaut, and Buzzkill, the player can choose to utilise.

Third are the variety of weapons and equipment the player has at their disposal, and they all have great names. There’s the Sunblaster, a single handed pistol with a laser site. Players can actually wield two for double the action. There’s the Cosmic Ripper, a powerful mini-gun that can be used with two hands for greater precision, or dual wielded for massive amounts of destruction. Next up is the Ricoshaker, a fast firing weapon with bouncy projectiles. The Biompump is a pump action shotgun. The Plasma Rifle is a long range sniper rifle. The Slingshot lops explosives that turn your opponents into dust. And finally there’s the Rocket Rumble, an over the shoulder rocket launcher with homing missiles.   

Players can also add equipment to their character that act as “buffs”. There’s a Solar Sword (the only melee weapon in the game), a Photon Shield (great against all attacks except the Rocket Rumble), a Lure (to draw opponents closer to you), Sonar (to find you opponent on the map), EMP (temporarily disable your opponent), and a Medkit (for healing).

The mix of all of the above makes Space Junkies a lot of fun. It has a classic shooter vibe (Unreal Tournament, Quake), so it’s all about fast reflexes. Strangely enough, it’s not drastically different than playing those old FPS games. The difference of course is your entire body is engaged, not just your hands on the mouse and keyboard. Admittedly it does take a bit of time getting used to this, but once you do, it’s easy to pick up.

The controls for the Vive are intuitive enough (I only played on Vive, the game is also available on the Oculus Rift). The player controls the jetpack’s forward motion with the thumbpad on the left stick, and strafing and up and down direction with the thumbpad on the right stick. Your head movement (naturally) is what dictates the direction you are facing. Players must “grip” their weapons using the side buttons on the Vive stick, and shoot via the trigger at the bottom of the stick.

The level of immersion is quite intense and VR really does make you feel like you’re in on the action. I found myself flinching many times when I turned the corner and ran into an opponent, or when I saw them firing at me I’d try to dodge or lean away, or frantically looking around the arena for where my opponents were so I wouldn’t get shot.    

The levels are all varied and again, have a very old school FPS design to them. Knowing the map is crucial to victory. The arenas themselves look great, with bright colours, intuitive signage, and different spots to ambush your opponents.

Ubisoft Montpellier has plans for future DLC, featuring more characters, maps, and play modes.

Players have been enjoying the game, with positive reviews on both Steam and the Rift store. The press are having fun too:

UploadVR said “Space Junkies does what games have done for decades: it brings a smile to your face. It’s the kind of game you can either play for one match, or accidentally lose hours to.”

Space Junkies is available on both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.