Preview: Hubris – An Impressive Early Showcase

There’s always something utterly captivating about epic sci-fi adventures, especially in virtual reality (VR). Half-Life: Alyx, Lone Echo, Stormland, all big expansive videogames with rich narratives and stunning locations that are all must-plays if you’re into VR. Playing Hubris for the first time evokes those same sorts of feelings, an ambitious tale set in a far-flung future. Developer Cyborn only released a short demo teasing what’s to come and it’s certainly promising stuff.

The first real showcase of Hubris came in March ’21 when Cyborn released a tantalising trailer for the videogame, giving everyone a look at this gorgeous world the team was developing. But as we all know, trailers and actual in-game gameplay can be worlds apart, especially when they look as detailed as Hubris made out to be.

Well, it seems as though that trailer and screenshots weren’t lying as Hubris does, in fact, look that good, with the first section of the planet you land on offering stunning sun-beaten rocks and dappled water effects – possibly the best water effects seen in VR to date. And that’s no surprise considering Cyborn’s history as a 3D animation company before moving into videogames. The buildings and tech have that usual clean-cut, sci-fi feel to them, very reminiscent of titles like Halo.

But looks alone won’t carry Hubris with the one hour demo giving a good feel for the physicality the experience will offer. The videogame jumps straight into a training mode where you can run, jump, climb, swim and pick up a gun and batteries, the former for a quick shooting range the latter a hint at the puzzles to come. Hubris is most certainly going to be an action-adventure, as you become an agent of an organisation called the Order-Of-Objectivity, or more commonly known as the OOO.

Planet-side it is your normal light introduction once you’ve stopped gawping at the scenery. A bit of climbing here and there, some platforming and a good chunk of swimming where the only danger is some less than friendly squid-type creatures that can be shot with an underwater plasma gun; their tentacles then harvested for later use.

It was all going really well but the Hubris demo did falter in one regard, grabbing ledges mid-jump. As mentioned, Hubris has plenty of physical gameplay – so it is going to lean towards an intense experience just so you’re aware – and even in this short into there was plenty of jumping and grabbing ledges to become clear that the mechanic is a bit finicky. It really felt like a 50/50 split between whether the grab would work or the inevitable fall to death (or into the water). That was the only real annoyance with Hubris, having such a tight threshold when it came to grabbing ledges.

There wasn’t much else to properly get to grips with, especially as Cyborn has now pushed the launch date back from this year in 2022 at some point. What’s going to be far more revealing is how the team manage to bring such a highly detailed and visually appealing title to Oculus Quest. On PC VR the minimum spec is a GTX 1080 whilst recommended is an RTX 2070, so for Quest, there’s going to be a major hit to the visuals. Hubris is also coming to PlayStation VR so it’ll be fascinating to see how each platform holds up.   

There’s also one other caveat to Hubris that may or may not be of significance to you, it is episodic. This method is appearing more regularly in VR, with some titles making it work for them whilst others have suffered by offering painfully short experiences or what feels like half a videogame. Hopefully, Hubris doesn’t fall into the latter camp with the first part said to offer around 5-6 hours of gaming.

Because from what VRFocus has seen so far of Hubris this could very well be a big surprise hit in 2022. There’s plenty of “wow factor” to the presentation and details Cyborn has revealed so far indicate Hubris could be a big franchise. The studio even has a mini-series called Terra-forma planned for after the videogame launch. But much is still unknown about the gameplay, enemies and whether it’ll be able to compete with the VR sci-fi juggernauts. So final judgement will have to wait. Definitely, one to pop on the wishlist though.

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