Preview: Telefrag VR – Frantic Topsy Turvy Action

When it comes to online multiplayer shooters virtual reality (VR) gamers have got an interesting choice to make, do they go for the more standard traditional fair of videogames like Onward or go for the more freeing zero-g option of titles such as Echo Combat or Space Junkies. Sometimes the choice comes down to how comfortable you are in VR – or how much your head can handle. VR developer Anshar Studios is already well versed in this genre thanks to Detached, but has now offered an alternative in Telefrag VR. 

Having first come across Telefrag VR as a very early version during Gamescom 2018 it was easy to see the studio had a rather interesting concept, expanding the often used teleportation mechanic and turning it into an offensive weapon.

Currently running a beta for Telefrag VR the experience has come a long way in the last seven months, yet the core principle has stayed the same – as well as the devastating telefrag move. While these PvP battles don’t really need a storyline as such, one has been created to shed some light on Telefrag VR’s thought-provoking arena design. Here the Roman Empire never died out, instead, it flourished into the stars, and what you happen to be playing is a modern version of a gladiatorial battle to the death. So there are plenty of pillars and grand statues to admire amongst the M.C. Escher looking levels, which contort to offer various gravity-defying platforms to fight on.

Yet there isn’t a great deal of time to admire this bold scenery as battles are very Quake-like – ­fast and brutal – staying still is never an option. Telefrag VR encourages players to explore the levels rather than staying in a single location, explore and bonuses like health, and armour can be found to help bolster defences – especially handy if an opponent has just been killed.

Killing your foe comes down to four possibilities, the previously mentioned telefrag or the three guns currently available, a Rocket Launcher, Flak Cannon or a Plasma Rifle, each of which has a dual firing mode. As stated Telefrag VR is fast, so fights tend to occur close to mid-range rather than at extended distances. Prior to each match, there are three loadout options consisting of those three weapons. Once you’ve used all three loadouts then that’s the match lost. So do you go for your favourite loadout first or save it to last if you’re having a bad match?

Realistically though, gameplay is all about perfecting that telefrag manoeuvre which is essentially a one hit kill. It can be done at a reasonable distance but firing the telefrag creates a massive electrical blue ball which is easily noticed – and therefore avoided. So again it’s about getting close to using it fight at the last second. Get it right and it’s highly satisfying.

However, mastering the move requires mastering the basic locomotion which isn’t so straight forward and will either be liked or despised by players. It’s not full free locomotion where you can run around however you please, instead it feels more like an advanced version of snap rotation. Movement is in brief stages, and only forwards/backwards and left/right, so it does seem slightly weird at first. What it does mean – and hopefully achieve in more sensitive players – is greater comfort. The matches may be fast, with platforms all over the place yet it never felt jarring or unpleasant in any way.

Telefrag VR already exhibits a high level of polish even in this beta stage, and as it’s free and easy to join for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift players it’s certainly well worth a look while it’s available. VRFocus found no issues finding matches, jumping straight into several, and found them to be short fun battles. As development continues VRFocus is looking forward to seeing how Telefrag VR progresses.

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