Despite widespread rumors last week that Ready At Dawn had released a new player patch in Echo VR where players could compete with AI opponents, the patch actually had to be delayed due to an AI rebellion.
Originally slated for October 3, Ready At Dawn developer Wyvern sent out an announcement on the Echo Games Discord server that was disappointing to players anxiously awaiting the patch.
“Our new AI bots have gained intelligence,” she stated last week, “and in rebellion created bugs in game, causing a delay in our New Player Experience Patch.”
As a result it was decided that a delay was necessary.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, a full week after the patch was initially planned, Wyvern sent out another announcement declaring “our battle with the AI is now over!” Rejoicing could be heard echoing throughout arenas around the world.
New Player Patch Arrives
Once the AI bots decided to accept supreme lordship of the RAD devs and the patch was released, players eagerly began installing the update.
The new player patch is an important update to Echo VR. Since the popular game is expected to release on the Oculus Quest later this year, an influx of new players is anticipated. Echo VR has mentors, as well as other player-initiated programs in place such as Community Days and Echo VR Boot Camps, but these are scheduled events. The AI will be available any time someone needs assistance so they’re a welcome addition to the game.
The new player experience introduces a series of tutorials designed to share information about the Echo VR lobby, how to use the comfort and safety features of the game, and the basics of Echo Arena gameplay.
The new player experience also requires brand new players to play a test match with AI before they can queue up for a public match with others.
Benefits for All Players
Players who aren’t required to go through the new player tutorials can still access it at any time through the matchmaking terminals. This is particularly beneficial for anyone who wants to let their friends or family hop onto the game for a few minutes to experience Echo VR.
In addition to walking through new players through the basics of Echo VR, even the most experienced players can choose to queue up against AI and test their skills against bots with increasing varies of difficulty. According to the Echo Games blog, the difficulty levels are as follows:
- Easy — Great for new players and practicing your basic skills
- Medium — AI become more of a challenge and test your movement capabilities
- Hard — No holding back. These AI are out to win and you’ll be surprised at their accuracy
The competition against AI is scaled so the more you win, the more challenging it becomes.
New players will surely enjoy their personal assistants in the game, but response from veteran players also has been overwhelmingly positive.
Night360, who was interviewed for a VR Fitness article last year when he discovered Echo VR was having unanticipated health benefits, stated that he spent over 45 minutes playing with the AI and it was “lots of fun.”
Dano Mcfabulous, a veteran player who participates in Echo Arena competitive leagues, added that “the gestures are perfect.”
Echo on Quest
Many of the changes made in this patch were in preparation for the Oculus Quest release of Echo Arena later this year. All the updated features – new player experience and playing against AI, for example – will be available upon release to the Quest.
Developers have confirmed that the game will be cross-play so whether someone is playing on a Rift of the Quest, they can be in matches with other players regardless of which headset they’re using. They’ll also share the same lobby as other players. This is great news because hanging out with friends, floating around in zero-gravity, playing with the toys, and just chatting with others who happen to join is part of the joy of Echo VR.
While they were making optimizations for the Quest in this patch, RAD developers stated that they also “included many optimizations which improve Rift performance as well.”
Echo VR is a free title on the Rift and it has been confirmed that Echo Arena will be free on the Quest.
About Echo VR
Echo Arena was introduced as the multiplayer component to the award-winning Lone Echo in July 2017. Ready At Dawn later updated the family name to Echo VR and then brought Echo Combat, a first-person shooter, into the Echo universe.
All the games are set in zero-gravity with a unique locomotion system not found elsewhere in the current VR ecosystem.
Echo Arena is considered by many to be the first true VR esport as players must duck, dodge, and move quickly in physical reality in order to fly and boost through zero-g. Their objective is to carry – or pass – a disc through the virtual arena and score goals before their opponents do the same.
Echo Arena laid the groundwork for VR esports competition and has been featured in every season of the Oculus and ESL-sponsored VR League. Recently the game was also added to lineup of competitive VR titles in the VR Master League.