With VR being in its infancy in relativity to all other gaming platforms, it’s still getting finding its footing in terms of genres. We have the ever-popular rhythm genre, the shooters, the swords and sorcery experiences, and the sports. Seems like there are very few genres left to create, that’s why when one appears to do just that, even if it’s not the most polished or lengthy affair, it’s worth taking note and Blaston is a perfect example of that kind of achievement. It’s a blend of several genres that completely creates something that is unique, even if the result is unspectacular, it’s to be commended for trying to break the mold.
Blaston is a pretty simple setup, you go against either AI or a player-controlled opponent in a small arena with a semi-bodied avatar that is incredibly reminiscent of one of this year’s previous offerings in the form of Ironlights. Where Ironlights relied on Swordplay though, Blaston relies on gunplay and there is a surprising amount of variety in the weapons despite what appears to be a pretty straightforward game. As you progress you unlock more and more unique weapons and each one changes up the strategy you take into a round. There’s your rudimentary pistol, shotgun, shield, a slow-moving projectile weapon that will take ages to get to your opponent, but causes big damage if it hits and can be used as a distraction as well. The point of the game is to fully take down your opponent’s health bar. You can accomplish this by just going on an all-out rampage from the start, or you can take a more measured approach that sees you using a lot of dodging and ducking to run your opponent’s weapon well dry before they can land a hit on you. The catch here is that you have to change your weapon when you run out of ammo, so creating a loadout that fits your playstyle is part of the fun.
What it Feels Like to Play
The action that takes place in Blaston is similar to Ironlights in that it’s based around slow-motion, bullets all move in a far slower state than what you’re used to seeing, and because of this the ability to turn this game into a real-life Matrix simulator. You’ll be jumping from side to side, stretching your arms in bizarre ways to try and pull off the perfect shot that will end your opponent’s health bar, it’s good stuff. It all comes together with a quirky presentation that doesn’t take itself too seriously while providing some great colors to delight the eyes as you run through the world’s best quickdraws. The weapon selection is pretty great, allowing you for some interesting combinations that each offer their own perks. The playstyles I’ve come across have been pretty varied and it’s honestly hard to tell whether I’m playing a bot or a real person. After a while though, you’re going to recognize patterns that only the AI can employ, and this quickly becomes easy to identify and take advantage of.
What Will Keep You Playing
The fact that this game is multiplayer focused means the content is essentially endless. The workout you get from entering this colorful bullet hell is pretty damn great and you can constantly find either players across the world or just challenge yourself versus the AI. The loadouts are wildly varied and you can expect to have a completely different experience fighting someone who’s been playing for a while vs. someone who just picked it up. The weapon variety is the itch that will keep you coming back to see what else you can unlock and the workout angle makes it something that you can incorporate into your daily workout.
This is a highly active game that will require a 5×5 play space to get the most out of it. You’re going to be dodging, ducking, and jumping all over the place during your games and it’s recommended you have a sizable amount of space around you without any breakable objects.
I recorded my workout with a Fitbit and played on a Samsung Odyssey Plus Windows Mixed Reality Headset.
Calories burned: 100
Calories burned per minute: 3
Average Heart Rate: 85
Max Heart Rate: 119
Active Minutes: 31:18
Blaston is a great way to get your workout going and although it isn’t the most intense, consistently sweat dripping VR exercise you can engage in, depending on your opponent, it’s a hell of a fun time. Matches change from player to player, so in some games, you might be dodging constantly and in others, you might be on the offensive. It’s a dance for sure, but a very active and sweat-inducing dance if your opponent is ultra skilled. You’re going to hopping from match to match in your playtime here so it’s not crazy to get an amazing workout after a lengthy amount of play.
It’s arm centric when it comes to the gameplay in Blaston. You’re going to be utilizing both hands at all times usually and even if you don’t have a gun equipped in one, you’re going to be flailing your arms to escape enemy attacks. It’s tough to really get a hold on what registers as a hit and what doesn’t. I couldn’t really tell whether my arms would take hits or not, so I made sure they were always moving just in case, and besides, if you’re looking to immerse yourself, well, you wouldn’t want your arms being hit with bullets anyway right?
Surprisingly, a game about dueling your opponent with a wild set of weapons in a futuristic play space relies a ton on your lower body. The reason? Because there are no real rules in this game. If you want to turn your opponent into a hyperactive rabbit, hopping around the battlefield, then aim low and watch as they likely trip over themselves trying to dodge your barrage of bullets. The same goes for you though, so get ready to play the most dangerous form of hopscotch ever as you’re getting your footwork in all across your living room while attempting to focus on landing the perfect shot. You’ll be needing to duck a whole lot too as you’re going to be likely headhunted during your matches as I was constantly so I was doing the equivalent of let’s say 30-50 squats every round to get out of the way of the bullet hailstorm.
I hope you’ve been doing your ab circuits because your core is going to be heavily involved in matches in Blaston. The offensive nature of the game will be largely arms centric, but when it comes to defense, it’s all core and legs and balance. When you are ducking the various projectiles coming at you, you’re going to be doing ab crunches nonstop as well as torquing your body in every kind of angle possible to escape the oncoming attacks. Imagine yourself as one of the ships in Galaga, yes this is an ancient game, but that game was about being rained upon by bullets and lasers while trying to mount your own attack. That’s what you are here, just in a much more personal way. Your core usage will be as good as your opponent wants it to be. This leads to a pretty varied way of playing that’s both refreshing and surprisingly sweat-inducing.
Time perception- 10/10
VR competition is something that already has become pretty damn addicting and Blaston introduces its own dog to the fight in the VR multiplayer world and it’s incredibly easy to get lost within the game. With tons of combinations of guns to use in your loadout and a pretty much-unlimited amount of strategy you can take into any particular fight, the flexibility in gameplay will allow for multiple game styles in this particular game loop grips you. It’s also very easy on the eyes and will run on just about any VR setup. I’ve tried it on both a 1060 GTX as well as a 2070 Super GTX. Both ran extremely well, with only your connection being something that could cause some gameplay lag.
This is a multiplayer title primarily and by its nature, is nearly endless in its replayability. If you find some friends to get the game with you, you will have hours and hours of fun and it’s one of the few cases like that in VR. A game I would liken it to would be SPARC, though here there are far more ways to play as well as AI-controlled opponents to take over if no other players are available. I thought there were plenty of players online while I was playing the game, so it seems like the player base is rock solid right now and you should have little to no problem finding someone to play with. Even if you can’t find someone, the AI is fun enough to play against even if it’s a bit too easy to exploit after a while.
Fitness Scalability- 6/10
There aren’t a ton of options here to mess with the fitness aspect here. Your experience with the fitness side of the game largely depends on your opponent. If the player you’re going against takes only headshots, then you’re going to be in a crouched position for a lot of the game. This will be taxing on your legs, but not necessarily a great workout. Conversely, if your opponent is mixing up high and low shots, which seems to be the best strategy, then you’re going to be squatting, jumping, hopping side to side and it can be an incredible workout. This is completely up to chance though, so you have to get a bit lucky to have an ideal workout here.
Lack of Nausea- 10/10
My experience with Blaston was flawless from a dizziness perspective. The framerate was incredibly smooth and I didn’t experience any gameplay lag at all during my time with the game. The graphics are bright and colorful, but nothing produced any real eye strain and even the storm of the projectiles coming at your face never really caused any nausea or feeling of being physically overwhelmed. You’re also not going to have to worry about any form of locomotion since all the movement throughout the game is based on your body and your body alone. The only thing I could imagine that might cause some nausea is having to turn to your left and right constantly to see what new gun you want to equp, but I didn’t see any real issue.
Social Competition- 9/10
Blaston has a focus on its multiplayer and it’s very apparent how much care went into this game as there are multiple ways to interact with other players. There are the normal matches, but then there’s the Ozo Lounge where you and 8 other players can just hang out and socialize a bit. This is an awesome addition and you can duel other players while people spectate, or simply just hang out and talk. This isn’t a lot different from something like Rec Room or VR Chat, but that doesn’t matter, it’s a great thing to have in a multiplayer game and shows that VR is more than just about gaming, it can also be about bringing people together. The gameplay is great and the ability to challenge another player in a real-time gunfight is a great time and one that carries a lot of replayability.
VR Fit Score- 8.6/10
Game Score- 8/10
Blaston is an original and fun take on VR multiplayer that gives you a wealth of options to customize your play style and great options to socialize with other players. The gameplay is responsive and it can give you quite a workout. The graphics create a fun atmosphere that has a unique flavor to it and fits the action perfectly, while the effects all over the screen are nicely animated and nothing stresses your eyes too much during gameplay.
There isn’t a ton of variety in the gameplay in that, you’re going to be dueling people with guns and that’s that, there aren’t bosses, there isn’t a story, it’s a straightforward affair that you’ll either love for what it is or possibly get bored of soon after playing it. The graphics are very simple too and give off a “for kids” type of feel that will certainly not be for everyone. There could be more modes available as the 1v1 definitely gets old after a while.