Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Images: Sanzaru Games

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Published 

1st Jun 2023 18:28

For all of its exciting advantages and fun novelties, VR has experienced a slow stagnation in the wider gaming world. The method is a delight in short doses in most cases, allowing players to be entirely immersed in any given world until the novelties wear, the eyes hurt, or motion sets in like you're about a cruiser in a storm.

Advancements have been made over the years, with increased capabilities, graphical fidelity, and better responsiveness to help to assuage this, but there's one enduring frustration with the medium in spite of its setbacks. Even though it's tough for some to persist beyond slim gameplay times, developers don't often create games for those who can persist.

Even though the old-fashioned idea that VR would immediately become the new basis for gaming has expired - and the aspiration of development has seemingly followed it - there's still hope for the medium and its potential to build games of unfathomable proportions while bringing to life the most immersive adventures we've ever had in digital worlds.

That's where Sanzaru Games come in, with its brand-new sequel to the critically adored Asgard's Wrath, hoping to deliver on the biggest game that its hardware has ever seen. No pressure or anything.

Asgard's Wrath II is creating the VR big leagues

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Click to enlarge

For those that know all about Asgard's Wrath, you'll know what sort of game you're about to be in for with a direct sequel. For those that don't, hoo boy, are you in for a treat?

Asgard's Wrath may not have shot to the forefront of VR players' minds, won over by shorter mini-games and more recognisable adaptations of existing titles like Resident Evil 4 and Skyrim, but under the surface, it was carving out a legacy that not a single game before it has been able to.

The game is a full, unadulterated RPG, set in a medieval world of gods and deities. You take control of a Norse god yourself, work under the tutelage of Loki, and journey through the destinies of multiple mortal heroes. If its concept doesn't sell you on the game, its opening ten minutes in which you fight an actual Kraken will probably do it.

There's a fire in developers Sanzaru, and this approach to building one of the biggest experiences on VR hardware hasn't waned since they did it the first time. "From working on the world of Sly Cooper and working with Sony over the years, and all those other projects, we really see this as a medium to break," Sanzaru's Head of Design Mat Kraemer tells us.

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Click to enlarge

"I want to push the boundaries of what you can do in VR, and we don't want those little demos or short experiences when they're like three of four hours. We want to create full-on action-adventure RPG games." It would be the understatement of the century to call the sequel to what was once the biggest game that VR had seen that seeks to do exactly that all over again 'ambitious', but that's certainly what it aims to be.

According to Kraemer, Asgard's Wrath 2 has been in the works for some time. "We really started up after Asgard's one, and at that point, we had a good handle on the game structure and everything, and our high design pillars of exactly what we wanted to hit."

The first title was impressive in itself, with only a few caveats, including a combat system that many deemed slow and meandering. Asgard's Wrath 2 intends to build in every manner, and that includes the baseline mechanics of action: "We really went heavy on accessibility and all the gear that you have and how you're going to use all this gear.

"What's new with this game [is] we have multiple ways to attack each target. It's not just 'block, parry, block, parry,' to chip away the Runic Armour." Sanzaru has had its ear to the ground, and it seems as though this new title is going to double down on its blistering ambition.

Asgard's Wrath 2 is going bigger, better, and badder

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Click to enlarge

Following on from the betrayal and backstabs of the first game's finale, Asgard's Wrath 2 starts with you trapped in a prison, disguised as a tavern, with vengeance in your heart and the motivation to give Loki the hell he intends to wreak on the rest of the world.

Your introduction opens the world to you, and you are ushered into a brand-new location for the series - Ancient Egypt. "Ancient Egyptian lore has so many awesome creatures and gods and monsters to play around with, and I love the whole tomb robbing and architecture and everything, it's so awesome," Kraemer tells us.

"[But] it's not all deserts and tombs and pyramids and stuff. We've got a lot of places that you're gonna travel to that are going to be very contrasting and they're going to feel very different than the nomenclature of what you know Egypt as."

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Click to enlarge

Growth has clearly been a goal from the start of Asgard's Wrath 2's development, what with the map being so huge and ripe for exploration, the game has had to introduce a mount mechanic to give you a faster means of traversal. This means that players could be more intensely prone to motion sickness, as is common in VR gameplay.

Thankfully, Sanzaru seems to have thought of everything and manages these barriers by imagining two different kinds of players. "There's the one that's like 'Hey, I just bought a [VR] headset for the first time, this is the first game I'm ever gonna play.'

"I'm consciously thinking about that player all the time and I want them to have just as much as a good time as the hardcore VR guy that has been into it since the first headset, and loves all of the crazy physics and doesn't need any locomotion or smooth moving or any of that."

Movement for the game always seems to have two different options for all sorts of players, new or accustomed to VR, and that seems primarily to be because Sanzaru doesn't want this to just be some VR game. The team wants it to be an RPG for the ages.

Asgard's Wrath 2 wants to be the next phenomenon

Devs discuss how Norse RPG Asgard's Wrath 2 may be the biggest VR game ever made
Click to enlarge

"This is just the beginning," Mat says as we end our conversation. "Oh, god. There's gonna be stuff I'm not talking about right now that you're gonna see later and go, 'Oh my god, why didn't Mat tell me about this?'"

It's this attitude that seems to power Sanzaru - delighted worship of the work that the team has put into the new Meta title, and that has full, unbridled faith that if the audience gives it a chance, it could become the next big thing.

After all, we haven't had an earth-shattering VR experience since Half-Life Alyx, and there's more than enough room in the community for a full RPG that could turn the expectations of even the most hardcore gamers upside down.

The dramatics of the game sell it entirely, and with so much to explore and secrets to discover throughout each of its facets of Norse mythology and Ancient Egypt, it's safe to say that if Asgard's Wrath 2's promises are met, we could be about to see the hierarchy of popularity tip into Sanzaru's field. And they're ready for it.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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