E3 2018 Hands-on: Defector

If you ever watched a Mission Impossible, James Bond, or a Jason Bourne movie and thought to yourself, “I could do that”, Twisted Pixel has given you the chance to try—in VR, of course—with Defector.

In the E3 demo, you are dropped into the mix as an unidentified super spy in a bathroom. Before you can do anything, you need to locate and install your earpiece and contact lens. With those in place, you can now see objectives and mission data, and also get guidance from your support team. After leaving the bathroom you are essentially free to roam—and soon realize you are in an airplane. Unlike other VR titles, Defector is not on rails, but the story only advances when you approach or meet the next objective. So outside of the bathroom when you encounter a room of baddies, you can walk around, poke them or throw things at them, all seemingly without incident. Once you’ve had enough goofing off you realize, however, you have a mission to attend to, and the story advances when you approach the large bouncer blocking your way into the next room.

Twisted Pixel has tried to thread a difficult needle in this game. Without in-game clues (unless you are actually a super spy) it is hard to know exactly what your options are to advance the story, but too many clues and the freedom of choice is destroyed. For the most part in this 30-minute demo they seem to have hit the mark. On a few occasions, I was prompted by my real life handler to do something or look somewhere, but overall the game seemed relatively intuitive—at least after a few attempts at something.

Once beyond the door you get to interrogate the boss bad guy, shoot your way through a series of henchmen, fist fight the same doorman who blocked your way earlier, and then drive a car out of the rear of the crashing plane only to land/crash mid-air into a second plane.

The demo smartly integrates a series of tutorials within the story, allowing you to learn how to shoot or fight without breaking the immersion. Also there to help you is a scanning mode which highlights objects which have a role in the progression.

Movement is done via the Oculus Touch controllers (Defector is Oculus only at this point), which allows for seamless movement via the thumb sticks while simultaneously allowing hand motions and button presses. The controllers work exceptionally well with this title, and while it is easy to forget and drop your gun and watch it fly out the open door of the airplane, the good news is that you learn quickly and your gun seems to magically re-spawn in its holster.

While only some elements advance the story, the story itself is not linear. Obtaining certain items will grant you new actions or abilities later in the mission, interacting with people or items in certain ways will send you down one path versus another, and at some points you are presented with specific choices: jump out of the airplane with your partner, or go the other direction and find your own way out. This allows not only leads to a high replay value, but also makes your choices matter.

Defector takes the spy genre of game into VR and does an excellent job considering the newness of the genre and the hardware. For those with with an Oculus set up and an interest in the spy genre, this will be a must buy. More details of the mission can be seen at the announce trailer below. Defector will be released on Oculus sometime later this year.