Lone Echo takes VR to a whole new level of immersion
Lone Echo does what so few other virtual-reality experiences have been able to do – it convinces you that you’re really there. Ever since my first VR experience as the pilot of a starship in Elite Dangerous, I’ve believed that space-based experiences are a perfect fit for the medium. Lone Echo only furthers that belief: Ready At Dawn’s action-packed space adventure just feels so right to play.
Set in the 23rd century aboard an orbital space research station, Lone Echo thrusts you into the body of an AI-powered robot as you assist in the menial tasks and labour associated with the station’s research. Understandably, story details were scant in the preview session I experienced, but needless to say things don’t go as planned and it’s up to you to resolve the situation.
What really makes Lone Echo stand out among other VR games out there is its intuitive use of Oculus Touch. Just as astronauts navigate in zero gravity, Lone Echo asks you to push and pull yourself around your environment. Push off a surface and you’ll keep travelling until you grab or push on another surface to stop yourself. It’s an odd experience at first, but it quickly feels natural and, once the early tutorial stages are over, you’ll be gliding through zero-G with wild abandon.
For situations where gliding could be a little risky, such as in the vastness of space, Ready At Dawn has equipped you with hand-mounted thrusters. Used in short bursts, they allow for fine flying control, with navigation mapped to your hand position with Oculus Touch rather than to the Touch’s thumbsticks. By focusing movement controls onto your hands, instead of via your thumbs and a stick, you don’t experience the nausea you’d expect to feel.
It also helps that Ready At Dawn has really made Lone Echo’s visuals pop. As a game primarily based in space, this is beautiful to look at – even through the lens of a VR headset. Utilising an improved iteration of Ready At Dawn’s custom RAD Engine – as seen in the stunningly beautiful The Order 1886 on PS4 – surfaces look tactile and the way light bounces around helps create an immersive world to explore.
Those looking for something more than simply an action game in space – especially if Adr1ft wasn’t your thing – Ready At Dawn’s Ru Weerasuriya revealed it will be shipping with a competitive, arena-based multiplayer mode too. Utilising all of the same physics-based properties found in the single-player campaign, players can piggyback off others to gain increasing levels of momentum – perfect for those speeding to the centre of a map in tense Capture The Flag matches.
It may well still be a while off release, but just as Epic Games’ Robo Recall is an excellent introduction to Oculus Touch, Lone Echo looks to be a strong reason to invest in the future of Oculus’ motion controllers.