Archangel: Hellfire: Making The Mech Experience Feel Real

The development team at Skydance Studios spent hundreds of hours to make sure that piloting a mech in VR is as real as it gets.

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Skydance Studios jumped into the VR game last year with the release of Archangel for PSVR. It was the first game on the platform that gave players the chance to feel like they were piloting giant mechs. The development team spent the next year working on the foundation laid out in Archangel in an effort to build the ultimate VR mech experience. This August, the team is releasing their newest effort, Archangel: Hellfire for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.

Archangel: Hellfire builds on the first game and succeeds at putting you directly into the pilot’s seat. Skydance studios focused intensely on creating an experience that was accessible to the highest number of players. VR games that don’t account for spatial awareness can leave the end-user susceptible to nausea and discomfort if what the eyes see does not match up with their sense of balance. The team carefully crafted the mech interiors and camera system to compliment each other so that piloting the monster-sized machines feels completely natural to the VR user. A solution that allows the mech’s head to move while the player stays rooted to the seat ensured that players could enjoy the action and remain comfortable for long sessions.

Additional work went into the design of the mech interiors to help build out a sense of scale. The illusion of piloting a mech is shattered if it doesn’t feel like you are towering over your environment when you look around. Archangel: Hellfire is crafted to make the player feel like a towering giant within the game world through the use of audio and visual feedback. The interiors are also carefully constructed to feel like the real thing. The team at Skydance wanted the cockpit to have a tactile feel, which helps to further reinforce the experience.

The UI and gameplay design are also built to enhance the suspension of disbelief. UI elements are place in spots that feel intuitive and work with the cockpit model to provide the “you are there” experience. You don’t feel like you are controlling a mech, you feel like you are actually sitting in the pilot’s seat. The game’s combat also serves to enhance the experience of battling other mechs, while still offering the gameplay depth expected from modern players. Archangel: Hellfire also takes advantage of the PC platform and the visuals scale up with powerful hardware, while still allowing an incredible experience on modest systems.

Archangel: Hellfire drops you into the pilot’s seat on July 17. It is a free expansion available to all owners of Arcahngel. It requires the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headset.