Spatial Ops from Resolution Games was a completely new mixed-reality experience for me. I don’t have a lot of space in my apartment for AR games, and VR headsets tend to tighten around my glasses awkwardly. And after about an hour of playing almost any VR game, I get a queasy, dizzying bout of motion sickness that forces me to sit down (and play something else). Fortunately, the GDC 2023 demo for Spatial Ops on the show floor had plenty of room to maneuver around, and while the Meta Quest 2 headset was a little loose over my glasses, I didn’t experience any disorienting side effects after my thirty-minute session.
One-time special ops
Resolution Games, which you may recognize for creating the cooperative adventure Demeo for PS5 and PSVR 2, first wanted to clarify that the demo I saw was a version of Spatial Ops specially made for the event. Available in open beta now on Sidequest, the game is a competitive multiplayer shooter that supports up to eight players. If that sounds ambitious, it very much is. Designed for a space that can be up to 20 by 40 feet, Spatial Ops uses passthrough technology to turn a real-world space into a PvP-ready map with barriers that players can duck behind. Players can pick up new weapons and items simply by snatching them with a controller as they hover in mid-air.
The trouble, though, is that the game requires not only a lot of room, but a headset and a a pair of controllers for each player. That’s not exactly feasible given the limited space on the show floor, so they decided instead to showcase a room-space solo mode that is set up against a wall that acts like a window or portal to an area with AI bots. In addition to the headset, I gripped two Meta Quest Pro Controllers, each with a trigger button, in my hands so that I could handle both one-handed and two-headed weapons depending on what I chose to pick up.
Spatial awareness test
The demo was effectively a training simulation, not far from a fun shooting gallery with moving targets. Soldier bots would spawn from all areas of the map, and I had to peer left and right to make sure that I could cover the entire field of view. Each round introduced a new weapon, though the pistol became the easiest to understand. All it took to reload the handgun was to flick my right hand to the side. While the shotgun and sniper rifle packed more power, particularly the shotgun for when I was facing enemies with riot shields, trying to reload them didn’t come as naturally to me. I was more confident using the handgun with my right hand and then occasionally gripping a health canister or grenade with my left.
After just a few attempts, I was able to get close to the final level, partly by putting myself behind some wooden crates for cover, before being swarmed by the bots. If I had more time with the demo, I would have darted around the area a bit more and concentrated more on lining up shots to the body instead of the head. For a prototype, this solo mode showcased the technology of the main game well. It essentially reminded me of a more interactive and engrossing version of the classic Police Trainer arcade game.
The early-access open beta for Spatial Ops is available as a free download on Sidequest. It currently supports the Quest 2 and Quest Pro VR headsets. Resolution Games recommends that players use the headset’s Guardian system to create custom play spaces by mapping real-world objects, but it is possible to work without it.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo provided by the publisher on the show floor of GDC 2023.
Nick Tan posted a new article, Spatial Ops mixes VR with AR in a forward-thinking first-person shooter