It’s always fantastic to see a development team that wants to push the boundaries of what has been done before. In the case of DevClever, not only are they taking their first steps into game development, they’re looking to create one of the most ambitious cross-platform titles we’ve seen. Vanguard: Fight for Rudiarius is a competitive space shooter that draws from the same well as EVE: Valkyrie or Starlancer, but crucially you can play it on mobile, VR and PC. The most impressive thing? It works.
Set in an alternate future where the Roman Empire didn’t crumble into disarray, Vanguard’s space battles are the imagined setting for gladiatorial combat, with combatants fighting for their freedom by trying to blast each other apart amongst the stars. The pilot designs are heavily influenced by the look of classic gladiator garb, and it really lends the game a unique look that hasn’t been explored elsewhere.
Things get really interesting when the developers ask what platform we wanted to play on first. They’re keen to explain that you get the same game experience no matter what you’re playing on, though each platform has its own benefits, whether that’s a slightly more generous lock-on if you’re playing on mobile or the increased vision and sharper controls of playing on PC. Balancing the game is potentially going to be the toughest challenge, even more than the technology underpinning it, but DevClever are clearly confident that they’re ready for it.
Opting for mobile first, the immediate impression is that they’ve captured the right feel for space combat, with a great sense of inertia and weight. Despite mobile platforms being less powerful, everything looks nice and solid, and the arena’s centre occupied by a slowly spinning space station gives players plenty of cover to manoeuvre around. It’s not long before you find yourself engaged in combat, and with a cannon or missiles you’ve got the equipment to do so. If you’re playing on your phone you have to accommodate the lack of physical controls, but despite this, Vanguard felt tight enough to be very enjoyable.
Moving to the full PC experience is remarkable though, and the increased screen real-estate, combined with some lovely flight sim controllers sees Vanguard really take off for the stars. The mobile experience is great to take on the go with you, and I can see committed players hopping into combat throughout the day with it, but you’ll likely be pining to get home to truly work on gaining your gladiator’s freedom.
That said, jumping across to mobile VR is when the game really comes into its own. Using a diminutive physical controller for motion while targeting by line of sight works incredibly well, and I was immediately immersed in trying to blow everyone else to smithereens. It feels as though Vanguard is going to be most at home here or on PC, but with the option of playing on your mobile as a worthy back-up.
The infrastructure to keep everything working is mind-bogglingly complex, but DevClever’s experienced dev team seem to have it all in hand. During our playtest which saw people hopping in across mobile, PC and VR, everything held together exceptionally well, especially considering we were in a WiFi-packed exhibition hall. The game is going into an extended period of beta testing to make sure it’s all as completely consistent as those demanding gamers expect, but the early signs are good.
Vanguard: Fight For Rudiarius is a deeply impressive multiplayer space shooter experience that you’re going to want to take on the go with you, before settling down at home for even more. With the promise of meaningful progression systems and customisation there’s hopefully going to be plenty to keep players coming back, making Vanguard well worth checking out in 2019.