Vigor is a multiplayer looter-shooter from Bohemia Interactive. You may know Bohemia from the ultra-realistic ARMA series or, perhaps more relevantly, DayZ. Vigor is a bit like DayZ, except it doesn’t feature zombies, walkers, or any other flavour of the undead. Instead, it’s you versus other humans as you scavenge for resources in a post-apocalyptic Norway.
Rather than taking place on a giant map packed with a hundred or so players, Vigor has smaller maps with 8-16 players fighting amongst themselves for a share of a more limited loot pool. It’s a less interesting loot pool, as where other, comparable games might have you picking up tricked out guns with all kinds of randomised attachments, you turn up to the area with your own weaponry and ammunition rather than scavenge for it when you arrive. When you do find a gun you’ll likely need to swap it with one of the ones you brought with you, leaving it behind forever. The focus here is more on things like wood, glass, and nails so you can upgrade your base, then escaping before a radiation cloud blankets the area.
The base building aspect is easily the worst part of the game. After a brief tutorial at the very start of the game, you’re taken to your base so you can have a look around. It’s a dilapidated house on a mountain, curiously still decorated with Christmas lights at the end of January, and it seems to be there entirely to stretch as little content as possible over as much time as it can.
There’s a host of upgrades to choose from, but they’re only available once your shelter has reached the required level. You’ll start out with a crafting table so you can craft guns and ammo, at which point your shelter will level up and allow you build the “wood log” upgrade, which passively generates 24 wood every hour. Then you can build the water distillation upgrade, which speeds up crafting time.
Yes, it takes time to craft and build things as well. On top of that wrinkle, all of the upgrades are absolute nonsense – I can’t remember what I made the “wood log” upgrade out of originally, but the first upgrade allows me to raise how much wood it generates per hour to 30 for the cost of 348 nails. How, exactly? The third level of the crafting table requires 258 metal parts and nothing else. None of it makes any sense. On the subject of upgrading the features in your base, most of them have 13 levels to work your way through, each one giving a similarly marginal increase, taking time to be built, and demanding large amounts of nonsensical and dull loot.
Let’s look at the rat trap – just humour me for a minute. The rat trap generates two food per hour by capturing delicious rats. It’s built entirely out of wires somehow, despite the photo next to the upgrade having a tin in it, and it takes 10 minutes to build it once you reach shelter level four. There are 13 levels to upgrade it through and until it hits level 10 each level increases how much food you gain by either 0.3 or 0.4 food per hour. The last three levels increase it by one up to a maximum of eight food per hour. Then, there are three more identical rat traps unlocked at levels eight, 10, and 12. This is not fun. It’s a treadmill set to the slowest setting to ensure you’re using it for as long as possible. There are nineteen base upgrades not including the rat traps and they’re all the same but for slightly different benefits.
It could be possible to enjoy playing in spite of this, but unfortunately, the rest of the game is a bit hit and miss to say the least. The maps, whilst much smaller than a Battle Royale, are still big enough that the relatively meagre amount of players in each game often results in encountering nobody for multiple games in a row, even when going for things like safes and the airdrop that shows up on the map. Then there’s what happens when you do meet someone. Whether you’re sniped before you even see anyone by someone who brought a gun that’s just flat out better than anything you had available, or you bump into someone who doesn’t actually have a gun with them, both situations are annoying for very different reasons.
On top of all this, while the game looks serviceable most of the time, it dips into ugliness with the overuse of bland textures, and even the snow-covered nordic mountains in the background manage to look blurry and washed out, further ruining any potential for an engrossing atmosphere.