The release of the Meta Quest 3 has seen an explosion of new software arriving for the new VR headset, and prime amongst them is Asgard’s Wrath 2. Oculus Studios have once again taken on publishing duties for Sanzaru Games’s Asgardian sequel, and early adopters for the Quest 3 are getting a copy of the game alongside the unit, with Meta clearly feeling that this is the best showcase for their latest technological marvel. On first impressions alone, it seems that they’ve made a good choice.
It’s not quite Macbeth, but Asgard’s Wrath 2 starts with three witches – or Weavers as they have it – who need a guardian to protect the realm. You’re first on the list, even though you, as a fledgling god, were taken in by Loki’s tricks in the first game, and managed to release him from his spiritual prison. You’re initially still stuck in this prison – which in fairness is a tavern with magically refilling tankards so it’s not all bad – listening to the spirits of other gods having a good old moan about you.
Your incarceration doesn’t last though, with a huge raven-headed griffin dropping through the ceiling and expediting your escape, before then deciding it would rather attack you. This leads to your first taste of Asgard’s Wrath 2’s powerful combat, with a lightning-imbued sword grasped in your hand – enjoyably, you raise it in the air like you’re He-Man to charge it up – deflecting away projectiles, swinging and stabbing away at the creature’s head, and dodging out of the way of its attacks.
As the Weavers call on you to follow the threads of fate, you’re dropped into the body of different warriors as you seek out Loki and his influence throughout time. Your first possession is Abraxas, a muscular, shaven-headed brawler with a ponytail, whose saga takes you to ancient Egypt, cleverly opening up the possibilities for Asgard’s Wrath 2 for a myriad array of settings, periods and mythologies.
Does it matter if you haven’t played the first Asgard’s Wrath? No, not one bit, not least because Sanzaru have included a primer for the first game’s tale in the opening of the sequel, though if you’re a returning fan you can give it a miss. That’d be a shame though, as the vibrant visuals and excellent voiceover work make this introduction something to revel in, and, perhaps most importantly who doesn’t want to told be a story while you ride on a giant crow?
Abraxas adventure begins by collecting his main armaments – his father’s sword, and his axe. The axe here is his primary ranged weapon and there’s more than a hint of Kratos about the way you can fling it at enemies or parts of the level before calling it back with a gesture. This will not fail to bring a smile to your face each and every time you use it, and it’s only the start of his skills. Abraxas is a lively sort, with leaping, clambering and wall running the order of the day, utilising his skills to explore each area, while battering anything that stands in his way.
The team at Sanzaru have done a great job with the comfort settings, and even on the most immersive setting I haven’t felt any hint of motion sickness whether I was sitting down or standing, despite the many times Abraxas dodged or leapt about the opening areas. You can tune things up if you’re less accustomed to VR, or completely remove the UI and go for full immersion, and it’s exactly what you’d hope for in a modern VR title.
Asgard’s Wrath 2 looks phenomenal, which in some ways isn’t all that surprising when the first game looked fantastic, but in others it absolutely is when you consider that you’re now playing on a standalone headset – the original was exclusive to the PCVR Oculus Rift. Alongside Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR, this is the best showcase of just how much processing power developers have on hand in the Quest 3 – Asgard’s Wrath 2 is also available for Quest 2 and the Quest Pro – and, if anything, pips Ubisoft’s outing to the post thanks to a greater sense of grandeur, and the effectiveness of its stylised visuals.
Asgard’s Wrath 2 is set to be the biggest VR title of the year, not least in terms of scope and scale, with the developers telling us that there’s over 100 hours of content available for the completionists amongst you. While that’s an immense amount of time to wear your Quest 3 – and by my maths probably about 45-50 recharges – this is already an incredible world to escape into for any length of time, and I can’t wait to see where the mythologically-charged adventure takes me.