Skydance’s Behemoth Preview – Titanic combat that’s a great reason to play VR again

Behemoth VR header

Coming off the backs of their two excellent The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners games, expectations are naturally very high for Skydance’s Behemoth. Though it was quickly overshadowed by Half-Life: Alyx, Saints & Sinners was an outstanding example of what virtual reality could do, with open areas to explore, tons of interactivity, and increasingly desperate combat against growing hordes of zombies. The new and original setting of Skydance’s Behemoth comes with a wholly different tone, but it could be another defining, must-play VR experience across all the major platforms.

Players will take on the role of a diseased wanderer lost in the frigid Forsaken Lands, filled with ruins and dominated by the towering creatures that give the game its name. The elevator pitch naturally gives plenty of Shadow of the Colossus vibes, but the pacing and the actual experience here will be completely different to the PS2 classic.

The combat is at the core of this experience, leaning even further into the melee-heavy nature of Saints & Sinners. It’s immensely satisfying going toe-to-toe with the human foes who stand against you, with the need for a somewhat cautious approach to blocking incoming attacks – either with a shield by holding your blade perpendicular to the incoming attack – before striking back. Time it right and you can push back at an incoming strike, staggering your enemy and opening them up to your own swipe or stab. Single-handed short swords will be a go-to for many, and you have a magic sword that will always return to your inventory slot if you walk away too far. The rest of the time you’ll be scavenging two-handed broadswords, axes, wooden shields and everything else from the environment or fallen enemies. There’s also bows and arrows if you want to try and snipe at enemies, though I struggled to get my aim quite right.

Behemoth VR melee combat

One thing that I was particularly happy to see was that two-handed weapons don’t wave around uncontrollably when held single-handed. You do need two hands in order to actually use them, but you don’t have the visual disconnect between your own steady hand and some heavy weapon wobbling around in front of you.

As is so often the case with virtual reality games, you start to play with the possibilities and see how far you can push the game’s ideas and physical limits. Yes, you can absolutely throw weapons at enemies, grab them and then stab them brutally, even grab arrows out of the sky and then fire them back! Of course, some enemies will be more heavily armoured and need more hits to bash through their helmet, or there’ll be a tougher mid-boss, fully armoured that you’ll have to whittle away at. Some even have the ability to shrug off a certain amount of damage – I mean, I literally had a thrown axe stuck into one boss human’s face, and he kept coming at me!

You’re not just a regular guy either, though. Sure, this horrible disease is very visible across your skin, but you also have a superhuman strength, which allows you to fling enemies around, smash through weakened walls, pull down bridges, and more. It goes hand-in-hand with the grappling hook that is your means to reach more distant parts of the world, the wrist-mounted gadget able to hook onto elements wrapped in yellow rope and pull you up, let you down gently, or pull things towards you with a two-handed yank.

Behemoth VR grappling hook

It’s all a nice and satisfying blend of realistic and intuitive elements and video game-y elements that just make sense and will feel familiar. it’s all brought together in an almost effortlessly slick fashion.

The world will also invite a natural curiosity and exploration. Without the day-to-day theming of Saints & Sinners, or the sandbox locations to explore, it can be more tightly constructed by Skydance. That’s not to say that it will be a totally linear journey, as while my demo was limited to a single path, there were several off-shoots and areas that were blocked off at this time – an imposing looking tower, for example, which would be optional to explore.

Seal Behemoth

Of course, the thing that will lure most people into this game are the Behemoths. Our demo concluded with a fight against the Seal Behemoth, a creature so large that it has a snowy peak on its back with what look like tufts of grass growing on it – admittedly, this could be hair. It’s also so large that the ball and chain it flings around is around the size of a house.

Fighting this massive creature gave a glimpse into how Skydance has taken inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus and other traditional games featuring gigantic boss battles. You can’t just get up close and stab its ankles, which probably wouldn’t feel that great as a tactic in VR, and must instead hunt out the weak spots and put to use everything you know how to do up to this point. You’ll also be biding your time, avoiding its sweeping ball attacks and floor stomps until you can hit those weak spots, climbing up craggy sections of its hide to strike those higher off the floor. Oh, and dealing with a few human enemies at the time as well.

Playing Behemoth demo in PSVR 2

It’s a satisfying battle that I greatly enjoyed – especially with the way you finish it off – and my time as a whole was a great introduction to what this game is about. Whether your VR headset sees regular use or has been gathering dust in recent months, Skydance’s Behemoth is shaping up to be a great reason to pop it on and fight through its blend of human-sized and gigantic enemies.

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1 Comment

  1. Just got a PSVR 2 in the Days of Play sale. There aren’t a lot of upcoming games I have my eye on, but this is one of them.

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