Solaris: Offworld Combat is the next multiplayer shooter from First Contact Entertainment and we got the chance to go hands-on with it for the very first time last week. During my session I played the game on both Rift S and Quest and came away excited to see more!
From the very first moments of gameplay, it’s obvious that Solaris takes heavy inspiration from the likes of Quake, Unreal, and other classic arena shooters. Here is a video version of this article showing a bunch of gameplay clips:
5 Ways Solaris Channels Quake And Unreal For Old-School Shooter Fun
In Solaris you’re a cyber athlete from the future that battles it out against others on virtual battlegrounds. It’s a pretty meta premise that’s a bit like VR-within-VR and the presentation absolutely nails it. What this means functionally is that you spend very little time standing around waiting. Load times are incredibly quick, you move around maps at a quick pace, and can even slide across the ground for an evasive speed boost.
Just like in Quake and Unreal, it pays to stay on the move. Standing still is a great way to get shot so you’ll want to learn maps fast so you know the best cover points and hallways to sprint down while getting the drop on an enemy.
No Reloading Necessary
Solaris doesn’t have a reload button. I know, that seems weird. With the popularity of modern military shooters and the “realism” VR affords in games like Onward, it’s a bit odd to think that you won’t need to actually reload your gun at all. But in the future cyberscape of Solaris, where they’re going they don’t need reload buttons.
And if you played old-school games like Doom, Quake, and Unreal, then you’d know those don’t have reload buttons either. All reloading does is slow you down and Solaris is all about the speed of immediacy of combat.
Walk-Over Item Pick-Ups
Speaking of the immediacy of combat, in Solaris you don’t need to manage an inventory, manually pick up weapons, or switch weapons at all. You run full-speed over item spawn points and you just automatically pick them up. Everyone begins each match with their standard semi-auto pistol and within each map you can find a rocket launcher, grenade launcher, and assault rifle weapons, in addition to a deployable shield cover and proximity mine. Shield and health power-ups round out the offering.
In some older shooters you could cycle between various weapons, but you don’t do that in Solaris. Instead, whatever improved gun you find is your default weapon for a short time until you’ve used it up, then it just auto-switches back to your pistol. You need to take advantage of increased firepower when you’ve found it.
This one I expect to be a bit divisive, because in some ways it smacks of the taste of dumbing things down, but I don’t think streamlining necessarily means dumbing down. From what I’ve played Solaris is still an immensely fun, challenging, and deep shooter with a lot of nuance, but it sidesteps pain points that don’t translate smoothly to VR by simplifying things that get in the way of just having fun.
Teamwork Is Key
Since Solaris only has one game mode that’s basically like King of the Hill, called Control Point, it encourages teamwork above going rogue as a solo player. Technically you can still get XP and rank up to unlock new cosmetics even if your team doesn’t win, but being on the winning team nets you a big XP bonus so it’s worth playing cohesively.
Solaris has in-game voice chat, but unfortunately it won’t have a party system or friend invite system at launch. At launch it’s only going to be “Pre-Season” and then the standard Season of rankings will begin shortly after. It’s my understanding that as new Seasons begin, new cosmetics will roll out, and likely other changes like new weapons and maps too.
And yes — all maps and weapons that are added will be included for free.
Easy To Learn, Difficult To Master
Solaris is the kind of game you can quickly hop in and play with little to no fuss (assuming at least seven other people across PC and Quest have the same idea) and it’s a lot of fun. However, there is still depth here. Learning the maps, working with your team, getting the hang of shooting each gun, and developing strategies takes time and means that the entry level for playing is quite low but the skill ceiling for being really, really good is very high.
Similar to games like Quake and Unreal, virtually anyone can play those games. They’re pretty dead simple. But if you watch pro-tier players it looks almost like they’re playing a different game altogether due to how fluidly they move. Solaris has that same flexibility.
Solaris: Offworld Combat Additional Details
This article was called 5 ways Solaris is like Unreal or Quake, but there are actually a bunch of other things I want to talk about. Thus, you get a small brain dump at the end here:
If you played Firewall Zero Hour you might remember in that game that you not only unlocked new things like guns, equipment, and skins by ranking up your level, but also by spending the in-game currency that you either earned slowly by playing or by spending real money to buy it. Solaris is rank-based progression only and all weapons are just map-based pickups.
From what I’ve seen there aren’t many cosmetics yet, but thankfully the outfit models like the shape of the helmet and style of your armor are separate from the color skin that’s applied, so you can mix and match pretty freely. It just takes a while to unlock anything, so hopefully they add a lot more.
Dedicated Servers, Fast Load Times
Another thing to mention as a key point is that Solaris is launching with dedicated servers rather than peer-to-peer and load times are really, really quick.
No Party System
I mentioned this already, but just to emphasize: you cannot join up with a friend, make a party, or invite anyone to a game — yet. That is coming as the first major update, but for pre-season it’s not in yet.
No Bots, No Solo Play
When I pressed the developers for an answer here they basically just said, “We never say never,” but at this time there are no plans for anything other than strictly 4v4. That means if only seven people are online, you can’t play. There is no training mode, no bots to fight against, and no solo options at all. Hopefully they reconsider and add something, even if it’s just an option to have bots fill empty slots and balance teams.
No Map Selection Or Lobby System
The main menu has a play button or you can put the helmet on — those are your options for joining a match. Behind the scenes the game then slots you into a match and starts the game. There is no map selection, it’s just always random, and you can’t tweak options or anything yet. I’m under the impression that private lobbies with settings to tweak and filters to set are coming, but aren’t there yet.
Sorry, no jump button. However — you can slide! And that’s pretty fun.
Solaris: Offworld Combat releases on September 24th for Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift with crossplay and crossbuy. There are plans for a PSVR release later, but there’s no date for that yet. Keep an eye here on UploadVR and our YouTube channel for more coverage. You can also preemptively join the developer’s Discord server.
Let us know what you think of Solaris down in the comments below!