Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner MARS – E3 2018 Hands-on VR Preview

Niche Gamer Plays is an ongoing video preview series where our staff take an in-depth and yet concise look at classic, current, and upcoming games across all current gaming platforms.

Originally launched back in 2003 and then again as part of the Zone of the Enders HD Collection, Zone of the Enders is receiving yet another remaster and port later this year for PS4, PSVR and PC. We finally had a chance to get a hands on demo of the game at this years E3.

I was able to demo a single stage for the upcoming release of ZoE2 VR on the PS4 earlier today with Konami. Played in full VR, the game looks absolutely stunning. Yes, the game has received an HD remaster in the past, but this rendition of the game pushes the game to 4K resolution.

I spoke with one of the Konami developer who explained that while it was mostly an HD and 4K remaster of the original game, they did have to go in and redo some of the assets and controls, mostly in order to make the VR look and play better.

And this game is an absolute blast in VR. You still have full control of Jehuty in VR, flying around, ascending and descending as you see fit, but with the VR headset, you’re now able to look around the battlefield easily and feel as if you’re right inside the cockpit of a giant fighting robot.

The controls are extremely simple and easy to use, even in VR. You will be using the homing lasers just as much in VR as out, but in VR mode, the homing laser really helps to eliminate a lot of the extra visuals that will be bombarding you as you try to figure out where everything is and where your next objective is.

Even melee combat in ZoE2 VR didn’t elicit feelings of disorientation or motion sickness, as I was half expecting it to do. But no, melee combat is just as natural as any other combat mode while in VR.

There is a very intuitive target lock on system that will help guide you to the nearest enemy and keep you aligned so that you don’t go off the reservation trying to find the next enemy you need while they’re taking pot shots you from behind.

One of the coolest aspects of the VR mode for ZoE2 was all the little details found inside the cock pit if you just looked about for a moment. If you look down, you will see the main characters body right below you, leading up to where your neck is.

Off to the right side, you will see a smaller Jehuty model that mimics what you are doing in terms of combat, be it melee, ranged, blocking or dashing, as well as an indicator on which direction you should be heading in.

Movement wise, Konami did a really good job with ZoE2 VR in regards to movement. While you are free to turn it off, the game will kind of auto lead you to the next objective as long as it is in front of you in your field of view.

Once you pass through the “objective gateway”, you will just continue on to the next one till the next encounter or scene starts. It may sound a bit hand holdy, but it actually helps out a lot and again, prevents a lot of disorientation that could possibly come along with a VR title such as this one.

I wasn’t able to try out the game in regular mode, but if it is half as fun as it is in VR, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is going to be a blast to play through again later on this year.

Be sure to check out our review of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner later on this year closer to release date.

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner MARS will launch for PlayStation 4 and Windows PC (via Steam) on September 4th in the Americas and on September 6th in Europe and Japan.

Caitlin Harper

About

Born in the south but raised in military bases around the world, Caitlin has been gaming since her father first brought home an NES with Super Mario Bros. and Zelda 2. She's also a lover of all things anime, oppai and adventure.