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Hands-on with Radial-G Multiplayer

We check out Radial-G’s impressive multiplayer features on the Oculus Rift.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, we’re sure that you’ve heard about Radial-G. It’s a sci-fi racer that tasks players with navigating tubular tracks through the sky, all the while dodging shields, flipping upside down and skirting around splits in the course. It’s a fast-paced and totally thrilling experience on the Oculus Rift, as we discovered in our recent preview of the Steam Early Access edition.

However, there’s one area of the game that we’ve never discussed, and that’s its multiplayer features. To make up for this onerous omission, we recently we had the chance to race against the Radial-G development team alongside a handful of other VR-tech websites, and came out of the experience pumped up and excited for the games potential future. It’s even more fast-paced than the single player game, with multiple ships to avoid while navigating the twisting track over blind horizons and sharp turns.

Before each match you’ll find yourself in a virtual lobby with a list of the other gamers you’re about to race. From here you can confirm that you’re ready to go, and once everyone else has done the same the match begins. Using the Oculus Rift’s head-tracking you can peer around the virtual cockpit to see the other ships lined up alongside you, enabling you pick an opponent to chase after when the match begins; and when it does begin you’ll need to really concentrate, because there’s a lot going on around you. Get too close and you’ll smash into another racer, losing precious seconds and also depleting the shield strength around your ship; where jumps and flip-pads are located you’ll see the other racers fly and leap through the air around your cockpit, and as opponents overtake you’ll be left trailing in their glittering blue contrail. It’s fun, frantic racing at its best.

There are some clever gameplay features built in to help you race against other players. Once of them is a glowing ring that follows each ship. It wraps around the tubular track which makes it easy to spot other players — even if they’re on the opposite side of the tube. Another is the virtual cockpit display that sits underneath your field of view. Not only does it contain track and race information (such as your position and lap times), but it also indicates near-by racers with small arrows that circle a hologram of your ship.

There are four multiplayer gameplay types in the current Early Access build: the standard race, No Gates (which removes the rotating red shields from the track), Elimination (removes the player in last place every 15 seconds) and Death Race (where your ships shields don’t regenerate). Each race type has a subtle effect on the outcome and feel of a match, with our current favourite being No Gates – simply because it puts a focus on sheer speed. The current build supports up to 16 players, but the eventual game will enable 32 racers to compete at once. We found that the lower number of opponents doesn’t really affect the frantic nature of the game, especially on the shorter tracks where you’re more likely to bump into other racers.

You can check out a 10-minute gameplay video at the top of this page, which hopefully gives you an idea of the frantic and exciting multiplayer gameplay in Radial-G.  To get in on the action yourself, you can buy the game on Steam where it’s currently available for Windows PCs.

Radial-G Steam Early Access
Radial-G website
Radial-G Demo