I enjoyed playing Defend It! AR and I think that Defend It! AR is the first AR game that really impressed me with the way it made use of ARKit 1.5’s vertical surface detection.
In AR, the virtual overlays the real world view. In some games, the virtual elements appeared like they are way out the gameplay area, especially when I played near walls. The main reason for it is that until ARKit 1.5, there was no way to actually detect a vertical surface, thus limiting the gameplay area. Even with vertical surface detection feature, limiting the gameplay area of plane surface detection based games is still not that comfortable, because the game needs to detect the vertical plane prior to starting the game.
I’m actually waiting to see if developers will make use of that feature to enhance standard plane surface based games.
I also tried different apps that used this feature, but most of them weren’t overwhelmy exciting. It was nice to discover this new feature, but the app themselves didn’t really impress me.
Then comes a game like Defend It! AR that made something different. I was excited when I first saw the wall in front of me get cracked and seeing robots coming out of it. I was even more excited seeing that the inner cave inside the wall was actually a 3D scene, so changing angles and getting closer had an immediate look and feel of a real hope in the wall.
In fact, the hole in the wall act more like an AR virtual portal that I’ve seen in other games, but this time it was anchored to a specific area on a vertical wall. The beveled edges of the cracking made the effect look real and convincing. The 3D scene’s perspective changes as the user move in the real world. It was actually a fantastic spin over the popular see-through virtual portals that I’ve used seeing in quite a few AR games.
Obviously here there wasn’t a place for entering the portal unless you want to bang your head against the wall. Yet, it created a beautiful sense of depth which made the game seems to take place also outside the boundaries of the room that I was playing at.
As simple as the effect was, it really impressed me. It was more exciting seeing those robots coming out of the wall than seeing them just spawning from thin air.
I can definitely see ways to improve the gameplay experience. For example, add an option to shoot some wall parts down, add some shooting burn and holes effect, make enemies climbing on the wall, etc. Maybe some of these features are included, but I haven’t reached any point where those indeed appear.
It’s also worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time I was this particular effect in a game. I think the first time was when I’ve played the puzzle AR game called AMON. I remember there was an option to grab a puzzle piece and drop it to a very deep trench inside the floor. Although that effect was impressive, the effect on me was less impactful compared to as in Defend It! AR game.
So although I was already familiar with that effect in other augmented reality games, the effect felt fresh and new when it was used on a vertical surface and used in a much more impressive way both in terms of visuals and as part of the gameplay dynamics.
The first time I’ve played it was actually just sitting on the floor and shooting the aliens from a single point. Later, I found out that some of the power-ups are unshootable from a certain location, so I had to get closer and change my angle. Furthermore, shooting the robots only after they are out of the cave made me fail. Therefore the player is encouraged to change the angle while playing in order to shoot the robots when they are inside the cave before they start getting out.
It’s only then I learned to appreciate this game’s smart design. The gameplay felt more engaging and fun thereafter.
All in all, Defend It! AR it a very good example of how to make use of a new technology to create unique gameplay experiences. I’m definitely going to keep it on my iPad and continue playing it on my free time. I hope to see more developers taking advantage of ARKit 1.5 vertical surface detection technology to bring new and exciting AR experience to mobile gamers and AR fans.
I’ve also proud to award Defend It! the Editor’s Choice Award, which is given to favorite, distinguishable and exciting AR apps and games that stand out from the rest. An app that makes good use of the AR framework features to deliver an immersive and exciting AR experience. Defend It! AR definitely made fantastic impressions and was among the first to deliver a compelling gameplay experience while making use of this new and exciting ARKit feature. I hope to see more developers do the same.