In this review, we are going to take a close look at an ARKit first-person shooter game called W.AR. W.AR (stands for Walkers Augmented Reality) isn’t an ordinary Augmented Reality game. In fact, it’s completely different than any other game that I’ve played before and you’ll soon understand what exactly.
What is W.AR and What Makes it so Unique?
W.AR is an ARKit first-person shooter (FPS) in Augmented Reality. In this game, the players need to survive endless waves of zombie attacks. The player needs to locate weapons scattered around the garden and use them to kill the zombies. The gameplay will remind some of you the game Left4Dead or the Zombie mode in Call of Duty.
Before we move on talking more about this game, and I have a lot to share with you, let’s take a look at some gameplay footage.
The developer bought the classic realistic FPS gameplay to AR. OK, I know, there are many other AR FPS games out there, so you might ask, what makes W.AR so unique?
Well, this game was designed from the ground up for outdoor gameplay. The game spawns a life-size gaming map onto the real world. I didn’t count steps, but I get this map is like 30 by 30 meters (98.5 by 98.5 ft) in size, no kidding, it’s a very large map.
It kind of funny because I first tried playing it inside my apartment. I laughed at myself a few seconds later by just even thinking of trying it. The second time I went downstairs to the street trying to see if it I can play it there, but nope, I need much more space.
After that, I took a ride to the nearby park. This is the only place I could actually play this game as the developer intended it to be played. W.AR requires constant movement. Once those zombies start attacking, they come from all angles. The longer you survive, the higher their numbers become. You can’t just stand in place and think you can take them all down, you just can’t, you need to run from them. I’ve found out that even the size of the virtual base area isn’t enough, you need some extra space to run away from the zombies. I was going like even 20 meters outside of the base area in order to avoid getting hit by the zombies. I did like a long circular turn and then got back to the base to pick up another weapon.
W.AR gives you three weapons to shoot with, an assault rifle, a grenade, and a pistol. In the game’s screenshot on iTunes, I saw a pump-action shotgun but I wasn’t able to find it so there might be more weapons. Furthermore, I saw a video where the player picks up a grenade from the floor, I didn’t find one either so maybe I just missed it.
Update: after checking the gameplay video, I clearly see that there were grenades on the floor but I didn’t pay attention to them while playing.
The game remembers your highest score and you can view the highscore leaderboard and see how long you played and what’s the highest score you achieved and that particular match.
A Full-scale Battlefield Map in AR
W.AR puts you in a battle zone. Once the game starts you hear an alarm and then you need to get ready to shoot some zombies. The map includes several sheds, fences and a guard tower. There are also some virtual trees and other objects around the scene.
It’s amazing that such a simple map design looks so amazing when you spawn in in the real world. Suddenly the park really looked like a protects based. The trees and the fence help to create that closed base area and make the scene look extremely realistic.
It’s the first time I’ve experienced an AR game on such a large scale. Obviously, this game isn’t for everyone because to enjoy playing it, you really need to play in a very large open space. Now how many of you would go to the park just to be able to play again, not many of you I suppose. Of course, if you are already there you can give it a try. Don’t get me wrong, you can still play it even a small place, but you probably won’t be able to move to reach the table where the gun is and run away from the zombies.
W.AR is probably the most realistic first-person shooter you ever played. The entire scene is the real-world scene so it can’t get more ultra-realistic than that. The added virtual objects are just for decoration, to create the feeling like you are inside a base.
Overall, the entire map looked nice in AR. Obviously, this is not a very practical setting for an AR game, at least not if you want to reach a broad audience. If I wasn’t reviewing this game, I would probably wouldn’t have played it at all, unless I am already in a park with friends and want to try it out.
I have to admit, the gameplay was fun. The problem is that although you can see the real world on the screen, it’s not that safe to play in a large area because you can’t see what happens underneath near you fit. I certainly wouldn’t recommend running while playing this game. If you do play this game, it’s better to play it in a large open area far away from roads, obstacles, people, etc.
By the way, when you launch the game, there is a link to a YouTube video. In the video’s description, there is a link to a Unity 3D tutorial for this app on udemy.com. So it seems like this game was also developed to promote that course or whatever this tutorial is.
W.AR lacks a lot of features that could have made it so much better like better visuals, a larger selection of weapons (I want to be able to shoot with rocket launcher and a machine gun!), hiding spots, ability to aim down the sight, a better grenade throwing animation, weapon reload option, more subtle incremental difficulty (in just two minutes you find yourself dealing with hundreds or zombies), different maps to explore, a progression system, a larger variety of zombies, better-looking zombie 3D modes, etc.
That being said, I think this is the first iOS AR game that I’ve seen that dares to try out this large-scale Augmented Reality experience. The FPS genre is an excellent choice and the gameplay experience was intensive, engaging and most importantly fun. It doesn’t mean that I will go to the park playing this game every day, of course not. However, W.AR is a good demonstration of how a large-scale battlefield game looks and plays in Augmented Reality (AR). I still think that there should be an option to select the size of the map so people can play this game in smaller areas and add a separated highscore leaderboard for each one.
I have no doubt that this game could have been much more engaging with AR glasses and a dedicated gun accessory, even better as a co-op game. I’m sure that this game will inspire other developers to develop large-scale ARKit games.
I’ve played quite a lot of zombie shooters last month, including Dead Lands AR zombies, Zombies! ARgh!, Angry Zombies, Zombie gunship Revenant AR and ARZombi. When I played ARZombi and Dead Lands AR Zombie, I did feel that those shooters are meant to be played in a large space. I really didn’t enjoy playing them in a tight space. So if you are already developed a game that requires a large space, why not go all-in, and that’s what the developer of W.AR Augmented Reality did. I didn’t like seeing zombie spawning in the air. The reason for that because ARKit doesn’t recognize vertical surfaces and therefore it cannot limit the gameplay area to the inner boundaries of the game. This made the game looks funny. The same goes for W.AR, but because I played it in the park, I didn’t experience any of this “floating” appearance of the virtual 3D models.
Overall, a really fun experience, especially when you experience a game like this in AR for the first time.
Graphics & Sound Effects
The graphics quality is not impressive at all. However, because you are usually located far from the 3D objects, you don’t really notice the low-poly model and the low-res textures. The trees are far away and blend in nicely with the environment, regardless of the low graphics quality. I didn’t even pay attention to the graphics quality of the trees, only when I came home and view the screenshot.
Same goes for the zombie characters, they just look very blend, grayish and you can easily see the low texture quality when they are very close to you.
The visual effects are nice though, not spectacular but OK. I especially liked the shooting and the explosion visual effects. Same goes for the sound effects, they are pretty good and make the shooting experience feel quite authentic.
There is certainly a large room for improvements in both the visual and sound departments. I think that the developer kept the visual quality low so that the game can run in acceptable frame rates as more zombies spawn in. You can check out the gameplay video yourself. You can see that after a few minutes, there are already hundreds of zombies on the screen. I think that higher quality 3D models could have lead to significant drop in frame rates.
I’ve noticed that the 3D models do have shadows and this made the experience more authentic. In fact, I played in an open area without trees close by, but when you look at the floor you can see lots of shadows. Those are the shadows from the virtual trees. I actually felt like I am in a shady area and this help to produce a better sense of authenticity of to the virtual scene.
Before we ramp things up. I want to add this game is not optimized for the iPad and you get a black frame when you play it. Furthermore, the game had a bug that when you pick up the same gun the second time after your magazine is empty you cannot shoot with it. I hope this will be addressed in a future update.
W.AR is a great example of how a realistic, large-scale, room-scale experience in AR looks and plays like. I see very few users playing a game like this because of the large gameplay area requirement. The game’s map is not resizeable either.
The Shooting experience was fun and intensive. However, the gameplay area requirement just makes this game impractical for many users.
The gameplay is still fun and addictive. I think it’s the first time that I actually felt like how amazing it will be if I could play and ARKit game with AR glasses.
I do recommend downloading this game and trying it out. I personally wouldn’t go to the park especially to play this game, but if I am already in a large open area, I would definitely try playing it again and see if I can beat my own previous highscore.
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