Shooters based around the Second World War have been done to death.
Everything from Medal of Honor to Call of Duty has explored the European theater of conflict in interesting and unique ways. While Winter Fury: The Longest Road doesn’t add much to that element of history, it is a damn fine arcade experience.
Winter Fury: The Longest Road is a mixture of a few games. It’s got on-rails shooting segments similar to Time Crisis where you sit in one spot and take out enemies as they come at you from all directions and more open tank driving segments where you operate a simplified version of an M-4 Sherman tank. An open-world survival mode, where you run around on foot, is coming later on.
“Casual players want to get into VR and have a really good experience. The on rail segments are for them. Other players want a mid-core experience and that’s what the tank segments are for,” said Spidermonk Entertainment president and Winter Fury designer Scott March. “The last mode is going to be hardcore, a survival mode. I haven’t seen a lot of games do this. It’s really three games in one. What we’re creating, they’re all very, very different.”
Winter Fury: The Longest Road is currently on Steam in Early Access for $19.99. It’s got sitting and standing modes with compatibility for the Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality. Both the tank and on-rails modes are available now.
“We have two and a half hours of gameplay with progression,” March, who wanted to make an on-rails shooter due to how sick he can get with other movement-based VR games, said. “You move forward, fight level bosses, buy items, and take locations and checkpoints. It’s kind of like House of the Dead or Time Crisis.”
I got to try out the latest build of Winter Fury: The Longest Road at PAX West, including some updates that hadn’t hit the Steam Early Access version yet. The on-rails segments are straightforward. I set up behind sandbags or under cover on top of a tank as wave after wave of foot soldiers, support trucks, cavalry units, snipers, and other types of enemies came at me. I had to rotate and use a full 360-degree field of view to prevent enemies from taking me down. It was quick, fun, and easy to pick up.
The real treat was in the tank mode, which was by far a more dynamic way to take on Nazis with a full arsenal of weapons. After starting the mode I found myself inside the claustrophobic trapping of an M-4 Sherman Tank. I had a small window sight in front of me, my tank cannon to my left with plentiful ammo below, and a number of other switches, one that let me peak out the top and another that reset my tank’s position, scattered around me.
“I want to see some actual Sherman tanks in Dallas and modified their layout for the game,” March said. “I have changed a lot, combining all the elements into one position.”
I was set loose in a snowy European village with old buildings scattered, each with enemies waiting to pop out. The goal was simple, make my way to each flag pole and capture it all while destroying anyone that got in my way. I didn’t have a steering wheel, but actual levers that controlled the tanks direction and forward movement, so navigating was a bit more challenging. After every three cannon shots I had to reload, so there were multiple elements I had to keep in mind while playing.
Each time I got to an enemy flag a new wave of enemies would appear, with opposing tanks attempting to flank me from far off. I had to pop out of my tank to get a better view of my surroundings, my entire time with Winter Fury was frantic arcade fun. I kept forgetting to reload or to recenter my tanks gun while March had to constantly remind me as enemies continued to surround me.
March also mentioned that they’d be implementing multiplayer for the tank mode, with three players in the tank handling the different jobs. Something similar to one driver, one person handling the gun, and a third handling the machine gun (who can also peak out the top). It’s unfinalized and far off, but it’s on Spidermonk’s radar.
Overall, the combination of on rail action and wildly interactive tank gameplay (alongside a very packed convention hall at PAX) made me feel like I was in a modern VR arcade playing Winter Fury. It’s a unique and engaging experience with tank controls that are unlike any other shooter that’s tried to do something similar.