Covert feels like a heist movie where you’re the star. The latest game from White Elk Studios, makers of the critically-acclaimed Eclipse: Edge of Light, Covert builds an immersive world of intrigue and danger where you play a high-skilled thief hunting for a mysterious artifact. And, just like the best heist movies, you get to bring a friend to help you pull off the near-impossible job. Today, we’re thrilled to announce Covert is available now for Oculus Go and Gear VR
To gather additional intel on Covert, we talked with White Elk Studios President and Creative Director Jonathan Hawkins.
Can you tell us how Covert delivers "couch co-op" gameplay and what a typical session is like?
Jonathan Hawkins: Covert delivers a very unique “couch co-op” experience as each player has completely different controls, perspectives, and goals. From a design perspective, this has been the most challenging but eye-opening game to design, as it amplifies the social bonds between two different players.
In our playtests, we have seen how the unique relationships between players come through their interactions. Two best friends, a mother and daughter, a husband and wife; Each of these pairings have their own distinct social bond. Some players talk through each problem, while others seem to just “know” what to do to help each other.
You can play on the couch through local wi-fi or across the world through the internet. We have created in-game communication tools, like the marker which allows the hacker to call out points for the thief to move to. The team can’t wait to hear stories of how people played with friends and how the game tested social bonds.
Beyond co-op gameplay, what makes Covert a unique stealth experience in VR?
JH: Covert’s asymmetrical gameplay was definitely a challenge to design and develop, but the game is also unique in other ways. In many games, you have the “comms” character who helps to lead you through missions. In Covert, this is a real person. They are able to look ahead on the map, mark points where you can hide, and solve problems with you. Trust and communication are highlighted and even tested through the different challenging scenarios you encounter.
Building upon our knowledge from Eclipse: Edge of Light, we have improved player locomotion even further. This has allowed us to open up our level design and makes it easier to run away from the guards if you’re spotted. Another unique mechanic to help you get away from guards is the “Blind” button. The Hacker can hit this button to blind guards and create a small window when they can’t see the thief, helping them get away.
Also, where Eclipse was a pretty serious game in its tone, Covert is much more lighthearted. We have funny scenarios and lines that will make you smile. For example, when you get caught, or die, a soulful 60s lounge singer comes in and comments on what happened. If you fall off the side of a building, she will sing “You just feeeeell…” and the voice slowly fades away into an echo. Makes me laugh every time.
What movies, games, or books served to inspire Covert's gameplay and world?
JH: Unlike other games I’ve worked on that were inspired by music, film or life; the inspiration for Covert came from trying to solve a problem I was personally facing with VR. You purchase this amazing piece of technology and you want to share it with friends and family. However, there wasn’t anything in the VR space that was accessible and created an interactive experience for others beyond the first player. My dream was to create something that I could play with my wife. Where we could take turns playing in and outside of VR, but still be connected.
What we have built with Oculus Studios and the White Elk team has made this dream come true. Playtesting with my wife, friends, and other colleagues I have seen everybody have a fantastic time. The hacker side uses the same controls as many mobile apps and that makes it easy for those who aren’t traditionally gamers to jump right in. For friends who have never even tried VR, it’s a great way to get them interested and you can personally guide them through the experience by playing as the hacker.
Our new dream is that everybody will be able to share the magic of VR with their friends and families over the upcoming holiday break!
— The Oculus Team