Unsheathe your sword and get ready to slice and dice with Blade & Sorcery: Nomad from Warpfrog, out now on Quest 2 for $19.99 USD. This separate, standalone version of the beloved medieval sandbox combat game packs four huge arena maps, an all-new procedurally generated Dungeon mode, and more thrilling fantasy combat than you can shake an axe at.
Hopefully you’ve been resting up as well, because Blade & Sorcery: Nomad is the type of VR game that really gets you moving. Taking full advantage of the Quest 2’s wireless roomscale tracking, you’ll be on your feet dodging enemies left and right while you parry and slash your way to victory in the midst of bloody physics-based battles.
To get a better idea of what’s in store for players, we spoke with Warpfrog Producer and Blade & Sorcery Community Manager, The Baron:
Blade & Sorcery is well-known as having one of the most intricate physics-based combat systems in VR. Why is that so crucial to the game's design? What about it do fans love so much?
The Baron: A big component of Blade & Sorcery, and something that might be tricky for people to wrap their head around at first, is that primarily it is a simulation and secondary a game. This seems like a strange concept at first, but to us simulation and presence is what is so exciting about VR in the first place!
Where I think physics comes into the fun for players is that this ties into that simulation factor. As best we could, Blade & Sorcery is stripped of as many “gamey” mechanics as feasibly possible. No health bars, no stats, no artificial limiters, etc; if it feels like you should be able to do it, then our hope is that you can. We don’t tell the player how to play the game, how to fight, or how to have fun; it is completely up to them. We just provide the simulation as detailed as we can (and ever-improving!) and they decide what they want to do with it. Our philosophy is no matter what you are doing, if you are having fun then you are playing it 'right'.
At launch, the Nomad version of Blade & Sorcery will include four sandbox maps, the Home environment, and the Dungeons mode. Most fans are familiar with how the sandbox maps work, but can you talk a bit about the Dungeons mode?
TB: Yes, it’s very exciting! We are so proud of the Warpfrog team for what they have achieved with Dungeons. Not only an insane technical achievement but even conceptually I think it is brilliant.
The whole premise of adding Dungeons was to give some structured gameplay to players who crave direction and motivation, versus a full sandbox experience. When the player loads the Dungeon they will always spawn at the same starting point, but from then on, the collection of rooms that constitute the Dungeon are semi-procedurally generated from a pool of hand-crafted rooms.
Where the random part comes into it, each room that spawns is drawn from the pool of rooms we have, but within those rooms there can be one or more exits and depending on your generated seed that exit is random. This further mixes it up as it is then not only the random factor of which room spawns, but also the random factor of which exit path you need to navigate to get to the next room, and how all the rooms connect to each other. Before you begin, you can tweak the length of the Dungeon, which impacts how many rooms will be generated on your run, and you can also adjust the difficulty of enemies that will be found there. At the moment we have around 50 rooms but we plan on adding plenty more.
So in this way, it will be a linear progression through a randomly built map, with a randomly generated path to take. I should also note that I say "rooms" as a catch-all term, but “rooms” refers to any newly generated block of the dungeon, so this also includes outside areas.
Nomad will exist separately as a standalone Quest 2 version of the game, but will it continue to get updates regularly alongside the PC VR version of the game?
TB: The short answer is yes, as best we can. Unlike the PC VR version of Blade & Sorcery, Nomad is a made-for-Quest version of the game, which means it is optimized specifically for Quest 2 with regards to graphics and content to push the limits before performance becomes an issue. This is a dream scenario for Quest 2 owners who don’t own a powerful PC because they are not just getting some second-hand port of the PC VR game, but also good for PC VR players because the original game is untouched; we did not want to sacrifice the potential scope and graphics of the PC VR version by devolving the PC game to force it to fit on the Quest 2. This is ultimately a more convoluted workflow for us compared to just merging the games, but we are positive this was the right way to go.
So, while we will do everything we can to make Nomad as close to the PC VR experience as possible there may be things that are literally impossible to bring to the Quest 2 version, as we would not shackle the PC VR development just because something is too large to make it to the Quest 2.
Fortunately, most of the technical challenge about Quest 2 is done and all the remaining features that are planned for PC should work without any issue on Quest 2, as it mostly concerns player progression. So ultimately, the outlook looks great.
What are the main differences between Nomad and the main PC VR game?
TB: Currently PC VR U10 and Nomad are incredibly close in content; the team worked mega-hard on optimization to make this possible.
The big differences would be of course Nomad requires no PC to have a good experience; that’s pretty huge! Graphically, Nomad is toned down from the PC VR game, but still really good looking; we think it’s one of the best-looking Quest games available, and again the team worked super-hard on achieving that.
In terms of content comparison, Nomad has all of the PC VR content minus a small number of Dungeon rooms that were just too large to generate on the Quest 2, the Citadel sandbox map (which we are hoping we can get optimized), and less enemies on screen during bigger fights compared to PC. The constant challenge was ‘how far can we push Nomad before Quest 2 performance becomes an issue,’ and so we straddled that line. One really cool thing about it was the development of Nomad gave way to latent performance optimizations for the PC version, because the team was always pushing to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the Quest 2 that it led to some creative optimization techniques that benefited the PC version.
Can you tell us anything about the upcoming 'Progression-based' mode that's set to release next year? Is it like a more evolved version of the procedural Dungeon mode?
TB: Yes, it is exactly like a more evolved version of the procedural Dungeon mode; that is a great way to say it. The first iteration of Dungeons is essentially “Dungeons Sandbox.” While you have a sense of progression navigating the Dungeon, ultimately it is still a Sandbox because you will be able to take any spawned weapon you like from the Home map, use mods to cheat, etc, and the goal is simply getting from start to finish.
When “Progression Mode” arrives in a future update the idea is to have much more structure to the Dungeon experience. At the very beginning, players will make a new character that will be different from their Sandbox character. There will be no free-spawning weapons or debug cheats with this character, and the player will now have a new motivation to progress through the Dungeon, which is to acquire loot to unlock new weapons and armour from a shop and unlock skills which are like perks on a skill tree (the exact details we will keep a surprise for now, but it’s cool!).
One big thing I will say about the skill tree though; we won’t be doing anything boring when it comes to unlocks. The worst thing ever for us are skills that you grind to unlock and then they do things like “add +5% melee damage.” We would much prefer our skill unlocks to be things that add something, such as a new spell or mechanic; something that changes up how you can play the game as opposed to a boring stat crunch.
Oh, and I should note: alongside Progression Mode, Sandbox Mode will still exist where the player can access everything right away from the start with no restrictions and nothing is locked. Just want to mention that in case anyone who enjoys sandbox was worried it was going away.
What is your favorite weapon to use and why?
TB: I am a fan of the Longsword; I like the versatility and being able to wield with two hands. But to be completely honest it is because it lets me embrace my inner-Aragorn fantasies. However, my real favorite weapon which some old school Blade & Sorcery fans might remember, was the Falchion which KospY removed some updates ago! I am still salty about it.
Finally, can you give new players some tips for how to be creative with their combat styles? Are there any fancy tricks that most players might not think of doing?
TB: There are so many! Too many to go into. It is one of those things that makes Blade & Sorcery really interesting; you can play for the longest time and then still be surprised by something new. The other day I was tumbling down a mineshaft while grabbing onto a sword that was impaled into an enemy when suddenly we came to an abrupt halt. I looked up and saw that the enemy’s foot had gotten snagged on a piece of wood, so he was dangling from the shaft, and I was dangling from a sword stuck in his chest. It’s the little things like that which I love!
But to give just one random tip, something a lot of people miss is that if you are grabbed onto a ledge, you can simply tap the jump button to hop up onto the ledge; no need to try to pull yourself up and over. You can also use this ledge jump to perform wall jumps.
We actually added a new tips screen in the Dungeons update to give people some heads up on all these small little hidden features.
You can finally put your skills to the test without the need for a beefy gaming PC with Blade & Sorcery: Nomad. Join the fight starting today on Quest 2 for $19.99 USD.