Prepare to put your training to the ultimate test with Space Pirate Trainer DXfrom I-Illusions, a new and improved version of the beloved VR arcade shooter that introduces multiplayer for the very first time and a large-room Arena mode to redefine the way you use your physical space. Space Pirate Trainer DX releases exclusively on the Oculus Quest Platform on September 9 for $24.99 USD and will also be available as a free update to all current owners of the original game on the Oculus platform.
With Space Pirate Trainer DX, I-Illusions will let players bring their friends (or enemies) into the pulse-pounding laser battles of the future for the first time. With DX, there will be two new multiplayer game modes: Arena and Versus.
The first of the new modes is Arena and it’s available in two flavors: online Arena and Co-Located Arena Mode. In order to play either version of Arena mode, you’ll need a large playspace that’s at least 10m x 10m (32ft x 32ft) in size. Finding a large gymnasium or garage is probably a solid bet for best results. Arena mode transforms your area into a massive platform ripped right out of the cyberpunk future of your wildest dreams. You can run around freely and take full advantage of the wireless room-scale capabilities of Quest like never before.
The other new multiplayer game mode is Versus where you can either go head-to-head with a friend online or matchmake against a random stranger. Gameplay is just like the single-player game, except every time you shoot down a droid, a new one will spawn in your opponent’s game to increase the intensity. The catch, however, is that the same thing happens to you when they shoot down a droid as well. Inevitably, the result is always all-out blaster chaos.
And if you have a friend in the same playspace as you, then you can enable the Co-Located Arena Mode so that you can actually see each other in VR, in real-time, within the same physical space. There’s nothing else quite like it available on consumer VR headsets.
To get more insight into these thrilling new game modes and what it means for the future of Space Pirate Trainer, we chatted with Dirk Van Welden, captain of I-Illusions.
This is a big release for Space Pirate Trainer. What's it like to finally have multiplayer support shipping in what can only be described as one of the first "VR classics" in this era of VR?
Dirk Van Welden: Shipping a multiplayer version of a chaotic arcade game hasn’t been easy, because you’re syncing hundreds of lasers and objects at the same time, and we wanted to do a twist on classic multiplayer, and it feels like we have a large enough player base on Quest to make it work.
We think Arena is the ultimate multiplayer game, and as a team it’s the thing that excites us the most. We still need to see if players are excited enough to find a space to play, but hopefully it will just become a thing people like to do - showing off creative places to play in a fun and safe manner.
In Versus mode, you can spawn more droids for your opponent by destroying your own enemy droids. Just how chaotic do things get here?
DVW: We’ve been prototyping Versus mode for years now, and it’s gone through all sorts of permutations. The first version spawned two droids for your opponent for every droid you shot, but it got pretty chaotic pretty quickly because of the exponential number of droids.
After a lot of playtesting and fine tuning I think we’ve found the perfect balance of chaos and calm - with difficult progression systems that fans of Space Pirate Trainer might recognise making it easy for beginners and challenging for experienced players.
What are your top tips for someone going into Versus for the first time? Or the Arena mode as a beginner?
DVW: When you dive into Arena, it’s best to scout out each level and find good spots to hide. Arena is a game of hide and seek, but armed with laser weapons! To win in single player, the droid doesn’t know if you’re behind it, so try and find a way to sneak up behind for a blast in the back!
For Versus it helps to have played a lot of Space Pirate Trainer, so you’re good at aiming and dodging! Power Ups are pretty powerful in Versus, and it’s first come first serve so you’ll want to react as fast as you can. If you see a powerup appearing, switch over to the QuarkCannon or Raygun as you’ll be able to shoot the powerup faster than other weapons.
Do you prefer playing Versus, Arena online, or Co-Located Arena Mode as your favorite new way to play?
DVW: Co-Located Arena Mode is such a fresh experience, completely different every time! Being able to hear your adversary trying to be quiet, knowing they’re in the same room but not knowing exactly where - plus it’s kind of a work out. While we’ve been working on Arena for a couple of years it’s still an experience our team can’t get enough of.
Can you talk a little bit about the freedom of Quest and the new Arena mode? Players have never had something on this scale accessible on a consumer device without having to pay and visit a VR arcade facility.
DVW: The tracking on Quest has been pretty good from the start, and it’s only been improving. As you might have seen we’ve been racing around in a go kart in our office just to test tracking, and the tracking itself is very good - more than good enough for Arena type of gameplay.
We’re using the maximum boundary (10m x 10m) and we feel this is the perfect size for 1 to 1 gameplay. We’ve made levels with lots of corridors that make the play area feel much bigger. Just walking around the lobby is already an experience on its own!
We had to implement a system to prevent people from walking through walls, or at least disencourage that action. Another system keeps track of the distance between players and shows visual feedback when you’re too close to each other.
Despite the release of DX, players are presumably still "Training" to be "Space Pirates" is that right? Can you tell us what sort of conflicts on the horizon they're still training for? Any teases?
DVW: We’ve seen that 2% percent of Space Pirates have destroyed the mothership in Space Pirate Trainer, but we’re going to have to keep training if we’re ever going to survive the invasion. Arena should help with this - there’s still a lot of training to go!
What's next for I-Illusions?
DVW: We feel there’s a lot of potential in one-to-one large space gameplay, and room for a lot of innovation. Hopefully a lot of people pick Arena up and try it out. If that’s the case we’re hoping to do a lot more research into it to find amazing new innovative gameplay, plus hopefully other teams will experiment and make even more amazing innovations.
Space Pirate Trainer is available now on the Quest Platform for $14.99 USD—until the price increases to $24.99 USD on September 9. If you buy it before then, you’ll get the DX update for free. Enjoy!