BaseLAN 29.5 is just three weeks away. Everyone is likely spending all of the time that they have practicing for their various competitions. Teams are honing their ability to work as one, and individuals are perfecting their respective skills. But we’re holding one competition that you likely can’t prepare for. Chances are mighty slim that you have an HTC Vive in your house, and unless you do, there’s no way for you to practice for the Space Pirate Trainer competition.
Read carefully and head my advice. I’m your best chance at gaining a leg up on the competition. I’ve been playing this game almost daily for two months now, and while I’m no global leader, I’ve learned a few things in the last eight weeks that will be invaluable to you in the competition.
Space Pirate Trainer is a first person VR gallery shooter. The game makes use the HTC Vive’s room-scale VR tracking system to fully immerse you in the gameplay. If you’ve never tried virtual reality before, you honestly have no idea what you’re in for. The game requires that you move around in physical space. If you aren’t getting a workout, you’re doing it wrong – Trust me!
Once you have the headset on, you’ll be transported to another world. You’ll find yourself on the edge of a space station, with two pistols in your hand. Your task? Defend the area from never ending waves of flying, laser-firing droids.
In your hands, you’ll find pistols with selectable fire rates and ammo types. You can pick a single fire pistol that fires bullets and features a laser pointer, a burst fire pistol that fires energy pulses, a fully automatic energy pulse weapon, a single-shot-kill rail gun that requires insanely accurate firing, and a laser beam weapon that lets you use two and cross the streams for a more powerful attack. Each hand can also swap to a shield at any time by reaching behind your back.
The first few waves are very simple. The very first one is more of a target practice, it doesn’t even fire at you. After taking out the first few droids you’ll be fired upon. Most people take a hit here the first time they play because they aren’t paying attention, and they aren’t using the VR system to their advantage. The beauty of the Vive is room-scale VR. It lets you move around, and this game encourages you, nay requires, that you do so. If you aren’t ducking and dodging around oncoming fire, you’re not going to survive very long.
Space Pirate Trainer has a nice feature that will help you maneuver around oncoming enemy fire. As laser shots come whizzing towards you, time slows down automatically so you can pretend you’re Neo and do the limbo around the shots.
Pay Attention To The Sounds
To be successful in Space Pirate Trainer, you have to be hyper-vigilant. You MUST pay attention to the audio queues around you, or you are liable to be shot in the back. The game relies heavily on spatial audio to alert you as to where your most imminent threat is. As the droids charge up their shots, they make a beeping sound which indicates that A) they are about to fire, and B) where they are in relation to you. If you pay attention, you won’t be surprised by where you’re being shot from.
Hold Your Ground
I mentioned that you will have to move around within your play space to be successful, but that doesn’t mean you should run around like a fool. The best strategy is to hold your ground until you can’t. Most of the time you’re better off staying planted until after the droids have finished firing. Once their shots are in the air, they are in a fixed trajectory. If you are moving around while the droid is shooting you’re going to find yourself ducking under a bunch of scattered shots, rather than sidestepping a string of shots.
This strategy become especially important once you reach wave 10 and above. Droids start to work together in clusters, and you’ll find that some patterns involve a half dozen or more droids firing at you at once. It’s easier to not get hit, when you play chicken with the gunfire. Use bullet time to its fullest potential.
USE BOTH HANDS!
I’ve watched dozens of people try Space Pirate Trainer out and most of them do exactly the same thing. Rather than using both guns at the same time, they will alternate hands, based on the side of the map they are focusing on. There’s no point in keeping your right gun by your side when you’re looking to the left and vice versa. Fire both those weapons! You have them for a reason.
Don’t Let The Shield Be Your Crutch
The game gives you the option to pull out a shield at any given time while playing. Swapping from a gun to a shield and back takes about a second, so there’s really no need to always rely on the shield. It can certainly be helpful, but you’re limiting your score by only using one gun at a time. Best to use the shield only when you know you’re in over your head. That being said, it’s easy to forget about the shield (I do all the time), which can hinder your ability to pull off a high score ranking.
Go For The Multiplier!
The game is scored by kill shots on droids. A single kill is worth 50 points, and an “eye-shot” is worth 100 points. The game also has a multiplier system, which is absolutely essential for scoring high in a run. Every time you make a kill, you have one second to make an additional kill to initiate the multiplier. Really high ranking score rely on stacking the multiplier as high as it can go. To my knowledge there’s no upper limit to the multiplier, but it can be incredibly hard to maintain that pace.
The premier gun for getting massive multiplier scores has traditionally been the rail gun, but the developer recently made a change that keeps the multiplier alive as long as you make a hit within one second, not just a kill. This should make it much easier for gun options such as the auto pistols, to achieve much higher scores.
True To Life Accuracy
Before you can be effective with multipliers, you’re going to need to perfect your aiming prowess. VR games are very different from traditional computer games, in that they require true to life dexterity and coordination. If you’ve ever fired a real pistol before, you’ll have a marked advantage over those that haven’t. The game’s mechanics rely that much on realism.
There is no such thing as aim assist in VR. You either point the barrel in the right direction, or you don’t. Pay attention to where your shots end up, in relation to where you thought they were going, and adjust your barrel angle accordingly. If you can’t adapt quickly, you’ll never succeed.
You’re Going To Need Stamina
Finally, to really have any hope of being the top dog in Space Pirate Trainer, you’re going to have to pace yourself. You will be given 15 minutes to get your best score, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re running around, dodging bullets and shooting droids out of the sky, 15 minutes is an awfully long time. Don’t be surprised if more than one attendee gives up before their time is up. This game will give you a workout if you let it.
The Space Pirate Trainer competition will take place on Saturday, May 21st during BaseLAN 29.5. Do you have what it takes to come out on top?
Kevin Carbotte is Senior Editor, Hardware for AYBOnline.com. He knows a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The opinions in his columns are his and his alone, but you are free to have them.