All the way back on the 6th of June, I awoke to arguably the most important Twitter DM in my recent memory. The official Twitter account for a game I had been closely following for several months prior had reached out and asked if I’d be interested in participating in their beta test. That game, was Nostos.
Nostos is a fledgling open world MMO being developed by NetEase Games that promised not only breathtaking visuals, riveting story line and engaging game mechanics, but also a competent Virtual Reality experience unlike any other. A true, immersive, open world VR environment not yet successfully implemented by any other title. These were ambitious achievements, and although admittedly skeptical, I was hooked.
Before we get too much farther into this post, I’d like to preface that this isn’t intended to be a full review of the game itself. I’ll do a full review once the finished game has been released. Instead, I’d like to talk about the impression it left on me and my thoughts on how Nostos is a brilliant indicator on the future of consumer VR and VR MMOs going forward. After binging the beta over the weekend, I was left with a few important takeaways that were profound enough to make a post about.
To cut to the chase, Nostos is a “Lowkey-Hyped” MMO of our generation. Aside from stellar graphics and music. Nostos literally cemented itself as one of the top 5 anime-inspired VR/PC games on the market.
In no other VR title have I felt as immersed as taking my first step into Nostos. For the company’s first stab at a Virtual Reality game, it was extremely impressive, especially for being in beta. No weird issues with in game height or getting stuck in place. The surrounding scenery was just detailed enough to really feel like I was transported to a new world. Depth perception, object size and field of view all felt very natural and weren’t jarring. Those factors coupled with the extremely intuitive feeling controls made it amazingly simple to get used to. Raising up my left wrist to open the menu and easily find what I needed felt just how I imagine it would as depicted in shows like Sword Art Online (minus the whole trapped in a VR death game thing). This all made for an extremely unique and engaging experience, and I would go as far as saying it sets a standard for how a VR MMO should feel. It should feel natural and balance other worldly sights and sounds while not being abrasive and unpleasant.
Another impression that Nostos left on me was how subtly, yet perfectly, it reminded me of a mix between World Of Warcraft and Rust. It’s a bold claim, I know. Before you throw your PC at the wall, just hear me out on this.
The questing aspect of Nostos almost felt a bit too similar to WoW. The quests are easily tracked in your wrist mounted menu, easily grouped together and each one shows you the distance and direction of said quest. When a quest is completed, the next one in that quest line is automatically added to your quest log, but other quests can be accepted by speaking to NPCs. There’s also no shorted of them, which really made the game feel jam packed with story. It really felt like both making an MMO and a high tier VR title were equally prioritized. The felt developed in tandem.
I haven’t played much Rust myself, but from the experience I do have, Nostos gave me big Rust vibes. From the brute force nature of combat, the crafting aspect for creating most of your items and resources, building shelters and needing to stay hydrated and fed in order to survive. The NetEase team really did a fantastic job incorporating survival, gathering and crafting mechanics into this game. Also, circling back to controls for a minute, the act of eating and drinking in VR has never felt so natural. Simply open your inventory, take out what you want to eat/drink and hold it up to your mouth. That’s it. Easy and natural. No fuss, no muss. Using weapons was the same thing. To shoot a bow, pull the arrow back and let go. For an axe, just get close and swing the darn thing.
For all the hype that this game has, there are a few drawbacks. For example, many beta testers have stated that the world felt empty at times. There was a lack of a story, lack of “life”, and just overall NPCs weren’t there.
I even dare say Nostos doesn’t really have any value in replayability, loot stays on the ground, mobs don’t respawn. This really just begs the question, what is the end game of Nostos?