Note: OrbusVR: Reborn is an MMORPG that is under constant update. As such, this review is a snapshot of the game at the time it was reviewed. Some features/bugs will likely be changed/fixed in the future, causing inaccuracies in the review. We will try to provide updates and adjustments to the review in the future as they become relevant. This review is based on a two-week review period, during which the reviewer was able to try the main activity types and level the warrior class to level 20.
OrbusVR: Reborn is an expanded/reimagined version of the VR MMORPG OrbusVR, which was launched in early access for major VR headsets in late 2017. Reborn released shortly before the Quest, and this release brought the game out of its early-access period. Because of this, OrbusVR: Reborn was made available at the launch of the Quest, with a hefty $39.99 price tag. However, OrbusVR uses a “buy to play” model, charging upfront for the game, and does not charge any additional monthly subscription fees.
The price tag of OrbusVR: Reborn has inspired a lot of discussion among Quest users online wondering whether it’s worth almost $40. OrbusVR remains one of the most expensive games on the Oculus Store, with only Tokyo Chronos (a visual novel) matching it for price. To some players, OrbusVR will very much be worth the price, with hundreds of hours of content available and more always on the way. To other players, however, it will not be worth it, as the experience will frustrate them out of playing before they really get to experience all of this content. My goal with this review is to supply enough information for you, the reader, to determine whether this game will be right for you and better inform your buying decision.
While OrbusVR is an MMORPG, it does not play like the traditional Hotbar-based MMOs we have become accustomed to. OrbusVR makes use of the Oculus Touch controllers’ motion controls, and each class’s basic controls are intuitive to the weapon being held. Swords are swung, muskets are aimed and fired with the trigger, and magic is cast by drawing runes in the air with a wand. However, each class has some mechanics beyond this that are very important but are not as obvious. These mechanics are summarized in the player journal, but even then are easy to miss for new players.
For example, for my first choice of class, I played a warrior. I began my first fights by walking up to the monster I wanted to kill and wildly hacking away at it with my sword. It was very tiring and the damage done was minimal, leading to very long bouts of hacking to kill the monster. It wasn’t until watching some helpful YouTube videos that I learned what I was doing wrong. The warrior is a combo-based class, with four attack combos that apply a taunt, burst damage, area of effect, or slowing effect to the enemy. Warriors can also hold their swords above their heads until they charge it, then swing once more to repeat the effect.
The warrior also has a horn that taunts all enemies within a specific range, a charge attack that closes the distance between them, and small or large shields to choose from. The small shields provide more damage, the large ones offer more damage absorption. These are a lot of mechanics to learn, but once you learn them, the motion-based controls will become second nature.
In many cases, a lot of thought has been put into how you interact with the world in OrbusVR. To speak to NPCs, you simply walk up to them and wave your hand at them as though you’re saying hello. You look at your Quests by physically opening your journal and paging through a book that you can move around and turn the pages. You unsheathe weapons and other equipped items by physically pulling them off your body, and you blow horns by holding them up to your mouth.
Many of these interactions really lend a sense of realism to the world, giving it the illusion of living in a real place. Changing classes is very easy as well, as a vendor in the middle of town hands out beginner weapons for any character class. Changing character classes is as easy as equipping that class’ weapon. You could level every class to max level on a single character if you wish to do so!
However, for every satisfying interaction in the game, there also seems to be another unintuitive aspect. This leads to a lot of frustration among players just starting off. While the journal is easy to use, getting it open is accomplished by grabbing your compass off your body, then turning it upside down. This is easy enough once you learn it but may confuse players early on. The menus, as well, are not always organized as one may expect, with mission tracking, achievements, and class talents being shoehorned into the inventory menu.
Leveling and gearing your character is generally accomplished by accepting missions in the main town of Highsteppe. Most missions require a certain number of enemies of a particular type to be defeated to complete it. Missions can be completed at either a bronze, silver, or gold level, depending on the number of target monsters you killed before finalizing it. The various missions offer XP, reputation, money, and gear depending on the level at which you completed it. Gear is also dropped by enemies at random intervals, but cannot be traded or sold between players. This makes grinding out missions and killing enemies the only way to obtain gear, which is a bit of a bummer.
If this sounds like a grind, it is. Missions can be repeated after their initial completion by spending mission tokens to have them reassigned to you. You get five tokens a day, and they stack up to 25. However, if you run out of these tokens, you are left grinding mobs for relatively low XP gains to level up if you want to play solo. You can, however, still engage in group content, such as dungeons and world events. These will net you XP and gear, so there are always alternatives that may provide more fulfilling ways to progress.
There are also lore quests available that fill in the backstory of the game and often have more exciting objectives associated with them than the main missions. Unfortunately, the only reward for completing these quests is additional reputation points with the NPC that gave them to you. This makes lore quests feel less rewarding than the main game missions. I can’t help but think that they would be more fulfilling if there were at least some additional XP reward for completing them.
OrbusVR is the kind of game you must meet halfway. You need to be willing to work through the game’s bugs, grinding, and obtuse design, but if you do the game rewards you with exciting gameplay. On more than one occasion, Orbus would not register the swings of my sword, leading to some frustrating deaths. In some instances, it stopped registering my hits entirely, necessitating a restart of the game. Orbus even crashed my Quest during one session, requiring a complete power-down to make the Quest usable again.
Latency can also be an issue, sometimes causing delays in damage being applied during combat, which can lead to some infrequent, but frustrating, deaths. I’ve also had some moments of hitching in character positions, which can be jarring and could potentially cause some motion sickness. I found the frame rate, in most cases, quite smooth.
OrbusVR: Reborn is also loaded to the brim with side activities. These include crafting of lures and potions, fishing, dragon pet races, critter capture, resource gathering, special events, and more. Many of these side events, such as potion crafting, are both fun and feed into the main gameplay. Others, like fishing, dragon racing, and critter capture, have their own missions associated with them that can be used to help level and gear your character. These events are an excellent way to break up the game’s combat if that method of leveling starts to feel monotonous. I especially enjoyed Critter Capture, which has the player tracking down small animals (sometimes by finding their droppings), then using a horn to scare them out. After revealing the creatures, you capture them with a net gun in a minigame that feels like an MMO version of the classic NES Duck Hunt.
As of the writing of this review, a currently ongoing fall seasonal event has added some additional lore quests and Critter Capture events to the game, with seasonally cosmetic item rewards. All of these events add diversity and value to the overall package and offer more content to experience alone or with friends.
Orbus nails its social features. The Oculus Quest makes interacting with other players as easy as walking up to them and talking. The microphone picks up your voice automatically, and any players in earshot can hear it.
Being able to gesture with your hands adds an individual expressiveness to the game that many other MMOs don’t always capture with canned emotes. This works very similarly to other VR social apps like VRChat and RecRoom. However, I believe the OrbusVR community is much friendlier than other VR social app communities for a few reasons. Since the game gives players unified goals to work together to complete, there’s much more of a culture of cooperation instilled within the community.
The fact that the game has a relatively steep paywall, rather than being a free app, also seems to keep the toxicity in check. No one wants to be banned from the game they paid $40 for.
Group content is at the heart of this game like any MMO, and OrbusVR: Reborn thankfully does it very well. As of this review, the game contains four group dungeons as well as an endgame raid. Finding a pick-up group for this content is easy because of the built-in group finder. The portal to these dungeons is located in the central city of Highsteppe, which also provides a convenient location to chat and find a group the old-fashioned way. There are methods to adjust the difficulty of these activities to meet the skill level of your group. The dungeons feel a bit shorter than many other MMOs, consisting each of two bosses connected by relatively short stretches of “trash” enemies. This brevity works in the game’s favor, surprisingly, allowing more runs in a shorter period, and helping to avoid some problems of the Quest’s physical design (see below).
Even More Content
The bosses in the group dungeons/raid include the type of mechanical complexity that other MMOs usually have. This complexity results in a great sense of accomplishment as your group figures out how to collaborate to overcome the boss. The developers have already promised two new dungeons. In addition, one new raid will be released soon, further bolstering the game’s suite of group content.
Other social activities include opt-in world PvP and organized PvP battlegrounds, a robust player economy that consists of both player-run stores and an auction house. Any mission, quest, or activity in the game can also be completed together with friends, which significantly enhances the fun of these activities. Players can also organize into Fellowships (guilds) giving a more extensive network for players to cooperate on the type of content they want to play.
There are individual-player and Fellowship houses in the game, but unfortunately at this moment customization of this is minimal. World events also provide some quick opportunities to team up with fellow players. Beacons pop up all over the world signifying a short challenge, often with new objectives and rewards, that can be completed in conjunction with other players that are currently in the area.
Unfortunately, OrbusVR: Reborn is not the most majestic game, visually or aurally. The environments in the game have a very low-poly, minimalistic look. This can be a style decision in and of itself, but here it feels more like it was chosen out of necessity. Player character models have a very cartoony look to them and float through the environment, but just don’t look very appealing. Enemy models are more detailed and creative but don’t always seem to animate as they should. Sometimes the models skip attack animations, and sometimes they skip death animations and simply disappear. Compared to footage of other versions, it seems that a severe graphical downgrade was necessary to get this game running on the Quest. Some environmental effects, such as rain, are entirely absent.
The sound effects in the game are basic but are generally helpful in conveying game state information to the player, such as taking hits from enemies, leveling up, and sound effects related to different class gameplay functions. The various overworld music themes work for their various subjects, but tend to drone on and are easily ignored by the player.
Longevity is OrbusVR’s bread and butter. Out of the box, there is a ton of content between leveling up the eight character classes to level 30, then going through endgame raids, as well as a long list of side activities. As this is an MMO, there’s also the promise of further content patches and expansions on the horizon. This will add even more activities to an already content-rich experience and cements OrbusVR: Reborn as the biggest game on the Quest so far.
This large amount of content certainly justifies the $40 price tag. This game will last longer than most other paid games currently on the Oculus store by orders of magnitude. The promise of further content only makes the deal sweeter, and I find this model preferable to paying a subscription fee. There are extra in-game purchases that can be made, likely to help further fund development of the game. When I looked through these items, they were entirely cosmetic items such as pets, mounts, and costume pieces. The prices of these items maxed out around $10 each. There were no consumables, XP boosters, or loot boxes on sale in the cash shop, so there’s thankfully no ability to “pay to win” in the game.
However, in the case of the Quest version, the Oculus Quest itself can somewhat work against the longevity of the game, at least as far as the length of each play session is concerned. Because this is a massive MMO, players will likely want to play this for hours on end, but the Quest’s limited battery life necessitates breaks for recharging. The Quest itself also tends to get heavy on the user’s head during extended play sessions.
If you wish to really spend your time in OrbusVR, you’ll likely want to invest in some comfort/battery modifications for your Quest. Also, while the Quest is technically a portable system, OrbusVR is an always-online MMORPG, and thus requires a location with a good Wi-Fi connection to be played. Potential buyers must know this and be able to plan for it ahead of time.
OrbusVR: Reborn is a challenging game to assign a score to, as it will be many different things to many different players. Some will get into the game’s group content and raiding scene, while others will enjoy engaging with the game economy and playing as a merchant and crafter. Others will love the social aspect of the game, and get deep into collecting cosmetic items, pets, and mounts. Others may not see any of this content and might be turned off by the endless grind of the game, or by the bugs and server issues. Some will get into PvP combat, and others may avoid it entirely. Some will appreciate the innovative nature of playing an MMORPG in VR and truly inhabiting a fantasy world. I have no doubt that others will find themselves compelled to compare it to other, more user-friendly, MMORPGs.
I personally enjoyed my time in OrbusVR: Reborn, and I thought it was a fun world to hop into to do some questing and group content. The people that will most appreciate this game are Quest owners looking for meaty experiences who don’t mind dealing with grinding and technical issues. OrbusVR will also appeal to MMORPG fans that want a game that feels like a throwback to the pre-World of Warcraft days. If this sounds terrible to you, this game may not be what you are looking for, and I would suggest waiting to see if a free demo comes to the Quest before jumping in.
If you enjoy the gameplay of OrbusVR: Reborn, you'll be playing this game for a very long time. However, OrbusVR can sometimes make itself hard to love due to obtuse design, grinding, and immersion-breaking bugs.