Having played the game to completion, we feel it would be fair to describe Hubris as “a narrative-driven sci-fi shooter that utilises a range of made-for-VR mechanics to create a varied gaming experience spanning a range of beautifully crafted futuristic landscapes. From platforming sections to underwater missions and even a fast-paced hoverbike sequence, Hubris will keep players wondering what’s next as they battle their way across a hostile alien world..”
Sounds cool, right?
It would also, and without contradicting any of the above in any way, be completely fair to describe Hubris as “the gaming equivalent of watching a remarkably physically attractive person completely misunderstand the concept of fun and then spend six hours explaining to you why they are the most fun person they know.”
Let’s unpack that, shall we…
GOOD LOOKING… ON PAPER
Hubris begins with the player embodying a character known only as “recruit,” a newbie cadet joining an intergalactic law enforcement organisation known as the “Order of Objectivity.” Rather quickly, your routine transfer to your training facility goes awry. With only the most cursory of establishing narrative, you begin to navigate a strange alien environment steeped in an entirely theoretical mystery.
The story then proceeds to methodically expose itself throughout a 5-6 campaign. As you make your way through the game, you will encounter a trio of characters who, despite being well-voiced and reasonably animated, somehow collectively carry the emotional resonance of a single beige sock.
While each narrative section makes sense in context and serves to progress the campaign, the dialogue is dull. In fact, the entire story feels as though it was designed entirely to set up a series of missions rather than creating the sense of foreboding intrigue that the game seemed to be aiming for. The story vaguely hints at something deeper in the final chapter but never explains it, perhaps as a setup for a sequel. Up until then, it would be fair to summarise the entire narrative as “Oh no! Bad guys!”
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE
Throughout the game, the player will switch from straight combat to platforming in a way that makes perfect sense for the flow of the gameplay. The only issue is; both the jumping and grabbing mechanics are so inconsistent and unrealistic that they demean any sense of immersion gained by the rest of the game.
The jumping feels weightless, occupying a physics system that feels distractingly alien, even considering the extraterrestrial context. Grabbing clearly marked edges in mid-air is so hit-or-miss as to become a masterclass in frustration, although it fares slightly better on PSVR2 for some inexplicable reason. Mixing the gameplay by interspersing platforming sections amidst the combat missions is a great idea, but it’s let down by the poor execution of the jumping and grabbing mechanics.
Also mixed into the proceedings are some underwater sections. Thankfully these are a great success. Swimming works well, and the gear change in play style accompanying these sections is rewarding and engaging. These sections really highlight the potential of the varied gameplay the developers were going for. Had the other sections been equally well delivered, things might have been different for Hubris.
PRETTY…PRETTY EMPTY THAT IS
Despite all the sub-genres stuffed into its missions, Hubris remains, at its heart, a sci-fi shooter. If this core conceit had been delivered to a class and standard that matched its presentation, all other criticisms would have paled against a set of basics done well. Unfortunately, as a shooter, Hubris feels vain and shallow.
Players quickly acquire a starting weapon, a humble space blaster that can be upgraded by an infuriatingly slow collecting and crafting system. This system also allows players to transform their beloved pew pew into a broadly ineffectual semi-automatic or what is, quite possibly, the worst shotgun yet to grace VR. With the expanded arsenal quickly proving lacklustre, players will find that the bulk of the action is best serviced with the rather mundane but well-upgraded starter weapon.
Thankfully, the range of enemies you will face hardly requires an audacious arsenal to be dispatched, so that starting pistol should do you just fine. The variety of enemies is slim, as is the, and I’m being generous here, ‘AI’ that drives them. Although not as bad as the likes of Gambit, flanking enemies felt far easier than it should be, and much of the action felt reminiscent of Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge.
That is not to imply that combat is terrible. There were definitely a few of the less linear combat sections that had me enjoying myself, but it did all feel like something that we have already seen, and a few years ago at that. Couple that with the lack of grenades, drones, shields, or anything creative or interesting to bring to the combat, and you have an action game that feels disappointingly one-dimensional.
Let’s not beat around the bush; Hubris is a good-looking game.
In fact, it’s the type of game that makes you realise how far developers have come since the Quest 2 was initially released. From the futuristic internal environments to the cavernous underwater sections and onto the strange alien skies of the twin planets, the world of Hubris is an impressive sight to behold.
There is some artifacting around the hands, and sometimes the heads of characters, which is mildly distracting, and the surface water effects don’t quite match the insane standards set in Breachers, but overall Hubris occupies a place at the top tier of what players can visually expect from the Quest 2. The art direction is clear and consistent, and the visual world-building is far superior to its narrative counterparts. In terms of visuals, there is much to appreciate and very little to complain about.
On PSVR2, the graphics clearly outshine those on the Quest 2, which is to be expected. Hubris also benefits from superior haptics.
The sound design in Hubris also speaks to a game with high production values. The sound effects are consistent with the world, and most would feel at home in a high-budget sci-fi film. Some of the critter sounds are a little weak, particularly when compared to the masterful work of games like Crashland, and there is little in the way of ambient sounds in the bigger open areas. But overall, the sound design complements the graphics well, and the two elements together go a long way to distracting you from the gameplay issues, successfully putting some glossy lipstick on our hubristic little pig.
IF LOOKS COULD KILL
Hubris has a list of features and gameplay mechanics that should make it one of the most engaging single-payer VR games of all time – had they been done well. But, perhaps fittingly for a game called Hubris, it seems that pretty graphics and a laundry list of features were assumed to be enough to satiate players. They aren’t.
The general concept of mixing climbing, swimming, platforming, and driving sections with a traditional linear action game is brilliant. In fact, the pure potential of using all of these techniques to fuel an epic story-driven adventure is intoxicating. However, when compared with the various best-in-class mechanics that already exist in each of these auxiliary genres, Hubris sadly proves that being a jack of all trades but master of none is not an ideal proposition for a VR action game.
TLDR : Summary
Hubris has a list of features and gameplay mechanics that should make it one of the most engaging single-payer VR games of all time - had they been done well.