My favorite moment in Evasion came when I was crouched on the floor, my body curled up into as small a target as I could make myself. No HP to spare. A single hit from the drones flying above me and I was toast, but I was so close to finishing this lengthy stand-off, blowing up a couple generators, and completing my mission. Just a few more waves of robotic enemies to shoot down, and I'd be clear. A crate to my right blocked fire from a couple more robots on the ground, who weren't an immediate threat like the ones buzzing overhead. That "oh shit" adrenaline pumped through me as I held my left hand out in front. That was my shield hand, and crouched down as I was, I could stop just about any projectile from hitting me if I paid attention. I was paying very close attention.
Holding my right hand out at an awkward angle around my shield, I took potshots at the drones, tracking their flight patterns and firing my pistol erratically, more focused on blocking the shots that came towards my head. My "I'm going to die" nerves started to turn into "Am I actually going to pull this off?" nerves, which aren't much better. Then what I was hoping for happened: I landed a blast on one of the drones and it vaporized, leaving behind a floating green blob. I squeezed the Oculus Touch controller's grip button to tether the healing orb out of the air and pull it towards me. It splashed down onto the ground, creating a shimmering healing circle right at my feet. In a few seconds I was back to full health, and out of danger. My heart stopped pounding by the time I took out the last few drones.
As VR shooters go, Evasion doesn't look or feel too different from plenty of others. Pointing and aiming with motion controllers is probably VR's purest videogame interaction, but when the guns feel good to fire, that simplicity is not a problem. Evasion has those basics down pat, but what's impressive about it is how much fun I had by myself, when the real draw of the game is being able to play co-op.
Evasion has a proper campaign with missions that can be played solo or with a friend (or stranger) online. While I wouldn't have had that near-death experience with a friend at my side, I'd have something even better: the ability to work together and heal my partner if they went down. And that's likely to happen, since Evasion ramps up the difficulty for two players.
Instead of littering a variety of guns around its levels, Evasion lets you choose between four classes, which all have unique weapons and abilities. Each has a gun and a shield, and the shield hand doubles as a secondary ability.
I played as the Engineer, and could charge up my gun for more powerful shots. Against fast flying enemies, those hits were hard to land, so I mostly stuck to the rapid-fire and used the charge shot against the robotic enemies that came at me on foot. I especially enjoyed my secondary ability, which let me tether onto weakened enemies with an energy and send them flying. I got into a nice rhythm of shooting at one enemy while whip-spiking another into the ground.
All the classes also have interplay with other players, which I didn't get to experience. The engineer can buff someone else by tethering onto them, TF2-style. The tanky Warden offers a defense buff, while the Surgeon specializes in healing. Evasion was already complex enough to sustain my interest playing solo, but balancing attack and teamwork sounds even better.
I tend to get motion sick after awhile playing VR games that have you move with a joystick, but I didn't have any trouble with Evasion. It does offer some heavily configurable movement options, though, including a stuttery jump forward motion meant to help those that get queasy.
Based on the first level of Evasion, it's a game I'd happily co-op my way through with a friend, and stick around with long enough to try out all four classes in its Horde mode against waves of bots. Unless the story takes some surprise twists after the first level, it's not going to be much of a draw—you're essentially space marines on a colony planet, there are a bunch of robots to shoot, get to it—but it's still nice to have a campaign, with levels to work your way through and objectives to complete. The opening mission was light on those, so hopefully later in the campaign it digs deeper than standing on a plate to disable a generator's shield, then blasting it to oblivion.
Even with simple missions, the classes feel good enough solo, and gain enough depth in co-op, that they could carry Evasion through a campaign without it growing stale. For most people, the real trick will be having a friend to play in co-op with, if you don't want to roll the dice with matchmaking. Evasion's out for both SteamVR and the Oculus Rift on October 9.