Behemoth VR Behemoth VR PlayStation VR2 Behemoth VR PS5 Behemoth VR PSVR2 Feature Hands-Off Preview PlayStation PlayStation VR2 Preview PS5 PSVR2 Shawn Kittelsen Skydance Games Skydance Interactive Sony

Skydance’s Behemoth PSVR2 Hands-Off Preview – VR David vs. Goliath

Skydance’s Behemoth PSVR2 Hands-Off PreviewThe promise of virtual reality gaming has been and continues to be a total sense of immersion that makes you feel like you’re stepping into a whole new world with your headset.

VR games fulfill that promise to varying degrees, though it looks like a VR game set to arrive on PSVR2 sometime in Fall 2024 is about to achieve new heights of fulfilling that promise in a very literal sense.

Skydance’s Behemoth from Skydance Games sets you in the warrior boots of Wren, and as the studio’s vice president of creative Shawn Kittelsen described to me, puts you on a “roller coaster” of a VR experience.

I got to speak to Kittelsen and watch a gameplay demo of Skydance’s Behemoth for PSU, and based on what I saw and heard from Shawn, if Skydance’s Behemoth is a roller coaster, then it looks like one ride I won’t want to get off.

Skydance’s Behemoth PSVR2 Hands-Off Preview – VR David vs. Goliath

Kill Things First, Ask Questions Later

In Skydance’s Behemoth (which I’ll call ‘Behemoth’ for brevity moving forward) you play as Wren, a character that can really be whoever you want them to be. You’ll choose how Wren looks and sounds through various skin tone options for your arms and voice options for any spoken dialogue. But you won’t have any dialogue choices, it’s more about letting you inhabit the world of Behemoth in the way that you want.

They’re also canonically not gendered, so you can decide in your head who Wren is. They do have a backstory, and have traveled across a sea to get to the game’s setting, the Forsaken Lands, but I didn’t get to hear much about that in this preview.

Story details like that and why these lands are forsaken are being held close to Skydance’s chest for the final game, but Kittelsen did confirm to me that it’s something to do with this curse that Wren is also afflicted by.

There’s even a symptom of this curse that manifests as a kind of rot you can find (and climb) throughout the lands. To make these lands no longer forsaken and to save your own people and everyone you love, you’ll need to break the curse, which requires you to kill each Behemoth.

While the story will definitely be an important part of your adventure in Behemoth, it’s clear to me even now that it is not meant to be your main focus. Your focus instead will be to chop off some heads, get into intense fights and chiefly to take down absolutely gigantic creatures known as Behemoths. In fact if that’s all you come to Behemoth for, you can ignore the story in the included arena mode, where you’ll simply take down waves and waves of enemies.

It would however technically be wrong to wholly disqualify the story from being important before we’ve all seen what it has to offer. But if Behemoth does turn out to have a rich narrative then that’ll simply be a nice bonus to what looks to be a solid action-focused game.

Right from the jump in the demo I watched, the combat looked extremely dynamic. You can block, dodge, and parry attacks so long as you get the angle right.

You’ll have designated “hero weapons” that never leave your side – you can even throw and call them back a-la mjolnir or Kratos’s axe – but you can also pick up any dropped weapon and use it as you slice through your enemies.

Speaking of slicing through your enemies, you’ll be able to do just that, and a lot more. Cut off any limb, impale any part of your enemy, find your own preferred method of watching those you fight get skewered, and then try 50 different more ways.

The promise of Behemoth is that they’ll all work, and the demo showed that range well. “A lot of weird things can happen,” said Kittelsen.

That’s what helped really sell me on Behemoth. If VR is meant to be this pinnacle of immersion, and I’m supposed to live out this sort of warrior fantasy, then I’d like to really feel and see my sword digging into my enemies thigh while I grab their head with my other hand and rip their leg from the rest of their body. I didn’t actually see that happen in the demo, but it does look like something that would be possible in Behemoth.

Kittelsen likened it to Mortal Kombat, saying the dynamic severing gets you as close to a “create your own fatality” kind of experience as possible.

You can even drop the weapons entirely if you want. Your fists are enough to get the job done, thanks to super strength abilities that aid in combat and traversal for bringing down bridges or smashing through thick wooden panels.

Through various swords, axes, bows, shields, and your own hands, there are plenty of viable builds to fit whatever play style you prefer. In fact seeing players get really creative with all the different ways they can execute the combat is what Kittelsen says he’s most excited for, once it’s ready to launch.

Is A Grapple Hook Ever A Bad Thing?

Though the story remains a mystery for now it’s not the only thing I’ve got apprehensions about. It’ll take approximately 12 hours to complete, according to Kittelsen, and every story beat will be happening in-engine, you won’t be jumping into cutscenes.

Just off a pessimistic hunch I’d say the story might not be enough to sustain that runtime, but the combat looks like it could sustain that and a lot more. My worries about the story on my own, my impression of everything I’ve seen and heard just leaves me weary.

Also I can imagine there will be plenty of players like me who won’t be able to get Shadow Of The Colossus out of their heads when looking at Behemoth. So already I’m wondering if that’s just in looks, or if there will be a SotC-like twist in the narrative.

There’s always a danger to looking recognizably close to your influences, that the player could just look at the new game and say “Well, I’m actually just going to play the game this game reminds me of.”

Behemoth might fall victim to that a bit, but perhaps the grandiose of VR will be able to stave off those feelings. But again, that’s all my own analysis based on what I saw and heard.

My bigger apprehension however comes from a game traversal mechanic I thought I would always love. You get a grapple hook in Behemoth, and can use it to ascend and descend from different levels, zip across two platforms laterally, and you can swing.

You can use it to swing yourself to where you’re trying to go, and I don’t know how I’d begin to handle that in VR. I feel like I have my VR sea-legs and I doubt I could do that in game and feel fine.

I usually love grapple hooks – they’re the best, and should be in everything – or so I once thought. I’m admittedly not looking forward to trying out that for the first time, but maybe I’ll find away to complete whatever traversal challenge has swinging potential without swinging.

You’re Going To Need A Bigger Sword

The core combat with which you’ll mostly spend defeating human enemies, the potential for the story to fall flat, and for the traversal to potentially make me feeling sick aside, Behemoth has to deliver on one major aspect. The Behemoth’s themselves.

I only got to see the footage from a boss fight with an early Behemoth, who Kittelsen assures me is on the smaller scale, which even in a hands-off demo I could see would look terrifyingly when in headset.

What was spoiled for me but won’t be for you is how this first Behemoth is meant to be taken down, I’d hardly call the facts of taking down a boss a spoiler.

Especially because I was watching a form of boss fight that is just easily recognizable to anyone that’s played nearly any video game with a boss-like encounter.

Which I felt a tinge of concern about, in the sense that the worst case scenario for a game like this would be that all the Behemoth fights are repetitive. I hope that’s not the case.

I really hope each of the Behemoth fights are unique and really interesting. Kittelsen also confirmed to me that there’s a whole lot more human bosses than actual Behemoths, so hopefully they’re just that little bit more special than the rest of the game. If not, it’ll really stand out.

For now at least they all promise to be spectacles, and that could likely end up being enough.

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall (Optimistic)

“Go big or go home” is an adage I generally agree with, and in the case of Behemoth VR, it certainly seems like Skydance have made the choice to “go big.”

At a targeted 90 FPS, and with the experience on PlayStation VR2 described to me as playing the game on the “Ultra” settings preset on PC, paired with the combat and gore dynamism on display and the massive, ‘behemoth’ sized bosses, that could all be spectacle enough.

There’s a version of this game I can see that maybe doesn’t hit on all fronts, but hits on the important ones enough that it is so wickedly fun. That would be enough for me.

Kittelsen emphasized that Skydance is “dedicated” to making excellent, high-quality VR experiences, so I’m going to take his word on that and look forward to a high-quality experience.

We’ll just have to see if Skydance’s Behemoth can live up to that standard when it arrives sometime in Fall 2024 on PSVR2.