What is Zenith(VR)?
In the event that you were to ask me what the most important aspect of Zenith is at the moment, I would say it is the cooking. Not because of the anticipated stat boosts, but rather because of how well it works in virtual reality. It’s a wonderfully cathartic process; flipping dough and timing temperatures necessitate concentration and precision in a way that a traditional crafting menu simply cannot match. It’s a small but significant indication of what virtual reality can do to reshape one of the most important categories in the gaming industry.
In fact, it’s clear that Zenith wants to do more than just routinely transplant a popular genre into headsets; they want to completely dissect, study, and then re-pierce the MMO to make it much more appropriate for the medium. It wants to take meaningful steps toward creating an experience similar to Sword Art Online, rather than simply mentioning such inspirations in the hopes of making a quick buck. At launch, it accomplishes at least some of these goals admirably, but Zenith has a long way to go before it can claim to have achieved its lofty objectives.
The most important thing to note is that it is already one step ahead of the competition. To be clear, this is the first true, proper native VR MMO that does not exaggerate the scope of its online elements or structure. Many expansive zones where players can run wild and beat up enemies in search of experience points and loot have already been established, with limited time events pushing them into specific areas, quest lines that last for hours, and a gear and progression system that rewards constant incremental improvement. Simply put, this is a significant achievement for the industry, and the fact that it has multiple consistently full servers suggests that it will not succumb to the curse of empty VR lobbies anytime soon.
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Combat, for example, makes an effort to be more diverse in its approach. As you strike your opponents, numbers will still fly out of their faces as you deliver your blows, and a quest tracker will keep track of your progress toward the left of your vision, but developer Ramen VR is making an effort to prevent you from simply waggling your wrists away with your eyes glazed over the majority of the time.
However, there is a small cooldown after each blow, so even if you swing your katanas back and forth furiously, the damage you cause will be limited to a few slashes. Mages, on the other hand, have two projectile-firing gauntlets that are mounted on their wrists and operate on a similar cooldown (though laser sights do mean you never need to give too much thought to aim). The Godstones, which are gesture-based abilities that can summon more powerful attacks, inflict status changes, or aid you and your friends, are essential to both roles in the game.
As a damage-per-second mage, I’ve summoned lightning, conjured fireballs that I can pluck from the air, fired gusts that knocked enemies back and ignited walls of flame, and I’ve always had a good sense of how quickly my character’s development was moving forward. Godstones provide much of the game’s strategic depth and help to emphasize teamwork among a variety of classes, but it is the accurate gesture recognition system that allows combat to flow in a superpowered manner.
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