New 'Boneworks' Gameplay Video Shows off Physics-based Combat

Boneworks is on a mission to redefine VR gameplay with a highly simulated approach to movement, interaction, and combat. Today developer Stress Level Zero showed off one of the game’s first levels in a new video.

Due out in 2019, Boneworks is described by developer Stress Level Zero as an “Experimental Physics VR Adventure” with a healthy dose of combat. Featuring a full body avatar, the game aims to give players a rich sense of immersion and embodiment by driving everything with physics, from guns to objects to enemies.

A new video from Node (a YouTube channel which is separate from Stress Level Zero but shares the studio’s Brandon Laatsch as a founder) shows off one of the first levels in Boneworks, including a healthy does of combat against the ‘headcrab’-like enemies which actually turn out to be sentient VR headsets that hunger to lock you into an even deeper virtual world.

Stress Level Zero’s goal with Boneworks is to base the game on a static set of physics-based rules in order to give players the freedom to tackle both puzzles and combat in any way that comports with the rules of the game world. This is a different approach to VR interaction design compared to many other games which ‘script’ most of their interactions—which sometimes means players will try to do something that seems reasonable but doesn’t work because the interaction was never programmed (for instance a player trying to ‘bash’ an enemy with their shield, only to find it clips through the enemy).

This physics-based approach allows for some creative and entertaining combat, as seen in the video above, like being able to attack enemies with weapons like axes, hammers, and swords, or to grab enemies mid attack and push them back. At one point, the player grabs one of the spider enemies and headbutts it to death against a wall. At another, he grabs two of the spiders and smashes them together until they die.

The studio also hopes that this freedom of interaction will spread to the game’s puzzle elements too, allowing players to find creative solutions that the developers themselves may not even have considered. We go into a bit more detail about the philosophy behind Bonework’s approach in this article, which also includes an ‘Action Teaser’ video which was released last month.

While the combat in the video shows only fights against the spider enemies, Stress Level Zero founder Brandon Laatsch says that the game will definitely include more enemies, including humanoids; he teases that more will be revealed at a later date.

Boneworks is due out on Steam (with support for the Vive, Rift, and Windows VR headsets) at some point in 2019, though a specific release date hasn’t been announced.

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