Hands-on with Bohemia Interactive’s Vigor

Vigor was a surprise announcement at this year’s E3. There’s usually a lot of rumors and leaks leading up to the annual event, but this Xbox One exclusive from DayZ developer Bohemia Interactive managed to avoid any unwanted premature attention.

Admittedly I was a bit confused as to what type of game Vigor was trying to be before I actually jumped into it. With the popularity of the battle royale genre, I had a feeling that’s what it was going for, but that doesn’t appear to be the case at all. Though Vigor is a multiplayer survival game, you won’t be fighting dozens of other players to be the last man standing.

For Vigor’s closed preview, a lot of content was not available. Once you made it through the opening tutorial area and got a feel for its gameplay (which felt a tad clunky in my opinion), you could choose between one of two maps to play: Draug Fort or Fisk Factory.

These maps weren’t all that large, but Vigor only supports from 8-16 players anyway, so they certainly don’t need to be Skyrim-sized. I think if played enough you could easily grow accustomed to each map and know where you’re going just by the environment, but that’s assuming that the rest of the maps are relatively the same size.

I jumped into Draug Fort first, and it honestly felt like a generic forest landscape. There’s some abandoned houses, a shipwrecked boat near the northwest, empty cars litter the paths. Nothing quite stands out as striking or unique, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Though I would have liked for Vigor’s maps to have more unique personalities and atmospheres to them, especially in a post-apocalyptic Europe, I also realize I haven’t seen all the game has to offer.

While you’re in a map, you’ll be tasked with finding materials to craft supplies and weapons to increase your chances of survival as well as fortify your shelter. You and whoever else is in your match will compete for loot drops to give you the upper hand. My encounters with players weren’t exactly chaotic firefights raining down bullets—though I did have an automatic weapon—they played out a bit more slowly. That’s not to say they weren’t tense, though. I just get the feeling that Vigor is going for a more strategic, intimate experience than balls to the wall action with dozens of players.

Now comes the worst part of my time with Vigor: it was difficult getting into a server. I’m not sure if it was due to a lack of players from the game being in a closed beta for Xbox Insiders, but I found myself being logged out quite frequently so I couldn’t jump into a match. Now this is exactly what beta’s like this are for, so hopefully Bohemia can work out any connectivity issues before a wider release.

Another important aspect that needs to be fine-tuned is the ability to interact with objects. Currently it’s quite finicky to place the cross hair just right so that a button prompt pops up and you can interact with whatever you’re trying to interact with. As of now you’ll deal with a lot of hovering over an object in the hopes that X will pop up long enough for you to press it.

Vigor has the potential to be a smash hit, but it could just as easily fall by the wayside while other games enjoy the spotlight. Sure, your movement feels a bit janky and it’s not as polished as a blockbuster AAA title, but neither are some of the best games that fly under the radar.