This is getting serious!
This article contains some serious spoilers. Read at your own risk!
Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope is a first-person shooter virtual reality video game developed by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital. It is the third VR game in the Serious Sam series, after Serious Sam VR: The First Encounter and Serious Sam VR: The Second Encounter. The game was released on 20 September 2017 and is available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. The game was first announced on June 13, 2016 at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016.
Plot[edit | edit source]
Set prior to the events of Serious Sam 3: BFE, it's the period of the first Mental War. Earth's military forces are crumbling under the hordes of the vicious extraterrestrial being Mental. He managed to break the will of many nations by destroying the ancient shrines of the native people. A fearless Earth Defense Force Captain, Sam "Serious" Stone, is leading the resistance from the Battlecruiser Saratoga in a desperate attempt to save the galaxy.
For his first mission, Sam is deployed to Egypt to assist professor Hermann Stein with his research on some ancient tables that he found. The professor needs to do his research in a few scattered locations around Egypt, so he has Sam protect him from any enemy threats. Later on, Sam is forced to deal with heavier resistance when a giant Space Mummy turns out of the blue. Sam defeats the Mummy and returns to the Saratoga to head to his next destination.
The Saratoga sends Sam to the planet dry desert planet of Pladeon to investiage a strange magnetic anomaly, as the Saratoga approaches the planet, it begins to fall out of orbit due to the effects of the anomaly. Sam lands on the planet and eliminates all of Mental's forces there, until he comes face-to-face with the anomaly. Once it has been defeated, Sam goes to the planet Shaanti after hearing rumors that Mental is working on some kind of super weapon. He makes his way towards some floating islands and discovers what this alleged super weapon really is: a dragon. Sam kills the dragon before it can be used for whatever evil purpose Mental was planning.
From then onwards, Sam visits a tropical swamp planet called Valtos. The EDF reports that Mental's forces are attacking the planet, so Sam goes there and ends up in a swamp. Later, Sam travels further and meets up with the leader of the resistance on Valtos. He informs Sam of his objective and has to destroy a large creature known as the Swamp Hive. Making his way there, Mental throws whatever he can at Sam, but serious as always, he eliminates them and kills the Swamp Hive.
Once he is done on Valtos, Sam goes to Arcadia Minor to discuss a diplomatic solution with the High Priest. As his people have a rather pacifistic nature, they prefer to not get involved in the war, despite the fact their planet has been invaded by Mental's armies. During Sam's time there, he notices a large spaceship hovering in the sky, but it does not engage. The ship appears again later on and this time Sam is forced to fight it. He destroys the ship and moves on to his next objective. The High Priest tells Sam more information about the spirit he worships. He tells him that this spirit was sent by Mental. Sam heads to the location of the alleged spirit, which is actually a massive giant, and is able to destroy it before he finally departs back to the Saratoga.
Characters[edit | edit source]
Enemies[edit | edit source]
- Adult Arachnoid
- Beheaded Kamikaze
- Beheaded Rocketeer
- Cloned Soldier
- Common Aludran Reptiloid
- Earth Giant (Boss)
- Fleet Fighter
- Giant Anomaly (Boss)
- Hatchling Antaresian Spider
- Juvenile Antaresian Spider
- Kleer Skeleton
- Lava Golem
- Lightning Man
- Major Bio-mechanoid
- Marsh Hopper
- Mine Bomber
- Minor Bio-mechanoid
- Saggitarian Sidewinder
- Scythian Witch-Harpy
- Shaanti Dragon (Boss)
- Space Fighter
- Space Mummy (Boss)
- Spaceship (Boss)
- Swamp Hive (Boss)
- Witch-Bride of Achriman
Weapons[edit | edit source]
- 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun: A standard pump-action shotgun that uses 12-gauge shells as ammo. Has a decent rate of fire but rather weak firepower. It doesn't have to be reloaded unlike the Serious Sam 3: BFE version.
- AS-24 Devastator: An automatic shotgun that fires 40 mm explosive rounds. The rounds can pierce through multiple weak targets at once.
- Bow: Ranged weapon that uses two types of arrows: standard and explosive. Can be used to fire arrows at a distance that deal instant death to weak enemies or deal high damage to tougher targets.
- Double Barrel Coach Gun: A powerful shotgun that fires two shells at once. Compared to other games the weapon appears in, the shotgun has a much higher rate of fire.
- Flying Mine: An explosive device that will fly into the player and explode on contact with them.
- Heavy Lasergun: Energy weapon that behaves in a similar way to the XL2. Deals moderate to high damage and a useful weapon for clearing out hordes of enemies.
- Laser Pistol: Energy weapon with high rate of fire but low damage output. Has infinite ammunition.
- Laser Sword: A ranged energy weapon that delivers arcs of beams that can decimate groups of weak targets. The blades can also be used to destroy enemy projectiles.
- M29 Infantry Assault Rifle: Automatic assault rifle with decent range, damage and fire rate overall. Useful for eliminating small to medium groups of enemies.
- Missile Silo: An automatic weapon system that fires a massive amount of projectiles at the player. It cannot be destroyed.
- P-LAH Chainsaw: A chainsaw modified for combat. Can tear weak enemies to shreds that get in its range, but not recommended for use against tough enemies. It has limited fuel, so it needs to be refueled every now and then.
- RAPTOR Sniper Rifle: A powerful ranged weapon that causes instant death to weak targets, and high damage upon tougher opponents.
- SBC Cannon: An extremely powerful weapon that fires cannonballs with extreme speed that can mow down hordes of enemies in a row.
- SOP38 Pistol: A semi-automatic special issue handgun with infinite ammunition and good rate of fire, but only useful against weak enemies due to manual rate of fire and weak damage output.
- Thompson submachine gun: Highly accurate submachine gun. Deals moderate damage to enemies.
- XL2 Lasergun: An energy weapon that fires deadly lasers with perfect accuracy. Has a slightly lower rate of fire than the minigun, but deals twice as much damage.
- XPML21 Rocket Launcher: Experimental rocket launcher that fires slow unguided rockets at the target. These rockets deal a lot of damage to a single target, or can be used to wipe out groups of weaker ones.
- XM214-A Minigun: An automatic weapon with an extremely high rate of fire, but burns through ammunition quickly.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope follows the traditional Serious Sam series of gameplay and elements such as a large arsenal of weapons and a huge number of enemies. The game is developed exclusively for virtual reality glasses with the support of motion controllers, in connection with which the gameplay is somewhat static: the player cannot move through the levels except for a few meters around them, due to the characteristics of VR devices and, as a rule, small room sizes, in which there may be a playing person present.
Like Serious Sam 2, the game takes place on several planets: Earth, Pladeon, Shaanti, Valtos, and Arcadia Minor, each with 4 stages. At the final stage of each planet is a boss fight. At the beginning of the game, the player starts on the Saratoga, where they can select which mission to begin, refill ammo and health with credits (which are collected after defeating enemies), or unlock new weapons. During gameplay, the player is given a skill tree that can unlock special abilities and improve their stats and weapons.
After selecting a level, the player finds themselves in the thematic arena and fights with waves of arriving enemies. The number of opponents is traditional for many Serious Sam games, and they include both familiar old enemies (Beheaded Kamikazes, Gnaars, etc.) and some new types, including Flying Mines and spherical bots from The Talos Principle. The player’s arsenal is numerous and includes a large number of firearms and cold arms, including a chainsaw, pistols, laser rifles, machine guns, and so on.
Health, armor and ammo no longer appear scattered throughout the levels. Instead, they appear randomly during battle, which the player can pick up to replenish ammo or a small amount of health. To compenstate for lack of armor, the player can use the Shield to block or deflect enemy projectiles. When using the shield, it acts like a force field, blocking projectiles that can be deflected back at the enemy. The shield has a cooldown period if it is used too often. The player can replenish their shield level faster with credits or pickups.
Development[edit | edit source]
The game was first announced on June 13, 2016 at E3. The announcement was accompanied by the release of a trailer, a demonstration of gameplay and interviews with Croteam employees at the PC Gaming Show and E3 Live conferences.   A demo of Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope was also presented to journalists at the exhibition site of the publishing house Devolver Digital where everyone could try out the game with virtual reality glasses. Many fans of the franchise, who expected to receive news about the continuation of the series - Serious Sam 4: Planet Badass, the announcement of an exclusive spin-off game for VR glasses was initially perceived very cool; though some felt that the development of Serious Sam 4 was once again postponed due to the new game studio, The Talos Principle.   In this regard, the developers had to release a statement in which they convinced fans that Serious Sam VR is just a small third-party project, while the company's primary goal is still the development of the fourth part. Later it was stated that only four people from the total number of studio employees   were working on a VR-game.
Almost immediately after the announcement, the game page was opened on Steam. The developers said that the game would be available in early access, and the first version was released in the summer of 2016. Over the next six months, Croteam planned to improve the project and add new planets, weapons, enemies, bosses and even more diverse content. As a mandatory technical equipment on the page in the store indicated the presence of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift helmets, as well as motion controllers. In the gameplay demonstrations, released after the E3 exhibition, mostly Egyptian locations were shown, but screenshots and concept art of some other planets, including futuristic and antique places, were also presented on the game page in the Steam store.
Some time after the announcement, the mainstream media reported that developers were offered financial dividends in exchange for the exclusiveness of the game for one platform. Croteam employee Mario Kotlar in one of the topics on the Reddit website said that the virtual reality helmet maker Oculus VR allegedly offered the Croatian team a huge amount of money in exchange for the temporary exclusivity of Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope for Oculus Rift, bypassing the owners of HTC Vive, but the developers rejected this.   The statement of the employee caused a resonance in the circles of VR-enthusiasts and was accompanied by publications in a number of informational publications. 
Soon after, representatives of Oculus made an official statement in which they denied the information on the proposed offer of the financial transaction for Croteam.  Sometime later, Croteam's technical director, Alain Ladavats, also corrected the information of his employee, commenting that the offer of financial assistance to speed up development in exchange for temporary exclusivity was indeed, but there was no complete restriction of the game for one platform.
Especially for Serious Sam VR, developers had created a working prototype of a game controller in the form of a proprietary minigun, made in full size based on a model from Serious Sam 3/ This controller is fully functional and uses motion sensors and a fire control system from the original HTC Vive controller. Lightweight construction created from readily available materials based on polyurethane tubes and construction drill; when the trigger is clamped, the shooting in the game and the rotation of the minigun shafts are simultaneously controlled. According to the developers, they created three minigun workers in total, but they were made for personal use - for their own entertainment and for advertising purposes. . A unique weapon was demonstrated at the Gamescom and EGX 2016 exhibitions, where everyone could do it with a mini-gun with their own hands, which caused great excitement among journalists and players present. 
Reception[edit | edit source]
Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope received positive reviews. The game scored 8.5 out of 10 on UploadVR, stating that "Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope combines frenetic action, testosterone-laden humor and beautiful graphics into a solid VR package that kept me coming back for more punishment. It has few minor blemishes and may not have lasting power for some gamers, but ultimately it’s one of the best VR wave shooters you can play."
The game was also featured in Rock, Paper, Shotgun's list of top 22 VR games for the PC.
Playing without VR (emulated mode)[edit | edit source]
While not officialy supported by developers, the game allows for playing without using the VR controller and headset.
The game can be forced to work in an emulated Mode by setting the launch option in Steam as +vr_strAPI "Emulated" which will allow the game to be launced without the headset. As this function is for development purposes only, some parts of the game will not work properly:
- The player is able to freerly move around using the standard movement keys (WASD) over a flat surface, walking over pits and through solid objects, this allows for walking out of bounds, though this means that enemies and homing projectiles will have no problem targeting the player.
- After walking far away from the map, the player's hitbox will eventually stop following; this is to prevent the player from killing the enemies from outside of the map.
- The player can equip weapons using the left and right Shift keys, and shoot separately using the primary and secondary fire keys like in Serious Sam 4.
- Weapons will be located in the bottom left and right corners of the screen, aimed directly at the center of the screen. However, no crosshair will be visible. Because of this, targets located in front of the player such as menu options, buttons and near enemies can be aimed at by looking up and to the left/right.
- The bow cannot be used in any way.
- The player can still use and fire the RAPTOR, but they cannot aim with it.
- The laser sword will lauch shockwaves whenever the player moves the camera or walks around.
- Tutorials for using the bow, sniper rifle and laser sword cannot be completed as there's no key binding for "Pressing Up" to continue, though they can be bypassed by restarting the wave.
- The Swamp level cannot be completed without cheats, as the only available weapon is the bow.
Despite these limitations, achievements can still be earned.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- This is the first game in the Serious Sam series to introduce shields, which serve to protect the player from incoming projectiles, apart from physical dodging.
- This is also one of the few Serious Sam games to not feature secrets.
References[edit | edit source]
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Videos[edit | edit source]
- Launch trailer: Teaser trailer for Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope.