Bullet Train: Epic’s New VR FPS Demo

Tinseltown is awash with virtual stars this week, thanks to the Oculus Connect event. Hatsune Miku has pressed her hands into virtual concrete on Hollywood Boulevard, Palmer Luckey is delighting tourists outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with his levitation, and Epic Games have unveiled a new Unreal Engine 4 VR tech demo.

Named Bullet Train, it’s an idea for a first-person shooter using Oculus Rift or Gear VR cybergoggles along with the Oculus Touch handheld motion controllers. And… look, I know I’m a decrepit cane-waving VR sceptic to you, but I swear it looks like a fancier version of Dactyl Nightmare. See:

Right? So it’s an FPS where you point your hands to shoot people, aye? Yes, it’s all very flashy, but it’s… it looks like a nice demo to wow people as you put a sweaty television on their heads and let their chums giggle at them waving their hands, but… it’s not something worth expensive hardware, is it. I understand we’re still in relatively early days for semi-practical home cybergoggles and people are still figuring out how to use VR, but this is straight out the ’90s. Only with teleporting rather than walking.

It sounds more exciting when Epic say it in their own words:

“Staying true to form, Epic puts you in the middle of the action: Use motion controls in the role of an agent undergoing an infiltration simulation set inside a modern train station. Master the art of teleportation, time manipulation, and close-quarters combat to blast through resistance forces. Thanks to Unreal Engine technology and the Oculus Touch motion controllers, you can physically interact with an array of weapons, from guns to grenades to missiles, and even feel them through haptic feedback.”

At least Dactyl Nightmare had multiplayer:


  1. Clavus says:

    The hands-on description sounds pretty great though: link to vrfocus.com

  2. AyeBraine says:

    What should a VR FPS do exactly then, to NOT be from the 90s? Force you to weave your guns and body from air via gestures, and make every trigger squeeze a three-dimensional puzzle? The idea of manually aiming guns using VR and 3D-controllers is already very familiar, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be implemented simply because people have talked about it for some time.

    • Awesomeclaw says:

      I think oen of the main issues that we’ve got this fancy new tech with fancy new interactiveness and we’re using it to create exactly the same kinds of games that we already have. Why have a gun in each hand? Why not ski poles in a cool skiing simulator? Why not a VR ribbon dancing game? Why not an iron-man style flying game where your hands are jets?

      • Unclepauly says:

        Because the kids wont to shot stuff. That is all.

      • HopeHubris says:

        Okay, that Iron Man one sounds pretty cool, but I’ve definitely seen skiing games, sticks and all, at arcades and stuff before.

  3. Behrditz says:

    Halo is just a fancier version of Wizardry. Why do they even make this shit anymore? Give up.

    Dont worry, im sure soon someone will make a vr text adventure about anthropomorphic houses that eat trees as a brilliant exploration of what it means to be a transgender teen in the american school system and we can all gush over it and call it art.

    • Karomsir says:

      Hehe! I like smart people. Have a cookie! :D

    • HuvaaKoodia says:

      Personally I’m waiting for the VR immersive simulators to hit the scene. Something similar to Deus Ex and/or System Shock set in a VR environment would sell me the idea and hardware.

    • Holysheep says:

      Thank you sir.

  4. gi_ty says:

    Alice there is a difference between skepticism and derision. You seem to be leaning far more towards the latter. Maybe someone who is actually excited about V.R. could report on it instead?

    • The_invalid says:

      Oh no, because having just one gaming site be negative towards VR for a change just won’t do now, will it? Nice patronising tone there too bud.

  5. Raoul Duke says:

    “I swear it looks like a fancier version of Dactyl Nightmare.”

    What I don’t understand is why this is supposed to be a bad thing. The problem with early vr was the crap hardware, not that the concept was bad.

  6. Sam says:

    This “swivel chair” based VR continues to unimpress. Mostly standing still, with awkward teleportation based movement surely collapses down the possibility space of a traditional first person shooter too far to be mechanically interesting.

    Of course this is just a demo game, but there’s not much sign of doing effective things outside of sitting simulators. I don’t mean the term derisively, I think flight simulators especially will be excellent. But it’s still showing a worryingly limited scope.

    Valve’s VR and to an extent Microsoft’s AR give me much more interest. Being able to create the sense of meaningfully being in a place (even with harsh restrictions on that place’s size) is very powerful. I can easily imagine something like Silent Hills’ PT set within a room. My personal favourite is walking around looking down on a game world and being able to reach in and poke it. RTSs that feel like the best tabletop game ever made; god-game sandboxes without getting sand and tiny people in your carpets; the possibilities are strong. But you need to basically have a holodeck set up in your house, which is not terribly practical.

    In summary, support government-led house building projects so that we can all afford to have space for holodecks.

    • Martel says:

      I vote we cut out the middle man and support goverment-led holodeck building projects. Who needs a fancy house when you have virtual reality?

    • frogmanalien says:

      It’s interesting that a lot of novel mechanics are coming out to get around the limitations of VR – although time will tell what works and what doesn’t – I suspect (from the description and videos I’ve seen) that teleporting is a rather lame option and doesn’t really excite me. Games that keep you in a single room, restricted in a vehicle, etc. could be a lot of fun (imagine the Last Express level detail, still confined to a small amount of space) – but I suspect most traditional game concepts won’t come across directly to VR very well (FPS’s are out, top down strategy board games are in; third person adventure games out, physical puzzle piece games are in, etc) – whether that’s a good thing or not doesn’t really matter since both will likely live side-by-side.

      I personally don’t hold much hope for a £1200 investment for new players making this a big enough industry to succeed- even the big announcements (Netflix backing, Facebook’s massive investment/VR News trials etc.) don’t strike me as making it more feasible – until it’s as cheap as a smart phone (and, perhaps replaces a smart phone) it seems like a tough sell.

  7. tolomea says:

    I don’t care about the 3d / hand waving stuff. But something about that train station feels much more like a real train station than any train station I can recall from any other game. I would like that in my games.

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    Oakreef says:

    I might not be the most intellectual or original idea in the world but TBH I’d be pretty pumped to play VR Time Crisis.

  9. jezcentral says:

    I saw this and thought, “I can’t wait until Epic share the assets for this.”