Ace VR stealth ’em up Budget Cuts budged back again

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I had a little VR party on the day I got my Vive, and my guests all regarded the Budget Cuts demo as the highlight. That’s partly because it felt slick and stylish in a way that hasn’t been matched by anything I’ve tried since, but mostly because watching VR newbies fail to sneak past robots is the most fun you can have with a pair of cyber goggles. I still vividly remember one friend getting so startled that he froze rock solid, spent a second doing terrified jazz hands, then crumpled straight to the floor. It might have been the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

The full version of Budget Cuts was originally meant to come out “soon” after that demo did back in 2016. Then it was meant to come out at the start of this month, and then it was meant to come out today. Turns out it’s actually (well, probably) going to come out in “approximately 1-2 weeks”, because developers Neat Corporation aren’t quite happy with it yet.

Part of what makes Budget Cuts work so well is how it sidesteps the problem of VR movement – by treating teleportation as a central mechanic rather than awkwardly tacking it on. One button fires a blob from a gun in your non-dominant hand, then another button whisks you off to wherever it lands. You get to see what your perspective will be once you teleport, which makes each jump feel seamless rather than jarring. There’s also the way stealth is a a genre that seems at home in VR, which makes the lack of similar games surprising.

Neat Corp broke the bad news yesterday in a Reddit post.

“Long story short – we were pretty late in properly optimizing Budget Cuts, thinking we wouldn’t need as much time as we actually did. The optimizations we implemented in this final stretch, while useful, ended up not helping as much as we had hoped. We thought our initial delay of two weeks would be enough, but even throughout these last few days, working into the night and firing on all cylinders to get performance up, we’re still not hitting an acceptable and consistent framerate. We were too optimistic, and we’re very sorry about that :(“

Neat Corp are, perhaps sensibly, not setting another firm release date just yet: “I’d like to say we’re releasing soon, but that meant 2.5 years last time we used that term, so I’m going to say “in 5 minutes” which should mean approximately 1-2 weeks. Will it take longer? Maybe, maybe not.” I’ll leave you to pick over the rest of the post yourselves, where the dev goes over specific technical hurdles that my brain refuses to absorb.

Ah, it’ll be worth the wait. Here’s the latest trailer, though note that I don’t think it shows the game off as well as this one from a few years back.

6 Comments

  1. Excors says:

    I like the bit where you’re tempted to kneel down and look through a hole in the floor to see if there are any enemies waiting below, and even when you’re consciously aware that you’re in your living room and wearing a bulky headset, your subconscious fully buys into the illusion and makes you headbutt your floor.

  2. Eraysor says:

    I too have fallen victim to slamming my face and Vive into the floor as a result of this game

  3. grimdanfango says:

    I’m rather glad I’ve avoided early versions or much press until now. Looking forward to going into this fresh… and headbutting the floor :-P
    How much playspace is optimal / how much can you get away with? I’ve got about 2x3m.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      I’m in exactly the same boat: excited about going in fresh and headbutting the floor, but stuck with “only” 2×3 metres in which to do that.

      Well, I’m guessing that’ll be plenty, judging by my time with Superhot, but I’m curious now it’s been asked – headbutting speakers instead sounds like it could be a more impactful experience.

    • Excors says:

      I have about that much space and, if I remember correctly from the demo, it was fine. Large movement used teleportation, and small movement was usually either stepping into a doorway to throw knives at robots or panicking and trying to crouch behind a nearby desk, so it didn’t require a lot of real-world horizontal movement. But there was quite a lot of crouching and kneeling, either to hide or to move through tight spaces, so it’s good to have a soft carpet and young knees.

  4. FredSaberhagen says:

    Super confused here. I thought this was a valve 1p game. They hired that 14 year old that made it and had a bunch of dudes working on it (even zachtronics for a hot minute). When did it spin off or w/e? Anyways this could be it – VR’s killer app, the game that gets me to find and dust off the vive, clean up my garage, set up the base stations, update the firmware, tape down the cables and interface box, and… ah fuck it

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