Compound’s Alpha Getting Closer to Being a Killer VR Wolfenstein

It really can’t be stressed enough that VR is still in its earliest days, so it’s appropriate that a corridor FPS would revert all the way back to Wolfenstein.  Compound is basically a reboot of the FPS, complete with flat floors and corners at an unvarying ninety degrees, all rendered with a lo-fi art style that makes the screens look straight off an early 90s PC.  The game is still very early, with the v0.0.3a update only just being released, but it feels far more solid than the tiny version number would suggest.  It probably helps that there are only two types of enemies and two weapons to choose from, but the action feels good and the one thing I thought might have been a glitch cleared up before I was able to verify.

Compound is basically what people were expecting an FPS to play like when VR came along, with a few disclaimers.  The game works with motion controllers, Vive or Rift, with the left hand for movement and items and the right for weapons.  You can move either by teleporting or by pointing the left-hand controller and pulling the trigger to walk.  The latter method works surprisingly well, and while I was braced to dive out at the first hint of motion sickness it never actually happened during my first forty minute play session.  The right hand shoots, switching between an unlimited-ammo pistol and a machine gun fed by a clip with the press of a button.  Like many VR games using the handheld controllers, Compound doesn’t resist getting fancy with the reload, and it feels nicely mechanical once you’ve got the motion down.  Use the second trigger on the left controller to change the pointer-hand icon into a clip, bring it to the empty slot on top of the gun, then click the right stick to break the rails holding the batteries (technically it’s an energy weapon using a single battery per shot) in place.  The machine gun isn’t as pinpoint-accurate as the pistol but sometimes you just need to hose down a corridor as the goons and bots come at you.

While the game is fairly short at the moment it puts up a good fight.  The map is all corridors and small rooms, connected by doors either closed or open, with the same stone walls and steel grating wherever you look.  Enemies are just smart enough to be troublesome, laying down suppressing fire when they know you’re hiding around a corner, and I’ve died a couple of times from a sneaky one hitting me from behind.  It’s hard to complain, though, seeing as it’s so incredibly satisfying to walk up behind an unaware enemy and take him out with a single shot to the back of the head.  Whether exploring interconnected areas to make sure nobody’s going to get you from behind, hiding behind the edge of an open door as bullets fly by while trying to stick the gun around the corner for a little blind-fire, or strafing and shooting in an open area when cover isn’t necessary, Compound’s action comes with a good amount of tactical options despite the game’s run & gun simplicity.   There’s a lot of work to do to turn Compound into the bigger game it’s hoping to become, but the groundwork has been laid down very well and regular updates see it growing at a steady pace.

Compound is available at and completely free in its current version.  If you’ve got the VR hardware it’s absolutely worth the download.