Vigor is a third-person survival game made by Bohemia Interactive that just came out of the Xbox One’s Early Access preview program where it’s been for over a year. This preview is based on a code supplied earlier this month, just ahead of the full release that happened on August 19th.

Vigor‘s premise is that the entire world except for Norway is irradiated. As the last bastion of humanity, the country is now home to men and women known as ‘outlanders’ who forage the abandoned towns and villages looking for resources, and occasionally killing each other to get them.

Vigor is primarily a third-person survival game, in which the player matchmakes into a map (or zone) that may have up to 11 other players roaming around. The aim is to collect gear and materials and get out through one of the preset exits before a radiation storm arrives, or before another one of the outlanders kills them. Upon exiting the map they will return to a safe hub area – a shelter where the player can take their materials and resources to buy permanent upgrades. These upgrades allow for the collection of rare currency, crafting materials, and the ability to build better weapons.

Initially, these are easily affordable and can be achieved by visiting a few shacks before making a hasty retreat. However, the costs soon rise, and not only do scavenging runs in the zone have to be longer, murdering other outlanders for their resources becomes heavily incentivized.

Tension in these instanced maps comes from the potential of losing everything collected during a run if the player is downed, and they’ll also lose any weapons and consumables they brought into the run with them. The only way to recover this gear is if the player has enough rare currency to safeguard them. Rare currency can be generated at a slow rate via the shelter (about 10 coins a day, meaning you need six days’ worth of coins to use the gear recovery feature once) or by spending real money to buy the coins.

With these stakes in mind, getting greedy and trying to overextend a run can result in losing everything, and that threat heightens the danger in every match. The weapon handling also adds to those stakes.

Clearly sharing the same pedigree as ARMA, each gun can be deadly in the right hands. However, when used by amateurs like myself, they’re as threatening as rude words — several encounters amounted to me firing wildly in a bid to scare my opponent long enough to run away from them.

One event in particular stood out as the two of us were unable to hit each other with shotgun blasts as we ran around an abandoned vehicle like some kind of macabre ring-around-the-rosie. It ended when another, more skilled player showed up and killed my opponent, forcing me to make a break for the zone exit.

It’s hard to say whether Vigor will motivate me to keep coming back for the long term. The awkwardly convincing gun combat is a treat for those motivated enough to stick with it. On the other hand, while the shelter grows in size and changes in appearance as upgrades are added, I get the feeling that each one will be the same. The ‘coming soon’ section promises customization that could give each shelter a personal touch.  

As of right now Vigor has taken a good first step, but it remains to be seen whether monetization will dominate future development choices. 

AJ Small

AJ Small

AJ Small is a games industry veteran with over 12 years of experience. He started his gaming on the BBC Microcomputer and switched to being a devout SEGA fan from then on. He currently walks the earth in search of the tastiest/seediest drinking holes as part of his attempt to tell every single person on the planet that Speedball 2 and The Chaos Engine are the greatest games ever made.

He can be found on twitter, where he welcomes screenshots of Dreamcast games and talk about Mindjack, just don’t mention that one time he was in Canada.
AJ Small

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