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Preview: Shadow of the Colossus Meets Skyrim In Skydance's BEHEMOTH

A new fantasy epic is heading to VR, and it's a big one.
Preview: Shadow of the Colossus Meets Skyrim In Skydance's BEHEMOTH
Skydance Games

There’s a growing hunger for gritty, fantasy worlds to explore in VR, and for the PSVR2 specifically there’s a desire to see just what the headset is capable of. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of ambitious studios ready to answer the call, Skydance Games being one of them. This time, the American studio is thinking big with their upcoming title Skydance's BEHEMOTH. No strangers to virtual reality, Skydance previously helmed the success of VR shooter The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners. Now, the studio seems ready to offer players a new and unique experience, trading in zombies and guns for marauders and swords.

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Welcome to the Forsaken Lands. (Picture: Skydance Games)

For the purposes of the preview, a few things were adjusted in order to make my adventure a little more streamlined for my hour-long hands-on. For starters, I had fewer enemies to contend with than what will be available at launch. This was probably for the best, as it had never been clearer that I am a writer, not a warrior — but more on that later. 

I began my trek through Skydance's BEHEMOTH in a frozen biome, littered with ruins and perilous obstacles. Players assume the role of a cursed warrior who has found themselves in the Forsaken Lands, inches from death, and tasked with the hunt and culling of the deadly Behemoths. After spending a few brief moments getting adjusted and taking in the virtual space, I picked up a sword and set down my path into the unknown. A few barriers gave me a chance to practice swinging my sword and getting the actions right before I was put in front of real foes. It also gave me my first glimpse into the game’s interactivity, and just how much effort has gone into ensuring players feel every swing of their weapon. You’ll have one sword that’ll be your main utensil of choice throughout, but you’ll pick up shields, a grappling hook, and more to contend with enemies and the environment. 

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The Grappling Hook is a girl's best friend. (Picture: Skydance Games)

Traversal absolutely feels like you’re getting a work out, and has been designed to offer a more tactile experience than your typical RPG. There are walls to hoist yourself over, ropes to climb up and slide down, and gaps to cross through brachiation. It takes some time to unlearn years of sedentary gaming muscle memory, but after a few attempts I felt like a parkour master. Where I felt less successful, however, was in combat. 

I’ve always found melee combat to be tricky in VR — it relies a lot on my natural, physical timing, and a few hopes and prayers that I don’t succumb to motion sickness. Thankfully, the latter didn’t occur while playing Skydance's BEHEMOTH and a selection of comfort settings allowed me to stay in the fight for longer. However, I fumbled the controls more times than I’d care to admit. I dropped my sword on the floor, took a few hits to the noggin, and emerged from fights with only my pride partially intact. Sword fighting isn’t in my future, it seems.

For the bulk of combat, you’ll be learning how to dodge attacks, getting your hits in where you can. Parrying is key, and successfully countering an enemy will leave them vulnerable to attacks. Most of the early mobs faced out in the open are your typical marauders, armed with swords or bows.

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While you'll have your staple sword, you can utilise nearby axes and other weapons. (Picture: Skydance Games)

Some areas feel almost like arenas, with enemies situated on the ground or on top of walls. You’ll need to use the environment not only to reach them, but also as a way to dispatch them. For example, using your trusty grappling hook to pull down precarious structures and squash your foes beneath them. It all acts to offer players a lot more freedom in their combat, should they be dextrous enough to pull it off. 

Where players are really put through their paces are in boss fights. During the demo there were two different boss fights I had to deal with. The first was a 1v1 with a marauder leader; a bit bigger and tougher than your usual grunt. By the skin of my teeth I managed to parry and slash my way out of this encounter, but it was in no way easy. The second boss fight, however, was the big one. A behemoth of one, if you will. Fully living up to its title, the demo reached its pinnacle by having me face off against the Seal Behemoth. While I won’t go into any details on how my fight went with this Behemoth (just know that I died a lot), it’s worth mentioning the sheer scale of these monstrous creatures.

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He's a big 'un. (Picture: Skydance Games)

I first got a glimpse of the Seal Behemoth earlier on in the demo, from a distance, which was already enough to get a sense of just how big this monster was. I shyly asked if I’d have to fight it, to which the dev team in the room laughed and said “Oh, absolutely!” I looked at the little sword in my right hand, sighed, and trudged down the path to meet my maker. I was told that this Behemoth wasn’t even the biggest in the game. Terrifying. It was undeniably impressive, looking up at this gigantic creature in VR and knowing that I’ll need to use everything I’ve learned so far to even make a dent in it. But aside from knowledge, I also needed stamina. Turns out taking down giant nightmare creatures is taxing work, and luckily Skydance kept this in mind. 

Given that I died a few times throughout my run, I was relieved that plenty of save points and checkpoints had been included. These appeared as large stones placed throughout the map, which you need to approach and lay both hands on in order to save. Other than ensuring I didn’t lose too much progress, it also meant that it would have been easy to play the game in short bursts — a welcome addition to combat the physical toll long VR sessions tend to take on players. It helps facilitate steady progression with the ultimate goal of enabling more players to reach the end of the game. Not always an easy task in VR. 

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(Picture: Skydance Games)

If you’re on the hunt for a worthwhile RPG for the PSV2 then Skydance’s BEHEMOTH is shaping up to be just that. There’s plenty of interactivity through combat, traversal, and even crafting, all of which encourages players to absorb themselves into the moment. Personally, I’m excited - if petrified - to see just what other monstrous Behemoths lie in wait in the full game. Really, how big can they be? 

Skydance's BEHEMOTH is set to launch in Fall 2024 for PSVR 2, PCVR, Meta Quest 2 and Meta Quest 3. Catch the gameplay reveal trailer here