Multiplayer shooter fans have no shortage of choices in VR. Quite simply, it's a type of game that translates perfectly to the medium. But few shooters are as full-featured and well-supported by the community as Contractors, which has fully embraced mod culture on the native Quest 2 version of the game.
Not only that, but Contractors is a seriously visually impressive game, sporting large, complex environments, full-body IK physics simulation, realistic gun models, and more authentic aiming and shooting than most other VR shooters. All of these add up to the reasons why we've named it our first Oculus Quest 2 (opens in new tab) game of the week.
Lots of games on the Quest, in particular, go for simplistic art styles and tend to keep environments and rooms relatively small. While there are a number of notable exceptions to that — Population: One (opens in new tab), for example — Contractors doesn't attempt to dumb down much of anything at all.
That all starts with the visuals, which you'll notice are a step up from the average Quest game the moment you first power it on. A player's entire body is fully rendered, and even the skin has what appears to be noticeable pores on the forearms. The environments, too, seem to be more detailed than what most Quest games deliver, and the game even appears sharper than other games thanks to a high-resolution output.
You can customize many aspects of the UI and even turn off the full-body IK models, leaving only your hands and any items or weapons attached to your belt. There are several modifications for viewing to help players find a good comfort level, and even clever communication options like the push-to-talk mic, which is an optional setting that requires players to press and hold the walkie-talkie mounted on the collarbone to talk.
You can even jump, which is something so many VR games simply don't offer. It sounds silly to single this out as a defining feature, but it's an amazing piece of the puzzle that helps the game feel more complete.
The biggest downsides here are the lack of locomotion options — there's only smooth joystick movement, but you can opt for snapping or smooth turning — and the fact that character customization is mostly nonexistent.
Going big by starting little
Aside from the inordinate amount of thought that went into building basic gameplay elements, Contractors' developers Caveman Game Studio also added plenty of great little unique characteristics into the game. Things like playing basketball while you're waiting to respawn in the zombie survival mode and having an open practice area where anyone can readily walk in and chat are brilliant, organic elements of game design.
They also ensured that the game was built in a modular fashion in order to spur community input. Sure, Caveman Game Studio has updated the game and added tons of weapons, maps, and even new modes in the few years Contractors has been in development, but they also let the community do what it does best: mod the heck out of things.
Taking a quick look at the mod.io page (opens in new tab) for Contractors shows you just how many player-created maps there are. As of this writing, there are 193 maps that can be played on the Quest version of the game, and a further 16 that are only available through the PC version.
But here's the real kicker: you don't need to go on this website and follow some sort of convoluted series of steps just to play custom maps. It's all built right into the game and is readily accessible from the main menu. Tap that mods button, scroll through the nearly 200 maps available (and growing), and hit download. That's it.
But these aren't just some junky side project maps that someone cooked up over a weekend. Many maps are impressively accurate recreations — and sometimes even straight model imports — from many of the best multiplayer shooters (opens in new tab) in history. Maps from Call of Duty games like Modern Warfare and the Black Ops series are here alongside fantasy maps from games like Star Wars Battlefront. There are also plenty of silly maps, like Bikini Bottom from Spongebob Squarepants or some of those fun "mouse" levels where you're a tiny player in a common room in a house.
It's this aspect that was immediately impressive to me and remains impressive even after hours of playing. Most games just don't offer this kind of community-driven functionality outside of Steam Workshop on a PC and, even then, that's an extra series of steps you'd have to take over what Contractors offers in the native menu.
Likewise, Caveman Game Studio has added several new game modes over the past three or so years since the game debuted on the PC. While modern combat has been the bread and butter of the game for some time, recent updates have added a World War II mode complete with realistic weaponry and special WW2-themed maps.
If that wasn't enough, there's even a ninja loadout to play that'll have everyone wearing a "traditional" ninja costume complete with a katana, kunai, and a bow to quickly launch arrows at opponents. Furthermore, the latest update just introduced a zombie survival mode (opens in new tab) that sees up to four other players surviving waves of zombie hordes and cashing in for better weapons and perks along the way.
Room for improvement
If I were to say anything was missing from the game at all, it would be persistent perks. Another multiplayer shooter we loved that just recently launched, Alvo, sets itself apart by being the only major Quest game with these kinds of Call of Duty-style perks you can earn as you play. Contractors offers them in the zombie mode but, even then, those reset every time you start a new play session.
Having some more long-term rewards would really help keep players coming back to improve themselves instead of just chasing leaderboards. I think this could also be built into a proper character creator, which should include not only cosmetic items but also basics like skin color selection.
Contractors is worth a shot
All in all, Contractors is the most complete military multiplayer shooter I've played on Quest — even if it's not as realistic as something like Onward — and has been added to my list of regularly played VR games in recent weeks. If you're a shooter junkie and haven't tried Contractors yet, it's high time you give it a shot. I really doubt you'll be disappointed.
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