A couple of years ago, "Among Us" seemed to be all anyone was talking about. The mobile app made gameplay accessible, other popular games were ripping it off, and the term "sus" entered the world’s collective lexicon. Then, like all fads, it seemed to drift away. The game is still somewhat popular, and you won’t find it difficult to find a game — but "Among Us" isn’t the hype monster it was at launch.
That could soon change as a VR version of the impostor spotting phenomenon has just launched as "Among Us VR." It’s available on PCVR, Meta Quest 2, and Meta Quest Pro headsets. Although "Among Us" is far from the most demanding VR game on the market, it isn’t available for the original Quest headset — which may be further evidence of Meta’s plans to phase it out completely. For those unfamiliar with the game, up to ten players are in a spaceship and each player has a different colored avatar which makes them easy to identify.
Some of the players are "impostors" who have to kill the "crew members" and sabotage the ship. The "crew members" have a list of tasks to complete, and must finish them before they all end up dead. Crew members aren’t completely defenseless, as they can call meetings and vote to kick suspected impostors off the ship. Guess right and an imposter is shoved out of the airlock. Guess wrong and they lose a valuable good guy. Impostors can win by convincing crew members to turn on each other, and that path to victory is arguably more satisfying than a well-planned killing spree.
This isn’t the first VR version of Among Us
"Among Us" has technically been in VR for a long time. It’s one of the many game modes available in VR Chat, and the VR Chat version functions moderately well. The official full-fledged VR version is far better though. For a start, everyone’s avatars are the same size, so you don’t get annoying players taking up half a room or LARPing as Ant Man. The controls are simpler in the official version, and despite a handful of bugs, it is a lot more stable than its VR Chat counterpart.
If you really enjoy the VR Chat version of "Among Us," switching to the official, standalone, game is well worth the $10. The mechanics are more polished, getting into a game is less of a hassle, and despite some teething issues, everything is more stable than in the unofficial version. The downside is, you will have fewer skills to choose from. But that might change over time.
The game is a great candidate for VR
In terms of raw gameplay, "Among Us" seems ideal for VR. The controls are limited to the thumbsticks and a trigger and you can only really see what is happening in front of you. Killing people makes a loud sound, so theoretically a truly talented player could murder someone behind you and hide in a vent or something before you turned around. Most of the time though, they will get spotted. This brings us to the next reason "Among Us VR" is a good idea: you can actually talk.
The worst part of the mobile app was the frantic typing you had to do to avoid being blasted out of the airlock or to make a case for another player being thrown into the void. In VR, that’s replaced by shouting. If you’re shy, this could make the name a no-go.
There isn’t a text-based alternative to talking. You can either voice your opinions or frantically point towards someone, but the latter is "pretty sus." You can also talk as the game goes on, or even scream out the name of the person running up to you with evil intentions. The sound only carries across the room you’re in though, so don’t expect anyone on the other side of the ship to hear your last words.
VR sickness is also a consideration. You can further constrict your field of view by setting the game to blur the sides of the screen while you’re moving, but you need what little peripheral vision you have. This game isn’t the most uncomfortable VR experience available, but it isn’t for absolute beginners either. Build up your VR legs if you want to last more than a round or two.
It’s a very small file
This may be something that is overlooked, but the whole game is only a few hundred kilobytes in size. It’s absolutely tiny — which means it will download almost instantly and take up a negligible amount of room on your headset. If you’re using an older headset with less storage, or you have plentiful storage but it is so rammed you have to delete things to update, "Among Us" shouldn’t cause you any worries. It takes up less room than some games’ save files.
Looking at the game as things stand, it is pretty limited — so there’s a good chance some updates will happen in the future. However, given how most assets are the same, a couple of extra maps and some hats would still see it come in under a megabyte. In a world where apps like "Vader Immortal" have to be uninstalled and worked back in when you want to give a friend a standout VR experience, we need more apps like "Among Us."
The game is currently limited to one map
The most obvious limitation of the VR port is the lack of maps available. The only map you’ll see is the "original" spaceship-based map with the canteen in the center and the other parts of the ship surrounding it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s arguably the best map in the old game and will be familiar enough to ease people into the VR version. However, there is a risk that the single setting available will become boring after a while.
There are also very few customization options, and those are basically limited to hats. Roles aren’t a thing either, so if you enjoy playing a shapeshifter, you’ll have to avoid the VR game for now. Similarly, if someone vents they can’t use the "engineer" excuse.
This could of course change in the future, with extra maps being added to make the game more appealing, or possibly coming as paid DLC. The app-based version of the game currently has four maps available and has been continuously evolving since the game first launched. Other things, like new roles and cosmetic items, have also been added to older versions of the game. If the VR version gets the same treatment, it is likely to change drastically in the coming months. As for the in-game mini-map, that can be dragged to the top or bottom of the screen. It’s quite irritating and gets in the way at first, but you eventually get used to it.
Some of the tasks are a bit different
An impostor has the most exciting role in the game, but crewmembers don’t just sit there twiddling their thumbs until they get murdered. There are a variety of tasks the crew has to complete if they want to win the game, and those tasks also give the impostors plenty of opportunity to pick a crew member or two off. Some of the VR tasks are recognizable, some are completely missing, and others have been modified to the point they seem like an entirely new task. Everything gets its own VR twist though.
Among the tasks is a game of "Whack-a-Mole," a "Simon Says"-like reactor game, and a navigation task that requires you to fly the ship, sort of. None of the tasks are particularly complicated, they’re mainly there to distract you for a few seconds. Some do require a bit of timing though, and the "Simon Says" game occasionally registers an incorrect button press, which is frustrating. A couple of games are also outright boring — like the one where you just hit buttons in order. That’s it. They’re not meant to be hard, but some seem like they were just dropped in there at the last minute because the developers were a game or two short. When your tasks are done, the map in admin is there for you to stare at, but don’t expect to waste time looking at the security cameras. Those don’t work in VR.
There were a few day one bugs
Part of what has given the game a rushed-out feel is the number of bugs present on launch. Some are purely visual and fairly mild. Player names can be their actual username or an anonymous name that matches their avatar’s color — or at least, that’s the idea. The anonymous names don’t always match up with their colors, for now.
A more obvious bug involves a player’s hands floating behind, below, or several yards away from their bodies. Other bugs were a bit more annoying. The game’s North American servers seemed to be having issues on launch day. The first game I played was okay, the second was with nine unnamed, very quiet, people, and after that, it was just me hosting a game, alone, forever. This problem was solved easily enough, I just hopped on the European servers and everything was okay from that point.
A more serious bug involved one or more players being completely invisible. In the game where I encountered this bug, the invisible player was also the impostor and capable of killing players in front of everyone without being spotted.
Two innocent crewmembers were thrown out of the airlock before we spotted there was a player on the list who wasn’t visible in the room. We worked around the bug by immediately kicking the invisible player at the start of the next round. He was an impostor that time too and it left me — the other impostor — on my own against around eight other players. So it wasn’t ideal, from my point of view anyway.
The game isn’t a total vacuum
"Among Us" may be set in space, but there is still plenty of atmosphere to be found. You’ll occasionally spot something that makes you go "oh that’s a nice touch" and it all adds up to make the game a slightly better experience. Power cuts, a common form of sabotage, give a lot of atmosphere to the ship.
The dark has more of an impact on you in VR, and the limited view you get with the lights out will make another character popping up out of nowhere more of a worry. If you’re an impostor, "venting" is also better in VR. You can still use the vents as a shortcut — but hiding in one, peeking through the grill, and picking the right moment to pop out and slice a crewmate in two, is genuinely exciting. Mess it up and you’ll be caught red-handed. Time it right and you’ll be back in the vent and potentially getting ready for victim number two.
Then there’s life after death. Ghosts of crewmates can still complete their tasks, and ghosts of impostors are free to help their remaining comrades by sabotaging the ship. Ghost mode also has the most atmosphere. The big screen in the center of the cafeteria is smashed when you’re dead, and the voices of the living sound muffled. You can chat away with other ghosts, but there aren’t any Ouija boards so those who are still alive won’t be able to hear you.
It’s pretty solid with the right group
Online games can be hit and miss. If you end up in a game with a couple of griefers or a bunch of folks that don’t know what they’re doing, then you’re in for a bad time. On the flip side, the right group of people playing online games can produce some of the best experiences in gaming. "Among Us VR" is no different.
If you’re in a bad group or the game host is a megalomaniac, then you’re better off quitting and joining another lobby. If you get lucky, fun times will be had and people will be congratulating their new friends on how well they’ve just stabbed them in the back.
It’s also the same finger-pointing fun "Among Us" has always been. You end up with stories to tell based on your experiences, which is always a sign a game is pretty good. There was one round where six players were left, three of us trusted each other, and one impostor remained. One of our group of three ended up dead, and one of the two we didn’t trust called a meeting without finding the body. Yellow, the meeting caller, talked himself into a hole and was promptly ejected.
Unfortunately, this left me, my one remaining compatriot, and the actual impostor who chased me around a table for about a minute until the game ended due to a ghost-based sabotage my crewmate couldn’t counter alone. We lost but had great fun doing it. In another game, someone started having some kind of breakdown because we didn’t believe their theory about Yellow working with the one remaining Impostor.
The microtransactions are there too
You’ll pay $10 for the basic game, and if you want a few more headgear options you can pay an additional $4 for a small number of hats and a plague mask. This was present in the original game and is something I wouldn’t recommend given the tiny amount of content on offer and the fact it’s not really going to positively impact gameplay. If anything, you want to look as inconspicuous as a cycloptic-colored blob can be.
If you’re lime, there’s an off chance you can shift the blame onto the green character. The chances are slim, but it’s also possible to cause similar confusion with cyan and blue, or pink and purple. If you’re the only character in a top hat or the only one dressed as a renaissance medicine man, you immediately become a lot more distinctive.
Yes, it’s only $4 and the game is already cheap, but you get a minuscule amount of content for it. Five additional hats for around 40% of the game’s overall price. It’s really so meager it makes the worst, most opportunistic, Sims expansions look generous. This is just the start, there will undoubtedly be more microtransactions to come as the game expands, but it’s not a part of the game I can endorse if I want to sleep soundly at night.
Ignoring the microtransactions, the game is worth the money. I’ve had far worse times for $10, and things will only get better when the bugs are fixed and more content is added. "Among Us VR’s" current condition does have a bit of a rushed-out feel about it, and maybe the developers were trying to get it on the market before a bunch of people unbox their new headsets on Christmas morning.
With this in mind, waiting a month or two for the bugs to be ironed out and more content to be added is understandable, but once again it’s less than the price of a sandwich. It’s also sort of worth it for the social interaction. The game forces you to chat, lie, banter, and develop a rapport with people so there’s one less person who wants to push you out into space. After one evening playing "Among Us" I’ve added more friends to my list than I’d previously acquired in three years of Quest-based online gaming.
There are certain people who would just be wasting their money. As mentioned, original quest users will miss out unless they buy the PC version and play via Airlink. If you haven’t got your VR legs yet, you may want to give it a pass. It’s online only, so if the majority of your VR use is offline you won’t be able to play. And if the idea of talking to other people with your real voice puts you off, this game isn’t for you. Everyone else should give it a try though. And if you bump into me on the ship, remember I’m on your side and you can believe every word I say.