Thousands of VR enthusiasts are able to play one of the most popular first-person shooters in virtual reality because a young college student had a vision. After dropping out of college, Dante Buckley spent the next year building his game, Onward, and in August 2016 it was released on Steam Early Access. His studio, Downpour Interactive, has continued to grow ever since. The game was an immediate success among new headset owners and there have been opportunities for casual play, competitive play, and community-building events all centered around the game that started with a college student’s dream to move forward with his life in the field of game development.
Onward is a mil-sim tactical multiplayer shooter with numerous maps, a large variety of weapons, and objective-based game modes set in infantry style combat. There are solo and cooperative modes. Competitive matches are 5 v 5. Stylistically it has been compared to Call of Duty and even Rainbow Six: Siege, but of course Onward offers the appeal of immersive gameplay and presence, which is only available in virtual reality.
Today Onward has over 1600 reviews on the Oculus store, nearly 4,000 reviews on Steam and 90% of those are “positive.” Reviewers have made comments such as the fact that Onward is an “awesome game if you like teamwork and tactics.” One reviewer, Trigger_Trim, stated that seeing “other players as they move their arms, heads and point toward objectives, pull out their weapons, duck, crouch, and go prone” makes you feel like “you’re really in this battlefield with these other people from around the world.”
In fact, Onward actually has one of the most active worldwide player bases that includes casual and competitive players.
VR Master League Season 9
Oculus released the Rift in March 2016 and Onward was released later that summer. By early 2017, it was obvious that players needed some sort of structured community where they could form teams, organize competitive matches, etc.
It was at that point that DaKinMan formed the VR Master League, a community-driven platform designed to provide unique competitive experiences for VR players.
Onward was the first game featured in this new league and season 1 took place in early 2017. As new players began to try the game, the number of players in the league quickly expanded.
- Season 1 - 2017: 24
- Season 2 – 2017: 104
- Season 3 – 2017: 139
- Season 4 – 2018: 190
- Season 5 – 2018: 242
- Season 6 – 2018: 280
- Season 7 – 2019: 327
- Season 8 – 2019: 355
Season 9 begins on Monday, January 20, and currently there are 421 players signed up, including reservists. New players or teams are welcome to join at any point during the season.
The VR Master League website maintains a list of teams that are currently recruiting or players can sign up for an account (which is free) and create a new team.
To find out more about VR Master League or sign up for Onward Season 9, visit the VRML website.
Onward has an active community that supports the game and has encouraged the growth demonstrated in the numbers listed above. There are VR Master League admins, casters, a community manager, veteran players who take time to teach new players tactics, and more.
Community activities for Onward can be easily followed on the Onward Official Discord as well as the VR Master League Discord. The community is quite active on Twitter as well, and community members frequently attend VR and esports events like Dreamhack Atlanta and NiceOne Barcelona. to meet their friends and teammates as well as introduce new players to the game they love.
What's to Come
Dante Buckley continues to develop Onward with his team at Downpour Interactive. They're currently working on a port to the Oculus Quest, and updates and new content are regularly being added to Onward.
Stay tuned to the VR League for the latest developments and updates on the progress of Onward and be sure to watch VRLeague.GG to keep up with the progress of your favorite teams in Onward VR Master League Season 9!