One clear way to determine the popularity and potential influence of any video game is to see how it’s selling at the major online retailers. In late January and early February 2022, the Steam sales charts saw a high-ranking entrant that may have surprised many gamers, developers, and industry pundits alike. After all, it’s not often a VR game beats out conventional PC games and potentially pushes the VR gaming community to new levels of growth.
The Dawn of Zenith
After a roaringly successful Kickstarter campaign brought in more than $280,000 and fully funded the project in just four hours, Zenith: The Last City was developed by Ramen VR to be an immersive cyberpunk-styled MMORPG. Upon its release at the end of January 2022, Zenith quickly ascended the Steam charts – as well as the obviously VR-only Meta Quest (née Oculus Store) charts – to beat out mega-popular titles like God of War and Monster Hunter Rise. Purchased by so many gamers that its servers briefly crumbled under the log-in requests, Zenith became the first VR game in recent memory (perhaps ever) to rank first in US sales.
Likened to World of Warcraft in virtual reality, Zenith: The Last City thrusts the player into a massive virtual fantasy world populated by mages, swordfighters, paladins, and fuzzy little creatures with a wide range of purposes, desires, and capabilities (among many other entities). Zenith allows players a depth of experience largely unseen in VR gaming.
Run, Walk, Fly, Fight, Live
From its broad combat system and freedom of movement – running, flying, and zip-lining are all available and necessary – to its inclusion of guild formation, community building, pet raising, and even meal preparation, Zenith seems to have combined all the components necessary to simulate a real existence, only here in a futuristic sword-and-sorcery genre.
Such expansive and comprehensive VR worlds are only rising in significance. As Meta attempts to draw us all into participating in a collective virtual substitute (or enhancement) or our everyday existence, games that utilize such environments will become all the more desirable and all the more accomplished.