Asgard's Wrath II review: A game-changer for VR?

This massive mythological RPG gives us VR action on an epic scale
A hero fights monsters with sword and shield in Asgard's Wrath II
Fight the ferocious monsters of Egypt in Asgard's Wrath II
Meta Studios / Sanzaru Games
Stuart Andrews2 minutes ago

Meta’s flagship fantasy adventure looks to set new standards for console-free VR. The most ambitious game we’ve seen on one of Meta’s Quest headsets, it’s a massive game in every sense, packing in dozens of hours of exploration and combat, in a mythological saga that sees you taking on gods, monsters and giants from both the Norse and Egyptian pantheons. And where many other VR hits are cut-down experiences or existing hits retooled to work with a VR headset and controllers, Asgard’s Wrath II has been built specifically to make the most of what’s unique about VR, resulting in a game that couldn’t be played any other way.

The action picks up where the first Asgard’s Wrath left off. You once again take on the role of a would-be demigod, the Guardian, able to possess heroic mortals to help both you and them achieve your aims. You’ve unwittingly enabled the evil trickster god, Loki, escaped his cosmic prison, and it’s now your fate to follow him to ancient Egypt, and stop him making trouble with the aid of his Egyptian counterpart, Set.


A warrior with shield and whip-sword battles giant scorpions in Asgard's Wrath II
Monsters get intimidating when they seem to be inches from your face
Meta Studios/Sanzaru Games

It’s not long before you’re standing in the sandals of your first possessed hero, Abraxas, a rebellious tomb robber well-equipped for a life of death-defying feats and fighting monsters. Using the Quest 2 or 3’s motion-sensitive controllers, you can roam around the mysterious chambers beneath the Temple of Atum, looting treasure, dodging traps and taking on Set’s minions with your sword and axe. 

It’s the physicality of the action that makes Asgard’s Wrath II so compelling. Put your right hand to your belt, squeeze the grab trigger, and you’ll have your axe in hand. You can hurl it at enemies, switches or targets, then summon it back with another flick and grab.

As for your sword, you’ll soon grow adept at slashes, thrusts and parries, using that last move to block your opponent’s attack and then counter with a blow to a flashing weak point. Your sword seems to respond to every motion captured by the Quest 3’s controller, and while the speed and relaxed timing stack early battles in your favour, you soon need to grow more skillful and fight more aggressively if you want to survive an onslaught from monsters ganging up.

The giant hands of the guardian move man-sized flasks in an Asgards Wrath II puzzle
Take on your Guardian form to solve puzzles on a larger scale
Meta Studios / Sanzaru Games

In between the fighting, the game throws in ingenious puzzles to mix things up, not to mention stretches where you’ll need to navigate platforms, clamber handhold by handhold up ancient walls, and run across the walls to cross treacherous gaps. Early door and puzzle traps make way for more sophisticated efforts, where you’ll use your magic axe to manipulate sliding switches with one hand while trying to pair up hooks and retainers with another. It can be one thing working out a solution, quite another to bring it to reality.

Gods and monsters

Best of all are the ‘god scale’ puzzles, which will see you switching between your mortal hero and your gigantic Guardian form, using the latter to move vast objects, open gates and raise platforms, enabling the hero to get to new areas that would otherwise be out of reach. Over time these grow more and more complex, and all the more satisfying when you work them out. What’s more, the effect looks epic, as you zoom out from the mortal perspective so that what previously looked like a huge hall full of statues now looks tiny, with your hero the size of an action figure, waiting to see what you’ll do next. 

More importantly, the game never stops developing. First shapeshifting companions are introduced, doubling as a comrade in arms to help you in battle, and as a mount when you need to get around fast. Then new weapons come into play, with shields you can use to block and bash your enemies, and a cool extending whip-sword that also works as a grappling hook. With the help of a growing gang of displaced deities, you can craft new upgrades to your arms and armour, search for resources and ingredients and even cook your own meals. And if you fancy taking a break for a spot of fishing or some weird godly mini-games, Asgard’s Wrath 2 is very happy to accommodate you.

Fighting with bow and arrow in Asgard's Wrath II
New heroes take you to new worlds while changing up the weapons that you wield
Meta/Sanzaru Games

Then, after over a dozen hours of action, just as most VR games would be winding up for the finale, Asgard’s Wrath 2 reminds you that Abraxas is just the first of the game’s four heroes, and that you’ve still got five more epic chapters to get through. Playing as Cyrene, the water naiad, adds new weapons and mechanics, while later heroes the elf Alvida and the undead scribe, Djehuty, bring archery and magic to the mix, along with new companions to win over and new worlds to explore.

There’s something really alarming about being surrounded by Set’s snarling mummified minions or a bunch of zombie swordsmen, especially when their blades seem to swing by inches from your nose

It’s this scale that makes Asgard’s Wrath 2 such an exciting proposition. It can’t offer the same depth or detail as big console RPGs like The Witcher III or Elden Ring, and its free-roaming areas can feel barren and repetitive compared to the rich open worlds of those games. Yet each chapter and each mission brings new adventures, challenges and twists on the formula, and as an experience it’s incredibly immersive. Though the visuals aren’t always amazing, with murky textures by modern console standards, the ancient architecture provides some spectacular vistas, along with a surprisingly strong sense of being there.

In the thick of the action

In fact, there’s something really alarming about being surrounded by Set’s snarling mummified minions or a bunch of zombie swordsmen, especially when their blades seem to swing by inches from your nose. The same goes when you’re dashing through spike traps and razer-edged pendulums on the way to the next burial chamber. It might not have the cinematic looks of a God of War, but Asgard’s Wrath 2 can be just as visceral and thrilling in its own way.  

Just be aware that this level of immersion sometimes comes at a cost; even as a VR veteran, I found the motion and the action overwhelming after an hour or so of play. Still, at least taking a break gives you a chance to recharge the Quest 3’s battery, which runs dry within two hours of starting up the game.

Fighting as Djehuty in Asgard's Wrath II
The undead scribe, Djehuty, uses sorcery instead of sword
Meta/Sanzaru Games

Is Asgard’s Wrath 2 the game-changer Meta thinks it is? I’m not sure. Its visuals, worlds and gameplay can seem dated by comparison to the biggest RPGs and action games on console and PC. Yet in the way that it combines the almost physical sensation of playing in VR with a genuinely huge and gripping adventure, it creates its own unique experience; one that’s every bit as compelling, with hooks that’ll keep you coming back for hour after hour. It’s not quite the ultimate VR adventure – the equivalent of a Legend of Zelda or The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim – but it shows where VR might be heading and feels like a landmark on the way.