It seems that VR shooters have a bit of a tendency to opt for generic names, as following on from Bravo Team we have the upcoming Firewall Zero Hour, another shooter using the Aim controller that we got to try out at a recent PSVR showcase event in London, placing four of us in a team against another four people to test out the multiplayer action.
The premise of the game is a little bit like Rainbow Six: Siege in that one team are attackers looking to get in and access the files on a laptop (at least in the mode we played) and another team are defenders looking to shoot pieces out of anyone trying to get close to the hardware. As is often the case with VR though, things are a lot simpler, so it's not about breaching or destructible environments or anything like that - you'll have to use doors like us regular Joes here.
We started off as the attackers and immediately went to town thinking we could run rogue and kill everyone ourselves, but that wasn't the case. Teamwork most certainly makes the dream work here, as the house we were infiltrating was small enough that once you encountered one defender, a ton of them came rushing to their aid. Staying close is vital, as is covering your backside then, all of which is a lot easier said than done.
When we were defenders we thought things were significantly easier. Being holed up in one place and waiting for hostiles to arrive is a lot simpler than taking a fortified location, and as long as you cover all angles you're pretty much good to go. Like in Siege you can also control cameras when you die, and so if you're good at communicating you can make callouts to your allies and let them know where your enemies are.
As mentioned, we played using the Aim controller, and while DualShock 4 will be available to use, we can imagine Aim is the most immersive experience. Everything was simple here, whether it be crouching using circle or turning with the analog stick in our right hand. FPS players will no doubt get the hang of this pretty easily, and with a microphone hooked up you'll find yourself easily fitting into that rhythm of the game, from communicating with teammates to finding the objective; it all feels natural in terms of format and structure.
What didn't always feel natural however was the shooting. Criticisms have been leveled at the Move and Aim controllers in the past for their tracking, and we felt something was a little off here too. When we lined our sights up to where we thought the red dot should be, it actually wasn't close, and we had to hold the Aim controller instead at a slightly off angle to get it feeling more accurate in-game, which actually made it harder to hit anything. It didn't feel like an easy way to shoot, despite the ease of access in the rest of the controls department.
We enjoyed the fact that it was easy to switch between first and secondary weapons using triangle though, and that by holding the trigger in our left hand we could see an arc that showed us where we could throw grenades, and boy was it satisfying when we chucked a grenade through an open window and heard the screams from inside, let us tell you.
It's worth mentioning that there are different contractors (who would be called operators or characters elsewhere) each with their own backstories, nationalities, and special abilities. While we didn't get to see these abilities in action, they should help distinguish one character from another and hopefully spice up the action up a bit. Either way though, it was nice to be able to pick from a selection.
We also got the choice of loadouts too, one of which was your standard one with an assault rifle; another for close-quarters that had a shotgun; and a third stealthier option for those who didn't want to cause a ruckus from the start. These options actually diversified things a lot, as we had a much better time getting accurate shots with the assault rifle and suffered a lot when using the shotgun, as our position meant we were firing down at attackers in a courtyard, not getting the desired damage thanks to the spray of our firearm. This is all old news to FPS veterans, but it's worth mentioning that it does actually make a dramatic difference.
Upping the immersion level significantly is the use of VR. We were standing up when we played Firewall, and so had the manoeuvrability to make use of the walls and environmental features such as using tables as cover, so despite having less of the bells and whistles of a standard PC/console shooter, you do feel like you're in the action when the bullets come raining down and you need to protect yourself. There's tons of open space and plenty of viewpoints as well, so if you're not careful you can easily find yourself out in the open and in a spot of bother.
All in all the gunplay was the only thing holding us back from thinking this could be a pretty interesting VR shooter. It wasn't quite as satisfying or as accurate as we would've liked, especially for a game that places so much emphasis on realistic tactics. That said, with its accessible controls, camera feature, tight and controlled maps, and simple objectives, the potential is still definitely there for Firewall Zero Hero to deliver a decent VR shooter experience.
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