It seems that VR shooters just can't seem to get their names to stand out, as following on from Bravo Team we have Firewall Zero Hour from First Contact Entertainment, a PSVR shooter that's just landed on our laps. With the battlefield calling once more, we suited up, donned the PSVR headset once again, and headed into Firewall Aim Controller in hand to see whether this shooter is a direct hit or misses the mark entirely.
You might remember the Aim Controller from Farpoint, the excellent PSVR shooter from last year, and if you've played that game you'll know just how immersive it is. It's shaped loosely like an assault rifle and maps all the existing PS4 buttons into easy-to-find places on the back and front, and as a result, it fits perfectly with Firewall. To be clear, you can also use the DualShock 4 and point it at your foes like you would a gun, but it's really at it's best with the Aim.
In fact, the whole button layout for the game is easy and accessible, meaning that newcomers can easily find their feet after the tutorial and a few rounds spent in the thick of things. Equipment like grenades, C4, and mines lie on two buttons behind the left stick (with a throwing arc to help you aim them) and of course shooting works much as you'd expect, using the trigger. There are other prompts like square to reload, X to open doors, and everything feels natural very quickly.
The 4v4 matches themselves are simple in premise too: one team defends a data point while the other side tries to get to it and hack it. It's pretty much a mixture between CS:GO and Siege, since it's objective based and requires attackers to breach the area and access a specific point while the defenders work to push them back. Oh, and you only get one life, so tactics are important to make sure you don't rush in and die.
There are a number of maps to choose from, all of which are varied and have their own unique identity both in terms of layout and appearance. Office, for instance, is the home of a trendy social media company and has bright furniture and logos everywhere, while District takes us to the Middle East for a slightly gritty experience with some low lighting. Knowing these maps is half the battle, as it is with any tactical shooter, and they play a key role in how each match plays out.
Prepare to be waiting in lobbies a lot in Firewall though, because matches are quite short and you'll find yourself out of action just as much as you are in battle. There's plenty of things to customise in terms of your loadout and character, but there's only so much to do before you resort to just waving your gun around to get your avatar to make funny poses.
Mechanically-speaking the gunfights in Firewall are solid, and the accessibility of everything helps make this a very tight shooter. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of the refined Rainbow Six: Siege, but with breaching, immersive shooting, and tense moments waiting for an enemy to come around the corner at any second, it's built upon the same appeal as Ubisoft's game.
The arsenal at your disposal is the usual mix of automatic weapons, shotguns, and the like, and helps ensure that loadouts are as important as you'd expect them to be. There are also pistols, and all of these firearms feel satisfying to use in-game, especially since landing the shots is reliant on your own aim rather than how well you can use a controller, which ups the satisfaction if you succeed.
On top of that, the UI is really clear, providing a map on your in-game wrist to check the lay of the land while all of your teammates are marked with bright outlines so you can see their positions too. With small maps and tight spaces to navigate, this all helps make teamwork easier for those who want to be super tactical, although you're still welcome to run around like a maverick instead too... it just might not go very well.
Connection for the most part was solid, and we found matches relatively quickly, so there was no fuss getting into a game. Oddly enough we actually only experienced what the game referred to as 'network crashes' during the single-player content, i.e. the tutorial and solo runs against AI, which threw us back to the main menu. Those were the only hiccups we saw though, even if they were relatively frequent.
Firewall Zero Hour is very simple in terms of what it offers, and with one game mode and no single-player story this might not keep every shooter fan hooked for hours, but what it does offer is solid and mechanically sound. There's something immersive about holding the Aim Controller and having it appear as a weapon in your in-game hands, and First Contact has found a way to convert that into the multiplayer space. With so many VR shooters already out there, Firewall has breached and cleared its way into the genre to make a name for itself, and it's worth a try if you're looking for a VR game with a bit more intensity.