For the past six months, PlayStation VR2 players like myself have been yearning for new reasons to boot up our headsets. And after a long wait, the VR platform is getting a much-needed infusion with two brand-new titles. It’s a cause for celebration, but a mild one; neither of PSVR2’s latest titles does much to revitalize my shock and awe for the platform six months into its life span.
The two games in question are the exclusive, Sony-published Firewall Ultra from First Contact Entertainment and Crossfire Sierra Squad from Smilegate. Both are realistic-looking military shooters, although they are different in execution. Firewall Ultra is a Rainbow Six Siege-style, squad-based multiplayer game, while Crossfire Sierra Squad taps more into the genre’s arcade roots to create VR shooting galleries.
Both games are fun VR shooters that are emblematic of the strengths and shortcomings of PlayStation VR2 games. They’re both visually impressive, but have some rough edges, lack the depth I could get out of similar console games, and aren’t pushing the boundaries of what a VR game can be. After being a PlayStation VR2 owner for six months, I’m starting to get bored with what’s on offer.
Firewall Ultra is a rebuilt version of one of the original PlayStation VR’s most popular multiplayer games, Firewall: Zero Hour. It certainly looks the part, too. Most of the time, it’s the most visually impressive game I’ve played on PlayStation VR2 since Horizon Call of the Mountain, with excellent eye-tracking and foveated rendering that ensure this is one of the most realistic-looking VR games if you’re just looking around whatever environment you’re in. And I was looking around a lot, as Firewall Ultra is an intense tactical shooter.
Firewall Ultra’s best-of-three matches task players with finding and collecting data from a laptop guarded by another team. The data must be collected, or one of the teams must be completely wiped, for a round to conclude. Tense, crowded maps and quick times for weapons to kill enemies will make this game feel quite familiar to fans of team-based tactical shooters like Rainbow Six Siege. Unfortunately, despite its easy-to-pick-up gameplay and excellent eye-tracking, Firewall Ultra is rougher around the edges than that non-VR game or even other VR shooters like Pavlov.
My experience was glitchy, as I got stuck in grenade animations and struggled to load into a multiplayer match with a friend I was in a party with. Any sense of realism goes away as soon as you see an ally’s limbs unnaturally bend or phase into their body as the Sense controllers track their movement.
Meanwhile, Crossfire Sierra Squad is built more for co-op, letting players loose in small arenas that serve as arcade-like shooting galleries for whatever forces are attacking the players in that level.
Crossfire Sierra Squad looks quite slick, matching the visual fidelity of PlayStation 4-era console shooters. Unfortunately, my time with it was plagued by a jitteriness whenever I tried to aim down sights, which I couldn’t tell if I or the game was the cause of. It’s an unambitious VR game too; I got nothing out of Crossfire Sierra Squad that I couldn’t get out of Pavlov or my current favorite VR arcade shooter Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded. As these titles are arriving half a year into the PSVR2’s life span, I was expecting a bit more from them. Unfortunately, I’m still hungry to see where the promising tech can go.
Regular PC and console games already have a problem of not knowing what to center their games around other than combat, and that’s an issue that I’ve found to be exacerbated in VR. The tech is filled with first-person shooters, and that wears thin after awhile. Games like Pavlov and Zombieland made a positive impression on me because I played them early on in my time with VR, but each new PSVR2 shooter I try has diminishing returns as they prioritize visuals over unique gameplay.
Firewall Ultra and Crossfire Sierra Squad are both fun for a few missions each, but I doubt I’ll play much more of either in the future, just as I haven’t returned to the roguelite Synapse since reviewing it. The PSVR2 experiences that have stuck with me the most are things like Demeo, Moss, Before Your Eyes, Humanity, or Another Fisherman’s Tale, which do innovative things with the unique perspective that playing in VR provides. Unfortunately, these new PSVR2 games seem more concerned with showing me another way to reload a gun in VR.
A lack of compelling new games — an issue that PSVR2 continually faces — is only worsened when what we get feels so by the numbers. I occasionally enjoy putting on a VR headset to play new or experimental games, but I’m not sticking around in those virtual worlds nearly as much as I had hoped. In such an exhilarating new gaming medium, I’ve been disappointed by the lack of innovation its latest games have shown.
The newest PSVR2 games seem more interested in visual fidelity and doubling down on what VR is known for doing best, but I’m becoming increasingly apathetic toward new VR games like that. That might satiate longtime VR players, but as someone relatively new to the medium and expecting more out of it, I’m disappointed. Looking otoward the horizon, I can only hope that games like The Foglands, Journey to Foundation, and Arizona Sunshine 2 have more inspired takes on what first-person-perspective VR games can be.
Firewall Ultra and Crossfire Sierra Squad are both available now for PlayStation VR2.