When Firewall Ultra was announced for the PS VR2, I had high hopes that it would be a game-changer for VR shooting experiences. After all, its predecessor, Firewall: Zero Hour, impressed players with its gameplay despite using less impressive technology. With the addition of eye-tracking, Sense controllers, and foveated rendering, I expected Firewall Ultra to take multiplayer VR shooting to new heights. However, my optimism quickly turned to disappointment upon playing the game.
While Firewall Ultra does showcase some of the PS VR2’s features, such as the OLED display and 3D audio spatialization, it falls short of being the revolutionary title I had hoped for. The game suffers from slow progression that often feels more punishing than rewarding, clunky controls that rely heavily on eye-tracking and feel unnatural, and a lack of content overall. At best, Firewall Ultra is merely a competent sequel.
The Nauseating Menu
From the moment I booted up Firewall Ultra, I was confronted with a nauseating menu interface that relies entirely on eye-tracking. Unfortunately, there is no option to disable this feature in favor of a simpler pointing and clicking system. As someone with VR experience, I found navigating the menu to be uncomfortably disorienting, especially during the first few hours of gameplay. This is particularly frustrating because the menu is where essential tasks like character setup and match joining take place.
A Comprehensive Tutorial Zone
Prior to the disorienting menu, players are taken through a comprehensive tutorial zone. This area includes shooting ranges and drills that help players become familiar with the game’s controls. However, while the tutorial is helpful in terms of learning the basics, it lacks a proper campaign mode to provide a more immersive experience. Once you’re ready to leave the tutorial, you’ll find yourself back in the confusing menu interface.
Meat on the Bones
Despite its shortcomings, Firewall Ultra does offer some enjoyable multiplayer gameplay. The Contracts mode is the game’s main focus and pits two teams of four players against each other in a cat-and-mouse style game. One team defends an access point while the other tries to breach their defenses. The mode is well-crafted and allows players to customize their loadouts with various skills, characters, weapons, and equipment. However, the progression system is slow and restrictive, making it difficult to unlock new items and abilities without a significant time investment or the use of microtransactions.
The PvE Mode
In addition to the Contracts mode, Firewall Ultra introduces a player-vs-environment mode called Exfil. In this mode, four players must capture three different points on a map while AI-controlled enemies spawn in waves. Although Exfil doesn’t offer significant rewards in terms of currency or experience points, it serves as a good way to familiarize yourself with the game’s controls and maps.
Dynamic and Asymmetric Maps
One of the highlights of Firewall Ultra is its collection of eight diverse maps. Each map is carefully designed to create dynamic and asymmetric gameplay, forcing teams to adapt their strategies and work together to achieve victory. Maps like Crossroads and Social utilize unique layouts and obstacles, creating intense and thrilling VR shootouts. The addition of darkness, flashlights, and security cameras adds depth to the gameplay and encourages communication and teamwork.
Firewall Ultra makes excellent use of the PS VR2’s OLED display, Pulse 3D audio, and controller haptics. The environments are intricately designed, and the weapons feel satisfying to use with realistic muzzle flashes and sound design. However, the character models are a weak point in the game’s presentation.
In conclusion, Firewall Ultra falls short of its potential to be a groundbreaking VR shooter. Despite its utilization of certain PS VR2 features and its engaging multiplayer gameplay, the game is hindered by issues such as a disorienting menu, slow progression, and limited content. While it is still a competent sequel to Firewall: Zero Hour, it fails to live up to my initial optimism and leaves much to be desired.