As a whole, first-person shooters have not changed much mechanically over the last 5-10 years. In almost every single game in the genre, you aim down the sights, fire from the hip, and move on to the next area, though there might be some subtle differences occasionally. While the two biggest multiplayer FPS series on the market, Battlefield and Call of Duty, vary when it comes to the overall scope of the game, such as Battlefield‘s gigantic maps or CoD‘s smaller faster-paced action, mechanically they are pretty similar. It might be time for a change.
That isn’t to say that I want that type of gameplay to completely go away. It will always be there: trust me, I love Battlefield and I can’t wait to jump into Battlefield V this November, especially now that they have tweaked the game to provide a more tactical experience. I just think that there is finally a way to play an FPS that isn’t like anything on the market right now: that way is virtual reality.
I truly believe that VR is the way of the future when it comes to just about everything entertainment. It has the potential to provide what just staring at a TV can’t. Why Skype with someone when you could virtually put yourself in the same room as someone? Why watch an NBA game on TV when you can virtually put yourself in the arena? Finally, why play a first-person shooter when you can put yourself into a first-person shooter?
I just recently reviewed Firewall: Zero Hour — developed by First Contact Entertainment — and I couldn’t contain my smile while playing it. It is a tactical FPS that is very reminiscent of Rainbow Six Siege and is only available in PSVR. The game is currently sitting on Metacritic with a rating of 79; however, I truly believe the score would be much higher if some fixable issues, such as only having one match and kicking you back to the lobby, long wait times, and the lack of host migration, were not present. These issues seem to have been the main point of concern for most that have played the game, and after a recent AMA on r/PSVR, the developers have acknowledged the issues and are taking action. Aside from these issues — which have mostly been fixed with a few updates — Firewall could be the first VR title to break into a whole entire new style of first-person shooters.
The tactical shooter plays exactly how anyone would expect a VR FPS would: put on the headset, pick up the awkward-looking aim controller, and just point and shoot. There is a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to movement, but other than that, it’s as simple as aiming at an enemy and pulling the trigger. However, this simple aspect alone can separate VR shooters from your typical Battlefield or Call of Duty. Since the headset and aim controller can track your movements incredibly well, players are left with a huge amount of opportunities that cannot be found in other FPS experiences.
For example, during my playtime when I was reviewing Firewall, I had cornered an enemy into a small room where the only way out was where they came in. I didn’t have any flash grenades or frags left, so I just knew that the other player was behind the wall with his reticle right on the doorway. I quickly pondered my options and a theoretical lightbulb flicked on in my head. I scooted my way up to the entrance of the room, literally stuck my arms out, pointed the gun in the doorway, and unloaded a clip until I killed the enemy.
Yes, blind-firing like this isn’t exactly new to games; practically every third person shooter has this mechanic. However, because the game didn’t necessarily say that I could do this, it leads me to believe that there are a plethora of different possibilities out there to play around with while playing a first-person shooter in VR. In the recent Battlefield games, you are able to lean around corners to shoot, but, the way you do it is not very fluid compared to Rainbow Six Siege that allows you to lean left or right while aiming with a click of the left or right stick. I always thought leaning was an awesome addition to FPS games and that they should be in every game from now on. I just think that it will be difficult to come up with some other actions that can change up the normal mechanics in a first-person shooter.
Comparing this to the ways that I saw FPS gameplay in VR with Firewall, the possibilities are endless. You are no longer shackled to the crosshairs in the middle of your screen anymore. If someone is laying down fire from behind, just point your gun behind you and start shooting.
You will be surprised what could happen: I have at least two kills in Firewall because I just randomly pointed my gun in the direction I started to get shot at. If there might be an enemy behind a doorway, you can literally poke your head around the corner to take a peak. I would even hold my gun sideways like I was Snake in Metal Gear Solid 4 as I felt it was easier to aim down the sight and because, c’mon: who else doesn’t want to be like Snake? The number of actions available might be endless thanks to motion controls (that is something I never thought I would say) and a VR headset.
Firewall: Zero Hour made me feel something that I haven’t felt in a multiplayer shooter since the original Halo or Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, two games that redefined the genre. I might be overstepping here, but I really believe that what the game accomplishes with FPS gameplay in VR could lead to something big or groundbreaking; people just need to experience it. After showing a couple friends and family members the game, they have all asked how much a VR unit was and how they could start playing. Virtual Reality might be a bit pricey, but it could possibly redefine the FPS genre.