Battlezone is one of only a handful of full priced launch titles for Sony’s PlayStation VR that goes beyond a short “VR Experience” and delivers something that you can spend a substantial amount of time with.
First launched by Atari way back in 1980, Battlezone has always been about putting players in control of massive futuristic tanks. Although we have come a long way from the simple line art of the original, the high level concept is still the same. Rebellion have done an incredible job of perfectly capturing the 80’s vision of the future and mashing it with the arcade experience. Essentially recreating what us 80’s kids dreamed our gaming future would be like.
While Battlezone would technically have worked without VR, it is the VR experience that makes it worth shelling out for. As a seated experience, donning on your VR headset plonks you into the cockpit of a giant tank, well almost. You are in fact placed inside in a virtual cockpit, I kind of VR inception. You always stay in the same one cockpit but it is able to project you into any tank in any battle so you can control it.
As you look around the cockpit you are met with incredible 80’s retro sci-fi nostalgia. In the same way Alien Isolation captured the vision of the 70’s future, Battlezone captures the 80’s with its big chunky monitors, switches, neon locations and heavy militaristic metal finishes.
The windows of the cockpit are actually massive screens, when they engage they open up to show you the battlefield. The maps are simple yet can at times be stunningly beautiful, it is also at this time that you get an idea of the sheer scale of the tank itself. This is where VR comes into its own. You really do feel like you are in the cockpit, that you are controlling the tanks with all the sense of weight and movement that comes with it. Looking down the barrel of the gun or over the sides as you pass down the corridor of the hanger never gets old.
The game itself is nice and basic, the tactical map is split up into hexes with each hex a new area to explore. These locations might be empty spaces free from enemies, they might hold supply points where you can buy and swap out your weapon loadout, but more likely than not it holds an encounter with a bunch of enemies. Every time you start a new game the hex map is randomly generated which can lead to massive spikes in difficulty levels beyond your abilities or tank upgrades. But at all times if one hex is too difficult you can retreat and chose a new more favorable path.
There are only a few mission types however, mainly you attack the enemy base, you protect your own base, you hack the enemy intel points, you protect a convoy, or some mix of these. There is nothing new or surprising here, it is simple and intuitive stuff that suits PSVR’s style of being easy to pick up and play.
Winning missions earns data (cash) which can be spent on extra lives, weapon or shield upgrades. Each purchase drives up the price of the next purchase so it can take time to build up your tank. You can buy extra lives to try prolong the inevitable but once you die it is all lost and you start again in true arcade fashion. There are options to play some online co-op with friends that is a lot more fun than the solo campaign.
Overall: Due to the limited number of full VR titles available at launch, Battlezone finds itself near the top of the list as one of the better ones. It is easy to pick up and play and does a great job of creating that arcade VR experience we all dreamed of as kids. However it is lacking in content to keep you playing long term, but if you are looking for something right now that is more than a tech demo or VR experience then you are in short supply. Better games will come hopefully in the future but for now I am having a lot of fun in my VR hover tank.Please Join us on your Social Platform of choice