PlayStation VR has come a long way since its launch roughly 2 years ago. Along with the advent of the PlayStation Aim controller, shooter VR experiences are becoming even more immersive. Now Firewall Zero Hour is here to offer its take on team-based ballistic combat action.
Firewall Zero Hour Details
Platform: PlayStation VR
Developer: First Contact Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: First-person shooter
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Time to squad up
Firewall Zero Hour is primarily an online multiplayer experience. Teams of four take each other on via online matchmaking in 4v4 “Contracts”. The objective naturally is to eliminate the opposition and/or complete objectives to win the game.
Teamwork is paramount to success, so if you aren’t the type to communicate, you may not have much to offer your teammates. In my first matchmaking experience, I was put on a team of players who were very familiar with each other. It was clear that our team’s success was due in large part to the level of discussion and strategy among them.
Communication is key
Working methodically like a real world combat team, our maneuvers were thorough and effective. Squad mates would scout, watch flanks, and clear rooms in perfect sync with each other. When one team member called for support in the form of smoke, another team member was in perfect position and immediately responsive.
Ultimately this experience was keenly realistic. With a team working together as well as a real world squad might, the VR experience of Firewall Zero Hour felt eerily immersive in a great way.
This effect is easily lost however. With a contrasting team of players who don’t wish to communicate or work together, my experiences were much less fruitful. Lone wolfs in Firewall Zero Hour are easily picked off in order by teams who embrace a co-operative strategy.
Feels like the real world
The environments in Firewall Zero Hour are very easy to lose yourself in. Even with the lower resolution of the PlayStation VR vs. regular console gaming, the realism is impressive.
In one scenario I was moving around an expensive home. The attention to detail and VR immersion really made it feel like I was touring around somebody’s private residence. In another scenario, a teammate actually remarked over his mic “Wow, this is exactly like the training facilities we use in the army”. I definitely believe it, and I’m happy to take his word on the authenticity of the experience based on his career as a soldier.
Watch your aim
Unfortunately the one thing that did bring me out of the experience a bit was my weapon. To be sure, holding the PlayStation Aim controller is leaps above using a regular controller for a realistic feeling. Nevertheless, aiming the controller felt a little off for me.
In order to get a proper bead on your opponent, you almost have to hold the gun perpendicular to your chest. Its not ideal when it feels more natural to hold the PlayStation Aim at a more parallel angle with your body turning slightly sideways. However the PlayStation VR rig did not seem to track the gun as well in this position.
Instead I often found myself shooting wide left this way, even though my own senses were telling me I was aiming straight. The only consistently reliable solution seems to be to ensure you are facing shoulders square and gun forward.
This is a shame because I know both the PlayStation VR and PlayStation Aim can perform better. I did not ever experience this issue in Farpoint for example—another great game that makes use of the PlayStation Aim.
Conversely, on thing Firewall Zero Hour do do very well is movement. The left stick controls forward/backward movement and strafing. These movements are smooth and fluid.
Meanwhile, the right stick controls turning. Instead of the same constant camera panning however, turning is done in incremental shifts. This greatly reduces the amount of nausea and motion sickness players are likely to experience.
You also move at a medium pace. Not so fast as to feel ill, but also not so slow that the game is frustrating. It’s a great balance of mitigating motion sickness without sacrificing gameplay.
I can be prone to a bit of VR sickness myself. Luckily I was able to play Firewall Zero Hour for at least an hour in one session without any major effects. I did feel a little bit of disorientation once I took off my VR rig, but not so much while actually playing.
Prepare to get friendly
Sadly there is no single player campaign or similar component to Firewall Zero Hour. The game is built almost entirely around competitive multiplayer. You’ll want either some good friends or an outgoing matchmaking personality if you hope to get a lot of value of of the game.
That said, the servers are still seemingly quite populous. I never had an issue finding a match, and I get the sense that there is a strong community of enthusiasts behind the game. The developer is also vocal about more updates and new maps coming down the pipe over time.
Firewall Zero Hour does have a training mode where players can compete against AI bots however. This mode is great for learning how to play or working on your aim, but it doesn’t really substitute for actual gameplay. If playing solo, you’ll be on your own (no AI teammates), so the overall competitive aspects aren’t really present here.
Firewall Zero Hour is a unique shooter experience on PlayStation VR
Even considering the few aspects of criticism I can note about Firewall Zero Hour, it’s still undeniably one of the elite shooter experiences on PlayStation VR. Its use of the PlayStation Aim controller along with immersive environments make for some thrilling gameplay. If you have a squad that commits, it’s also an incredible example of multiplayer VR done right.
It’s too bad that there isn’t more solo content to the game, but for as long as the community stays as active as it is currently, it’s a solidly fun time. If it would track the PlayStation Aim controller just a little better, it could potentially be among the best PlayStation VR titles overall, certainly in the multiplayer or shooter genres.
+ Immersive VR experience
+ Fun and competitive multiplayer gameplay
+ Movement feels great for VR
– Very little solo content
– Controller tracking feels slightly awkward
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FIREWALL ZERO HOUR
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5