PlayStation VR has been represented by a wide variety of genre’s but first-person shooters is one I was waiting to see more from. Sure we have some on the platform but they are usually games that mix first-person shooting with other elements like survival or other genres. If you’ve been wanting a great multiplayer first-person shooter I’m pleased to tell you that one has finally arrived and it’s called Firewall Zero Hour. Developed by First Contact Entertainment, Firewall Zero Hour is a multiplayer, team-based, first-person shooter that demands every PlayStation VR owners attention.
If I was to compare Firewall Zero Hour to another shooter I would say it most resembles a game like Rainbow Six: Siege or Counter Strike: Global Offensive. It’s a 4V4 shooter that demands you communicate and play well as a team in order to succeed. You can play it with either the Dualshock 4 or the PlayStation VR Aim controller which, in my opinion, is the best way to experience this game. If you choose to use the Dualshock 4, you’ll have to move it around and hold it as if you were using it to aim your weapon and it just didn’t feel natural at all to me like the Aim controller did.
You can jump into a multiplayer match right away if you choose but I’d recommend checking out the Solo Training or Co-op Training modes first to get your bearings. You’ll either play against bots by yourself in Solo or with others online in the co-op mode as you learn the basic controls and mechanics of the game. Once you’re comfortable there it’s off to the Online Contracts mode where you’ll join in on 4V4 matches where one team attacks and the other defends. The matches are five minutes long and if you are an attacker you’ll be needing to hack points around the map in order to locate a laptop. This laptop has intel that your team needs to steal in order to win. The people on the other team are of course trying to defend said laptop. This is a one life only mode so die and you’re out. If you go down your teammates can revive you but if the other team fully kills you that’s it for you in that match. However what’s cool is that you can and should still help your team. You can do this by looking over the map and letting your teammates know where the enemies might be. This can be critical to helping your team win and I really liked how you could still help out even when not alive.
So with only one mode you might be thinking that this would get old very fast but surprisingly that hasn’t been the case in my opinion. The way this game feels in VR makes it very addictive and easy to keep playing round after round. In fact, it’s downright magical how the shooting in Firewall feels and how it’s unlike any other first-person shooter I’ve ever played. The things I was able to do in this game were unlike anything I could do while playing a shooter on a flat screen. For instance, if you know an enemy is just around the corner from you, then you can just hold the gun out and spray around the corner in order to shoot them without even having to look. It doesn’t sound like much but when you actually have that headset on and that aim controller in your hands, it actually feels like you are in an actual shootout.
Something else that helps the game from feeling repetitive are the maps of which there are 9 of at launch. Each one is pretty different from the next and are made up of multiple stories, lots of corners to approach with caution, and long hallways for bullets to fly down. Each map allows for different strategies and you’ll need to learn them to really excel at the game. One map is full of containers and it’s easy to get ambushed by the other team who could be inside them or on top of them. Staying with your team at all times is really critical at succeeding.
Everything you do while playing the game earns you some XP and Crypto, the in-game currency. XP is used to level up and doing so unlocks tons of things like new guns, abilities, attachments for your guns and you then use the Crypto to buy what you want. There’s a lot here to earn so it will take a lot of gameplay hours to get it all. I do think that the amount of money and XP you earn could use a little bit of tweaking as I feel like even after playing a lot I still didn’t have enough to even unlock one gun. Granted you don’t want everyone to unlock everything right away but as it is right now it feels just a little bit unbalanced.
I mentioned there are abilities that you can unlock and those tie into the 12 different operators you can choose to play as. Each one has their own look, little backstory, and their own abilities. One can take more bullet damage while another is better at detecting enemies. Unlocking those other abilities with crypto allows you to further customize each of them.
Something I could see people worrying about with a game like this is the player pool but I can say that it has been pretty active over the course of launch week. I was able to get into matches pretty quickly whenever I searched but of course I can’t vouch for how it will be in the future. The community has been great so far with all of my teammates usually communicating well and everyone seemed to be enjoying the game. The developers have promised plenty of future updates so I have confidence you won’t have issues finding people to play with in the near future. The game isn’t without issues though I’m afraid and one of those pertain to playing with friends. If you party up with a group of friends but end up in a lobby that isn’t full yet you’ll find the game splits your party up up and may put your friends on the other team. This needs to be addressed but it’s not the only thing. The game runs on a peer-to-peer connection so if the host quits then everyone is kicked and sent back to the menu. While I only had this happen to me a couple times while playing the game really needs either dedicated servers or host migration to make sure this doesn’t happen at all.
Another thing that is slightly annoying is the downtime between matches. You see once you get into a lobby you have to wait around a minute for the game to start, watch a load screen, and then play the match. Once the match is over you then hit another loading screen before being put back in a lobby to start over again. I feel like the matches need to consist of more than one round to help with not having to return to the lobby so quickly. I mean there were some matches where we would start and wipe out the enemy team right away and then had to wait several more minutes to get another match started. Hopefully this is something we see addressed not too long from now.
As far as how Firewall Zero Hour looks and sounds, it’s great in both areas. It’s not the prettiest VR game but I think everything looked pretty good overall whether it was the character models, guns, or the maps themselves. Sound design is great too and it’s actually a big part of the game. Thanks to the 3D audio of the PlayStation VR you can tell where the enemy team is by listening a lot of times for the sound of their footsteps. While you can talk to your teammates you don’t have to worry about the other team hearing the chat audio though. The last thing thing I want to mention is the trophy list and it’s going to be quite a grind to earn the Platinum here.
Despite the criticisms I have with Firewall Zero Hour currently, they don’t take away from just how magical this VR shooter is. I feel like this is the best reason to own a PlayStation VR headset yet as it really shows how pre-established genres can be given new life in ways not possible while playing on a traditional screen. I love the community this game has already built and I’ll be staying apart of it for the foreseeable future. Go buy a PlayStation VR, buy an Aim Controller, and buy Firewall Zero Hour because it’s too darn good to miss out on.
*Firewall: Zero Hour is out now on PlayStation VR. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy purchased by the reviewer. See this review and all of our VR reviews on vrgamecritic.com