Building a standard dedicated multiplayer videogame is brave enough let alone when you factor in the niche install base of virtual reality (VR). Yet it’s a challenge First Contact Entertainment has readily taken on for its second title Firewall Zero Hour after launching ROM: Extraction in 2016. This time however the team will be launching exclusively for PlayStation VR, whilst implementing support for PlayStation Aim, which by first impressions looks to be going well.
Firewall Zero Hour is a four-versus-four, tactical multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS) that the studio had on display during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018, taking up a significant portion on the PlayStation booth.
Fully integrated with the PlayStation Aim controller, the military style of gameplay perfectly suits the peripheral, feeling natural and instantly accessible. Apart from learning the extensive button layout of the controller the dual stick movement control was sharp and precise enough that you could take the entire experience seriously, focusing on achieving the singular objective.
Currently First Contact Entertainment has only revealed the one gameplay mode/mission, where you either defend or attack. There’s no all-out warfare here, this is about working as a group to achieve the goal of either hacking or preventing the hack of an important laptop. Set inside a relatively uninspiring office building with a couple of floors to explore the objectives are easy to find thanks to an augmented reality (AR) style HUD – so there’s no getting lost.
Before getting that far however there’s a loadout to choose. Again this is pretty much a painting by numbers design with one character your standard infantry assault rifle type, another with a penchant for shotguns and so on. As such these loadouts also come with a selection of secondary gear like smoke grenades, frag grenades and other useful kit.
So far so relatively unremarkable, there’s nothing on the surface that most gamers haven’t come across in some fashion, even in VR. Yet Firewall Zero Hour is enormously good fun as soon as it all gets started. Like any team-based multiplayer cooperation and coordination are key, with the experience making good use of the PlayStation VR microphone – although all three VRFocus players could hear each other the fourth player’s mic was a little patchy.
A neat little feature was the inclusion of a wrist mounted map allowing the position of the team to be seen as well as enemies that were within range. This helped with team positioning when defending as you were able to tell who was covering where.
The demo only lasted long enough to showcase each round, both took around 10 minutes apiece – although times are obviously dependant on a number of factors – keeping gameplay short, sharp and intense. The studio has previously said it wanted to create a slower, more strategic experience. While the latter was true Firewall Zero Hour never felt that slow, but it does need more. While First Contact Entertainment has yet to say how big Firewall Zero Hour will eventually be hopefully there will be other levels and modes that’ll expand its core gameplay as the screenshots seem to indicate.
This first playtest was a good showpiece for First Contact Entertainment’s second VR title, offering a refined and highly entertaining experience. This likely wouldn’t be the case if Firewall Zero Hour didn’t support PlayStation Aim as DualShock 4 just doesn’t aid that same level of immersion for this type of videogame. Firewall Zero Hour is a bold move on the studio’s part and one that VRFocus is looking forward to seeing come to fruition.