Hands-on: Arizona Sunshine – LB VR Edition

Vertigo Games' location-based zombie shooter delivers a bite-sized experience.

After announcing its intention to deliver a more arcade focused experience for commercial customers earlier this year, Vertigo Games went about developing its virtual reality (VR) shooter Arizona Sunshine into a shorter, more location friendly version. The first iteration of this was shown at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) 2018, with a very basic demo that involved one location and endless waves of the undead stumbling about. At Gamescom 2018 this week the team has showcased the very latest version, improving on its predecessor massively.

For the Gamescom demo Vertigo Games didn’t use the Hardlight Suit, StrikerVR gun, Oculus Rift headset, or Amimon wireless kit. Instead there was the HTC Vive Pro, a couple of Vive Trackers attached to guns and the new Vive Wireless Adaptor. Alongside the new hardware was an updated gameplay experience that fully utilised the 6m x 6m space the studio had for the demo.

Able to demo up to four people at once – although for VRFocus’ gameplay only two were in use – the videogame took place inside a missile silo. Working together it was a case of holding back the zombie hordes whilst activating certain switches and levers to infiltrate then escape the silo. Beginning on the outside, Arizona Sunshine – LB VR Edition held true to the horde mode style of gameplay found in the home version, waves upon waves of zombies attack from the front and you tend to just stand there and pop heads, reload then pop a few more.

It’s not until the title asks you to enter the silo by activating an elevator that the videogame starts to become much more dynamic. Not in the sense of extra weapons, or special items to pickup – because there are none – just in its use of space, making the team bunch up then separate depending on the location, all keeping an eye on each others back in the process.

Arizona Sunshine - Dead Man DLCThe actual gunplay itself is basic yet functional. You only have pistols and each has a reload timer, so careful timing is needed when the hordes start approaching. Most of the sections have a timer, activated by a lever so groups of players that communicate well can get into position before a wave starts.

Vertigo Games also make great use of VR’s immersive qualities when moving players around. At one point the lift gets stuck and you have to step out onto a metal beam, which you know is solid floor yet the instinctive reaction is to step hesitantly across the massive drop below. It’s tricks like these that make location-based VR entertainment so engrossing.

Wave shooters have been overused for home VR entertainment in the last couple of years, yet in a free-roaming location with a few pals by your side the genre gets a new lease of life. The whole dynamic changes when you’re physically rubbing shoulders with another player, and the entire 20 minute experience just seems to fly by. The Arizona Sunshine – LB VR Edition team quite clearly knows this, having created an engaging experience for zombie and VR fans alike. If a location opens near you VRFocus would advise attending.

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