Review: Firewall Zero Hour

A finely crafted VR shooter that manages to avoid the problems of many other VR multiplayers.

The first-person military shooter remains one of the most popular videogame genres on the planet, played and enjoyed by millions of people all over the world, particularly in multiplayer. It was therefore inevitable that such a title would eventually hit the PlayStation VR, in the form of Firewall Zero Hour.

Though Firewall Zero Hour supports both the PlayStation Aim controller and Dual Shock 4, the review was conducted with Dual Shock 4, since it is the ubiquitous controller, and many users still won’t be equipped with a PlayStation Aim controller.

Firewall Zero Hour - Screenshot (E3 2018)

Firewall Zero Hour has two modes, a virtual reality (VR) ‘training mode’ that essentially acts like a wave shooter, with increasingly tough robots charging towards you. This basically exists to let you get a feel for the controls and the weapons, as the emphasis is very much on the multiplayer.

The Contract mode is a 4v4 PvP, with other players take a role in your little team as you take a role as either defender or attacker. Right from the outset, it becomes obvious that communication is essential. Luckily, every PlayStation VR comes with a microphone, so its fairly easy to engage with your team, to make plans, point out enemies or give orders.

Of course, whenever you have lots of people online, you are going to encounter the occasional person who won’t play ball, or groups that descend into squabbling. Curiously, most of the players encountered were reasonably polite. Its also worth noting that Firewall Zero Hour has a fairly robust and active online community as of time of writing, so it has so far avoided the pitfall of many other multiplayer titles.

Using the Dual Shock 4 controller is a little awkward. Though it maps as a motion controller, it feels a little counter-intuitive to use, particularly when using a two-handed weapon, and it can be uncomfortable for long periods. Movement is primarily handled using smooth locomotion, and though it feels a little slow at times, it mostly works well without giving a sense of disorientation.

Firewall Zero Hour - Screenshot (E3 2018)

Combat is where Firewall Zero Hour really shines, as you would expect. Everything feels immersive and real, there’s some lovely animations at work, and the graphics in general look polished and well-handled. The guns have been modelled to have realistic recoil effects, so compensating for this becomes second-nature after a while, and switching to a different weapon means you need to learn how it behaves so you can get the best out of it.

Playing Firewall Zero Hour in any mode – even solo training mode – nets you in-game currency that can be spent on upgrades, such as new guns, skins and abilities and this progression is fairly nicely handled, giving out just enough at a time to make you feel more powerful without suddenly making you overpowered.

It should be noted that you don’t get ‘lives’. If you die during a mission and your teammates don’t revive you, you are dead. However, death has its advantages. You can float around peeking at the cameras placed through the map, and – crucially – you can still speak with your living teammates. This means having a dead team member can actually be an advantage in some circumstances.

Firewall Zero Hour has managed to avoid many of the common pitfalls of VR online multiplayers and add its own interesting twist to the military FPS genre. The lobby system could use some improvements, but otherwise its a finely crafted title that will be of great interest to FPS fans.

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