The PSVR 2 delivers on Sony’s promise of more fleshed-out games with Firewall Ultra. This title is First Contact Entertainment’s new tactical shooter that serves as a sequel and slight reboot of their 2018 game, Firewall Zero Hour. As a huge step up from its predecessor, Firewall Ultra seems like a game that was done justice by its developers. However, looking at it from a pure VR perspective, it does not deliver the fantasy expected from a virtual reality experience.
Booting up this game for the first time is breathtaking. Harnessing the full capability of the PSVR 2, there’s a captivating feeling that comes with the moody atmosphere it presents. Instantly, you can be immersed in the world according to the developer’s artistic direction. Eight maps are present here, evoking different emotions and feelings of uncertainty.
The maps are reworked from the first game, but they might as well be completely new. Mostly because they offer a nice variety in terms of layout and design. You’ll transition seamlessly from open, well-lit spaces into darker and genuinely claustrophobic environments. This keeps the gameplay experience fresh and engaging. With this level of attention to detail, Firewall Ultra is easily one of the better-looking titles on the PSVR 2.
Gameplay Experience and Controls
Depending on the type of gamer you are, there’s a decent chance that you’ll love this game. After all, it’s a game that delivers on the shooting experience one might expect in VR. Tactical shooting is just as challenging as regular FPS games, and we found that it also worked as a beginner-friendly experience.
Beyond the shooting, there’s a lot that feels “missing” from this game. Using VR as a platform for a video game usually implies that the game will include a lot of interactivity. However, the control scheme is quite dull and motion tracking leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s a lack of physical interactivity throughout the game that pulls you out of the experience completely. Many crucial actions like interacting with computers, reloading your gun, reviving downed teammates, and pretty much everything else involves holding L1. This gameplay gives the impression that the game only caters to those unfamiliar with VR. However, those voices have not been the loudest. For the most part, criticism from the community has been loud and clear.
This feedback has been enough for the developers to announce the arrival of an Ultra Mode that promises new features like manual reload.
It really isn’t a VR game if we don’t mention the janky aspects of the experience. It’s not unplayable, but there are moments when you’re completely left confused by what is going on. These range from hands refusing to release weapons and odd hand-switching controls to stuttery movements when near other players. These problems are nothing new with VR shooters, but considering the ambitious nature of this title, we expected a bit more polish to the presentation.
We can’t give an honest review of the game without touching on one of the most significant components of this experience: Online Multiplayer. The matchmaking process here is tedious. If you want to find games and get the full online experience as intended, be prepared to wait. Players have found it challenging to get into games with friends, resulting in the use of private lobbies with few players facing each other on huge maps. PvP matchmaking is the worst culprit, and for a tactical shooter, it leaves a sour taste among players eager to jump into action.
An odd feature of this game is the two-minute timer that is imposed between matches, irrespective of whether the full squad is ready to proceed. This timer proved to be a truly unwelcome interruption that led to an equal amount of time spent queueing for games compared to actually playing them.
Some of these issues may be addressed with future patches, but it’s also important to remember that paying for games means paying for an experience that was advertised.
Game Modes and Progression System
Firewall Ultra offers two primary game modes for players. PvP Contracts and PvE Exfil.
PvP contracts are just like the Firewall Zero Hour experience. In this mode, two teams of four players must compete to protect or hack a laptop, depending on a round’s outcome.
Meanwhile, PvE Exfil offers a full, action-packed experience compared to PvP. Four players will have to take on multiple AI opponents while they all try to hack three laptops on the map. You’ll need to rely on the game’s tactical features considerably more than PvP contracts. You have the option of stealth to keep fights to a minimum or brute force. Either way, you’ll need to be in total synergy with your team if you want to avoid losing.
One common issue with both modes is their brevity. Matches in this game tend to conclude pretty quickly, leaving a feeling that makes players think they’ve only scratched the surface of gameplay, only to be halted immediately.
For players who enjoy coming back to this game, there’s a decent progression system to follow. You can earn experience points and currency as you play, granting access to new weapons, attachments, and equipment. Although this system sounds like a promising grind, you’ll quickly find that the rewards are handed out at an extremely slow pace.
Yet again, the adjustment to the player’s complaints with the game’s progression comes in the form of an “upcoming” mode called Assignments. Here, players will be offered substantial returns both in XP and currency. Without this mode currently in the game, there’s nothing we can say about its viability.
Firewall Ultra arrives with high expectations, especially for the PSVR 2. Yet, it falls short in several key areas. The visual fidelity is definitely impressive. Its atmosphere, mood setting, and immersive VR experiences are nice to have. Still, without intuitive controls, interactive gameplay or a satisfying multiplayer experience, you might be better off playing a regular FPS tactical shooter instead.