Firewall Ultra Review
Firewall: Zero Hour was a revelation on PlayStation’s first VR outing. The tactical shooter allowed players to team up in strategic battles against four opponents. While the original was held back by aging tech, its sequel looks to take full advantage of the power of the PSVR 2. With full eye-tracking, Dual Sense haptics and a 110-degree display, will Firewall Ultra be the ultimate virtual reality first-person shooter?
Rather than pummel you with needless context, the game simply throws you into the action. Instantly, you enter a tutorial that has designated areas for each mechanic. Most work how you’d expect, but there are certain actions that differ. For example, to throw a grenade you squeeze the trigger and just glance to where you’d like it to land. When satisfied, let go and marvel at the destruction you cause. Although this method removes the physical aspect of the throw, it allows for precision use of items which improves strategic gameplay. While the tutorial section allows you to tinker and practice, it’s also a little clunky and doesn’t seamlessly move you into the online mode. You can run a gauntlet to hone your skills, however, I think a bot match would have been a nice conclusion to the area.
Can I Touch It?
First Contact Entertainment’s focus on making this a stress-free experience is clear through its console-style controls. Reloading is performed with a click of the button and while this is easy and quick to do, it does break the immersion. Tactility is vital for the VR experience as it anchors you in the world. The absence of this hinders the experience as selecting weapons and even opening doors is done through button presses rather than movements. A hardcore mode with manual reload is apparently on the horizon, but currently, this isn’t available like many other aspects of the game.
Unfortunately, Firewall Ultra does feel like it’s in early access. Assignments that you complete through matches are locked which stifles progression. While I can only assume that the completion of these will reward you with XP, without this, you will have to settle for what you gain at the end of a match, which is barely anything. In its current state, it seems impossible to unlock weapons and add-ons to your arsenal due to the small amount of currency you gain. This needs a serious overhaul to encourage its player base to continue with the online shooter.
Down the Sight
Whether you play 4v4 online or the PvE mode, Firewall Ultra feels great. The gunplay is sound with suitable recoil and realistic designs. You can wield one-handed, clutch with your second hand to improve stability or press L2 to aim down the sight. At first, ADS felt odd but this was only while I had both eyes open. The clever implementation of eye-tracking means that the sight will adjust to your open eye to aid accuracy when shooting. Peeking around corners and taking out your opponent is extremely satisfying and addictive. In terms of pace, this is a more methodical shooter, closer to Rainbow Siege than Call Of Duty. Due to this, teamwork is mandatory. You will need to communicate, flank and set up traps to be victorious.
In PvP, you will have a round of attacking and defending. When offensive, you must locate and hack a laptop. If you can stay close to it, then you’ll gather the data quicker and ultimately win the round. When defensive, your goal is to stop this by all means necessary. If you do die and your partner is unable to reach and revive, you will then view the match via CCTV and can support your team by telling the whereabouts of your opponents. It’s a great way to keep you involved and feel part of the squad even when you’re down and out. While there are only two modes at the moment, this is touted as a live service product and more should be added at a later date.
In the Fight
Each of the 8 maps is varied and full of corridors, open spaces and vertically to make each match a blast. Many of the maps are from the original which means players will instantly feel at home. Although they make a return, there is a significant visual overhaul. The lighting is incredible with stark shadows juxtaposing fluorescent lights to make areas feel real. A few too many of the maps do have dark spots which make it difficult to navigate without a light attachment. However, each stage is the perfect size and offers an array of possibilities to make every match a thrill.
Currently, matches only start when both teams have full squads which means you may have to wait about. In my experience, when teams are full, most people stay in but if someone leaves, it can take a while to get going again. When in the hub, you can practice shooting, play with your loadout, select your contractor and purchase equipment. Although there are designated areas, everything feels overly complex to navigate. It desperately needs a simple menu where you can access each element rather than having to run from one point to another.
Play it Your Way
There are a number of accessibility options to support players with motion sickness. You can increase and decrease vignettes and turn on smooth or stepped turning. All of these help to ease players in, especially those who tend to feel nauseous on VR. As each person has a full body, animations can look awkward. At times, the arms and wrists of teammates rest in unnatural positions, however, due to the tight and focused gameplay, this doesn’t break the immersion.
Firewall Ultra has a ton of potential. Its solid shooting, diverse maps and addictive gameplay make each match a thrill. While First Contact Entertainment nails these aspects, there are several issues that make this fall short of a complete experience. With the lack of in-game interactivity, inactive objectives and only a couple of modes, Firewall Ultra needs time to be the shooter we were hoping for.
*** A PSVR2 review code was provided by the publisher ***
- The Guns Feel Great
- Realistic Visuals
- Addictive Gameplay
- Not Enough Interactivity
- Missing a Lot of Features
- Hard to Find Matches