Bat­tle­zone PSVR, Rift


Bat­tle­zone’s evo­ca­tion of Tron, with its low-de­tail ar­chi­tec­ture and ve­hi­cles ac­cented with flashes of neon, feels em­blem­atic of the pop­u­lar per­cep­tion of VR. Re­bel­lion’s game pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to dive into a sim­i­larly un­fa­mil­iar, ster­ile world and do bat­tle with be­ings that make no ef­fort to hide their dig­i­tal prove­nance or poly­gons. Its stripped-down tank com­bat is bold and ex­hil­a­rat­ing on first ex­po­sure, but over time the sim­plic­ity at its core cor­rupts that ini­tial ap­peal.

It’s thor­oughly en­joy­able while it lasts, how­ever. The tanks are a plea­sure to con­trol, glid­ing across are­nas’ sur­faces with sat­is­fy­ing in­er­tia as you take cover be­hind scenery and cir­cle en­emy ve­hi­cles. While they feel a lit­tle slow travers­ing the large maps, a smart risk/re­ward boost sys­tem al­lows you to move with greater alacrity at the cost of leech­ing power from your shields. You can switch be­tween equipped weapons by tap­ping X, and hold­ing the but­ton grants you ac­cess to a weak blaster with in­fi­nite ammo for emer­gen­cies. En­emy tanks, air­craft and tur­rets drop data, the cur­rency for up­grad­ing your tank and buy­ing new weapons at sup­ply points, and there’s a chance they’ll drop ammo too.

While the game apes the orig­i­nal ar­cade ma­chine in its tank-to-tank com­bat and bonus-laden UFOs, Re­bel­lion has added greater depth with a pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated Rogue­like struc­ture that sees play­ers tackle a se­ries of ob­jec­tives en route to a con­fronta­tion with the omi­nous Cor­po­ra­tion. You must pick your way across each ran­domly cre­ated hex grid, de­ploy­ing in var­i­ous mis­sion types in which you at­tack, de­fend, cap­ture, hack, or some com­bi­na­tion of all four. But while the in­di­vid­ual de­scrip­tions sug­gest va­ri­ety, in prac­tice ev­ery mis­sion type feels much the same. There’s plea­sure in chip­ping away at the map, de­cid­ing whether to press on­wards or take a cir­cuitous route to amass more data to spend on bet­ter kit. And that plea­sure is mul­ti­plied when play­ing with friends – you can heal each other when in close prox­im­ity, while spe­cific abil­i­ties al­low other al­tru­is­tic ges­tures such as boost­ing ammo.

But de­spite the rel­a­tive com­plex­ity of the game’s in­ter­weaved sys­tems – which also in­clude di­rec­tional tank shields, en­emy AI power which rises as you move across the map, and the abil­ity to scup­per en­emy progress or gain new weapon blue­prints – its sys­temic depth is heav­ily weighted to­wards be­tween-mis­sion man­age­ment, while the ac­tual busi­ness of shoot­ing things un­til they pop quickly be­comes repet­i­tive.

Bat­tle­zone is a fine in­tro­duc­tion to the plea­sures of mul­ti­player VR, but ul­ti­mately there’s not quite enough sub­stance here to keep you com­ing back af­ter your first few tours of duty.

Your tank in­te­rior bris­tles with screens dis­play­ing var­i­ous in­for­ma­tion on your sit­u­a­tion, ob­jec­tives and sta­tus. Fly­ing en­e­mies are harder to hit with can­nons, so switch­ing to mis­siles or ma­chine guns is nec­es­sary to kill them De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Re­bel­lion For­mat PSVR (tested), Rift Re­lease Out now

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