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