If you’re a PSVR enthusiast, then you already know that developer First Contact Entertainment’s latest release, Firewall: Zero Hour, is out now, and that it’s a big deal. For those who don’t know, it’s a 4 vs 4 tactical first-person shooter developed from the ground up exclusively for the PSVR. If you’ve played Rainbow 6 Siege, then you’ll instantly feel at home in Firewall: Zero Hour. As I mentioned, it’s a PSVR exclusive, so you’ll need the headset and either the Aim controller or the Dual Shock 4, as the Move controllers are not an option. As you can imagine, the game is far superior with the Aim controller. Using the DS4 means you’ll be holding it up like a gun, which grows uncomfortable after a while. Besides, you’re playing a first-person shooter in virtual reality, why wouldn’t you want to hold a real (fake) gun?
With the necessary equipment out of the way, let’s get to the gameplay. There is a quick tutorial that shows you just how intuitive the game is to play. Whether you’re interacting with the environment like doors or weapon crates, easily lobbing a grenade, or firing off your weapon, playing Firewall: Zero Hour will come naturally to anybody who has ever held a controller, or a gun for that matter.
Once you’ve finished the tutorial, you can jump into a solo mode that pits you against a wave of bots. You’re tasked with either protecting a laptop full of valuable information or sneaking in and stealing the info. You can play this mode with a friend as well, but if you’re interested in picking this one up simply to play solo missions then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. This game was designed to play 4 vs 4 with, and against, real people. This mode is called Contracts. In Contracts mode, the attackers will have to locate and disable one of two firewall access points. With that done, your team will earn the location of the laptop. Your remaining teammates will then converge on the laptop to steal the valuable information that it contains. And obviously, as the defenders, your job is to defend the laptop at all costs. There is no respawning in the game, but if you’ve only been knocked down, then one of your teammates can revive you. You can’t crawl to safety, so your teammates will have to risk their own lives to revive you. Once you’ve been killed for good, you will be able to cycle through various surveillance cameras and update your remaining teammates with valuable intel. It’s a really cool feature that makes you feel invested in the game even after you’re dead.
Contracts is currently the only real game mode available. That is not ideal, but First Contact has stated that more game modes are ready. The reason we are stuck with just one, for now, sounds legit. By releasing the game with only one game mode to start, they hope to keep the relatively small PSVR player base from fracturing. Their thinking is that having every single player stuck in one really fun game mode, is better than having the player base spread around, making it more difficult to find enough players to fill all of the lobbies. In this case, I wholeheartedly agree. The contracts mode is a freaking blast, and every time I’ve logged in, including early evening, late at night and early in the morning, I’ve had no problem finding players. Would I love some different modes? Of course, I would, we all would, but the mode we do have is a great first start.
The game isn’t perfect, of course, but I am going to start with the positive. As one of my first squadmates and I talked about during an intermission, the game is somewhat “barebones”, but what is here is extremely polished. I’d rather have pristine gunplay than a bunch of empty game modes. And the gunplay is fantastic. I take my VR seriously, so my setup has been carefully constructed, and I rarely have tracking problems, but the tracking in Firewall has been as good as it gets. Using the Aim has never felt better. Since those first few marathon sessions, I’ve seen complaints that the in-game gun is lower than the real-life Aim controller in your hand. With that in mind, each time I’ve set down to play I tell myself that I’m going to test this out, but once I get in-game, the idea of the controller in my hand ceases to be real, and the gun that I can actually lay my eyes on becomes the “real” gun. When I raise the rifle to aim down the sites, I simply stop when the in-game rifle reaches the point I want it to. The fact that the controller is actually lower, for me, becomes a non-factor. So much so, that I can’t even confirm it is, in fact, lower. I’m sure it is – because how could so many angry redditers be wrong – but because of the reasons I’ve already listed, it is a non-issue for me. I still have to give the Aim controller a shake from time to time to keep it in line, but that is a hardware issue that all PSVR users have to deal with. Giving the gun a quick waggle is now muscle memory for me, like reloading after a kill.
The graphics are some of the best the PSVR has to offer. There are nine, good size maps that each offers a unique and fun experience. The characters, or contractors, as they’re called in-game, look great as well, and they move fluidly and naturally throughout. I’m playing on an OG PlayStation amateur, and I’m frankly surprised at the level of detail this game reaches. Obviously, there are graphical limitations inherent in this generation of VR, but I’ve never cared less about that disparity, than when I’m playing a round of Firewall: Zero Hour. The guns look great, too, with each one offering a ton of detail, making grinding away to afford new attachments, paint and trinkets even more fun.
The sound is also a high point. A first-person shooter with guns that don’t sound real is inexcusable. Thankfully, the guns in Firewall sound great, and pack that punch necessary, especially when using the Aim, to keep you immersed in the game. Keeping an ear out for enemy footsteps isn’t new or unique to Firewall, but being tipped off by an enemy player accidentally bumping the barrel of their gun walking through a doorway is what makes VR so damn good. Now I know why Snake carried his gun so weird in Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater.
As with any tactical multi-player shooter, the in-game chat with your teammates is integral to success, and to a large degree how much fun you have. Finding a team that isn’t afraid to chat, takes the game to a whole new level. Surprisingly, I have yet to play with an asshole in Firewall, but I’m sure that day is coming. If you are one of those players that doesn’t like, or isn’t comfortable talking to strangers in-game, there is still some fun to be had, but I strongly urge you to give it try. As I said, the community so far has been great and very welcoming. The game is simply more fun when teammates work together. I love converting shy players to speak up in-game, because shy players are always nice, and nice players are even more fun to play with than good players. So speak up, folks, it’s worth it, and you’ll thank me.
I’m going to hit on some of the negatives. I already mentioned the single game mode and the lack of a single player campaign. Being able to attack or defend in a single player mode is an okay way to test out new weapons and familiarize yourself with the maps, but the enemy AI is pretty bad. They are mostly cannon fodder and offer next to zero tactical skill. There was a major bug that made joining a game with your friends nearly impossible. As bad as that is, it also highlighted another negative. Whenever a host leaves the game, all the other players are booted back to the menu. When players were trying to form a group with their friends, and they couldn’t, they would simply leave the lobby to try again. This meant that everybody else got sent back to the lobby, as well. So the host was frustrated because he couldn’t get a squad made up of his friends, and everyone else was pissed because we kept getting kicked back to the main menu. Thankfully, along with a couple other bugs, First Contact already patched the squad matchmaking issue. Unfortunately, when a host leaves, all other players are still sent back to the main menu. This currently is the worst part of the game. It is extremely frustrating to find a great bunch of teammates only to get booted because the host has to go take out the trash or pick up the pizza. I’m hoping that won’t happen as often now that they fixed the squad matchmaking problem.
Another popular complaint, and one I agree with, is that the game is only one round before you’re back in the lobby. The games are only five minutes max, and usually much shorter, meaning you could spend almost as much time in lobby as in-game. Not ideal. It seems to me, having you play two rounds (one attacking, one defending) with a possible tie-breaking third round seems to make too much sense not to add in the future. Certainly not a game-breaker, but the kind of fine-tuning updates and patches are built for.
There is a ton of guns, attachments, skills, etc to try out, but they are all hidden behind level locks and cryptocurrency. Leveling up is slow work, and Firewall money – much like real money – doesn’t grow on trees, making each purchase a tough decision. On the other hand, with a level cap at fifty, and a buttload of things to unlock, there is always a reason to play “just one more round.”
I know I’m leaving a ton of things out, but to sum it up, Firewall: Zero Hour doesn’t just live up to the hype, it surpasses it. It is the most fun, most immersive, and exciting PSVR game I’ve ever played. It’s not perfect, but when you’re in the middle of an intense firefight with some cool teammates, it’s as close to perfect as multiplayer shooters can get. If you have even a passing interest in action games or shooters, then you should buy an Aim controller and this game now. Don’t wait for a sale, don’t wait for more game modes. Just buy it. And I’ll see you on the battlefield!
Firewall Zero Hour PSVR Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9.2/10
The 4v4 tactical shooter I wasn’t sure we could get in VR is here and it’s even better then I dared to hope. Firewall: Zero Hour is the kind of addicting, multiplayer game that keeps gamers coming back for more, and may even move a few PSVR units. Time will tell if this is PSVR’s Goldeneye, or just another VR multiplayer game with a dwindling player base. Either way, do yourself a favor and play this game.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.