Killing Floor: Incursion is a VR title available on all major VR platforms, this review was done using a PSVR on a standard PS4. This title, by Tripwire Interactive, is the first actual ‘campaign’ within the Killing Floor universe. Unfortunately for those of you who have yet to splurge on VR though, this campaign is not playable without a headset. For those of you lucky enough, this is not only another fantastic Killing Floor FPS game but also a fantastic VR game outright. As well as the campaign (4-5 hours long) to blast your way through, there is also a smaller version of the normal games’ classic survival mode, this time called Holdout. Both of these modes are playable solo or as a two-man army online.
In terms of how the game plays, at this time there is no support for a DualShock 4 or the Aim controller, only two move controllers. The game offers various methods of moving around, you can toggle between snap or smooth turning, and teleportation or full locomotion. In this game, the more times you consecutively teleport, the less distance you can travel. I’m not sure whether this is meant to be a comfort thing to stop motion sickness or whether it’s to make the game harder, but I’m not a fan. It causes many problems in fights where you simply cannot get away. Overall though, the teleport movement is fluid and responsive and suits the game well.
A nice touch to make the game run more comfortably is an option every time you play that asks if you’re playing while sitting or standing (always sitting, hell no am I letting myself be able to run when things are appearing in my face). This quality of life feature is excellent because too many games can feel like they favour standing when sometimes it’s just not possible with your set-up.
It’s time find out how Killing Floor has fared with its first venture into a story mode:
As you may or may not know, Killing Floor is not necessarily known for its story. It’s always been about the guns and the monsters, even though if you pay enough attention there has always been lore that you can certainly get involved in. Killing Floor: Incursion doesn’t really lean too much into a detailed narrative but the plot is interesting enough. Don’t expect an emotional rollercoaster or something deep and meaningful because it’s not, and it’s not meant to be. It’s pretty much there to give context to you shooting Zeds – which I’m more than fine with.
After being injured in a fight against the Zeds, you’re placed into a simulation while your body is healed. The simulation is a brilliant story beat to explain how you learn certain actions even though you’re already a trained killer. At first, you undergo training to show you how to move around and shoot (although you can skip if needed) and there are some very funny lines from the outset. The few characters you meet maintain the quips and witty tone of the characters from Killing Floor 2, which I definitely enjoyed. You aren’t going to be laughing out loud but they certainly bring a smirk multiple times. The story is sort of a whodunnit, everything is attacking you and someone caused it, you just need to work out who. While you’re in the simulation, for some reason what shouldn’t hurt you is actually hurting your physical body, which is just one of the many great nods to how you, the player, are using VR to put yourself in the game.
The Campaign is fully playable in cooperative mode and works very well. It definitely adds a fun factor and decreases the difficulty somewhat with having two people working towards the same blood-riddled goals. Therefore, if you have online available to you, I would definitely replay the game on the harder difficulties whilst with another player. The story also has a multiple choice ending which allows for a little bit of replayability so you can see the different ways the story finishes, meaning you could easily put a good 30 hours into this game – which is great value for money for a VR game.
If you’ve played the other Killing Floor games, this game should give you a bit of an insight into what the thousands of Zeds you’ve been fighting against actually are and where they come from, which I was glad about. Enough about story though, let’s get technical.
As expected, the game doesn’t look as good in PSVR as Killing Floor 2 but that’s mostly down to the limitations in resolution via the headset. There are a lot of textures that are completely missing or altered, for example; instead of objects such as skulls looking like 3D carvings, they look like cheap wallpaper slapped on to the areas that you walk through. It’s not all bad; there are some very nice vistas with realistic lighting and a decent variety of locations for a pretty short game. There is a creepy farmhouse which was reminiscent of how some sections of Resident Evil 7 felt, dark and narrow catacombs and even a lovely picturesque Paris. It looks as good as it needs to and no more or less.
The game never suffered from any frame rate drops or anything game-breaking. The only glitch I saw was that sometimes enemies would appear in front of you or come through walls, but the developers have a sneaky way of getting around this by using the story as an excuse (enemies appearing in a simulated world so physical objects don’t matter).
The sound in this game is largely fine and guns sound real and powerful. The creatures sound the same as in the other games but this time there’s no heavy guitar soundtrack overpowering the story. My one little caveat with the sound is that the dialogue is very quiet. I would definitely recommend turning up the sound a lot or playing with headphones on as I sometimes missed an important story beat just because I couldn’t quite make out what was being said.
Now onto the part you really need to know about: how is VR integrated? To put it simply, pretty damn brilliantly.
Killing Floor: Incursion is made specifically for VR and that is what makes it such a great game. Almost every design choice is clear that it’s been to make this as fun and fluid as possible whilst maintaining a degree of pretty high difficulty. A great example of this is how you pick items up. Many VR games require you to physically pick up items, whether it’s on the floor or on a table, sometimes leading to glitches and camera placing problems. Killing Floor: Incursion knows that it’s not possible for you to have time to do that as 90% of the time you will be being attacked from one monstrosity or another.
To solve this, Tripwire Interactive gives you a much more simple point and click mechanic. If you’re close to a weapon or item of interest, if you aim your hand at it you can press the equip button and it pops up straight into your hand. If you’re feeling really flash, you can even throw weapons up in the air and catch them (try it, it’s so fun). I tried this in co-op and was swapping guns with a complete stranger who I wasn’t talking to by throwing our weapons through the air – which just felt so cool.
I did have a very slight issue with this though, which may or may not be because I was quite slow to learn. The Move controller controls are slightly different depending on which controller (left or right) you use. The reload and equip buttons are swapped around and that sometimes makes thing a bit confusing in the heat of battle. While it feels more realistic because of having opposable thumbs, it was sometimes very frustrating trying to pick a weapon up but realising too late that I was using the wrong button for the wrong controller. As a bit of advice, I eventually agreed in my head that “outside is equip, inside is reload”. If you stick to that concept you should get the hang of it quicker than I did. If not, you can do what I did and just throw your arms around in panic and punch them to death, a perfectly viable option in my head.
Another issue I had with the pickup system is that you can’t pick up health or ammo when you have both hands full. The process is the same as equipping a weapon, which is very annoying, as in the middle of a fight when your health is low it can cause A) mass panic or B) certain death. I’m not sure why the developers felt it necessary to aim and pick these up, but not make you reload your weapon manually, as in games such as The London Heist on the VR Worlds collection. Instead, it would have been much better to ditch a bit of the realism in favour for more accessibility, allowing you to pick stuff up by just teleporting or walking over them. This is especially true with teleporting since the more you do it, the less distance you can travel with your next movement, so being precise enough to be safe in combat but also pick up health is a bit too challenging and uncomfortable for my liking.
After those discrepancies, let’s move on to the fluidity of the VR action. Rather than flicking through menus and weapon wheels to equip weapons, Killing floor: Incursion has my favourite way of using weapons in a VR shooter so far. The upper half of your body is basically your inventory and can be accessed so fluidly that you feel like an absolute badass. You have two gun holsters on your waist, a torch holder on your chest and two larger gun holders on your back (accessed via either shoulder). The feeling of whipping out two pistols, emptying the magazines and then casting them to the floor to make way for two axes, was single-handedly the best thing I’ve felt in VR so far. If you’re familiar enough with the controls, it is so responsive and allows you to make fast adjustments for those nervy moments when you’re being overrun. Couple this with the return of Zed time, (the Killing Floor equivalent of Bullet time from Max Payne) and you’re in for one (bullet)hell of a time. Zed time was satisfying in Killing Floor 2, so just imagine how it feels in VR! Or I’ll just tell you. F-ing awesome.
So how else is this fluidity achieved? With the PS Move controllers, you place your ‘hands’ by your holsters and use the equip buttons to grab any variation of two things in your inventory at any time. A very helpful mechanic is that whatever you have in your inventory can be thrown to the floor, causing it to reappear in its original holster – this is one area where the accessibility is favoured over the realism and definitely helps a lot.
You can be any of your favourite action heroes; Leon Kennedy? Grab the torch and the pistol and cross them over; Deadpool? Whip out those knives or fire axes from your shoulders; Lara Croft? Dual wield pistols baby! Or you can even be a nutter, like me, and try to dual wield sniper rifles! However, that failed miserably as then you can’t reload with no free hands. The absolute best combination though (which you get a sweet trophy for) is that you can pick up a dead Zed’s limbs and beat them with it. It says a lot about me that I would enjoy that as much as I did but I think you will too if you’re already reading this.
The game tries to be as realistic as possible, making weapons such as snipers and shotguns require both hands to use them effectively. While it feels absolutely awesome pumping a shotgun to blast away some Zeds, you can be left defenceless if you aren’t fully comfortable with the controls. When in a busy fight, I often neglected to use the weapons that required both hands because they just didn’t feel comfortable or powerful enough to make up for not having a free hand or two single-handed weapons. The feel of them is fine; they just aren’t practical enough and actually make fights harder in my opinion.
That being said, my favourite weapon in the game was the sniper rifle because it felt as real as the Move controllers in my hands. As you bring the scope up to your face, the picture is genuinely blurred, meaning you have to close your eye to see through it clearly! I had a little pause and clap moment when I first experienced this and was truly blown away by how fun it felt. You even have to grip and yank the bolt back ready for your next shot, which adds to that incredible suspension of disbelief.
The Zeds in the game are exactly the same as from the other games within the Killing Floor series, performing in very much the same manner. Only, in VR, even the basic enemies known as the ‘Cysts’ look terrifying. While the game isn’t necessarily a jumpy game, there were quite a few moments where I would give out a little “AH!” as I turned and there was some ghoulishly messed up creature headbutting my headset. This made the fights feel tenser and made the success of killing everything that little bit sweeter, so the VR definitely adds something more to the game, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean to.
Another way the VR is utilised is pairing your new perspective with the torch that you carry for the purpose of puzzle solving. Your handy (pun not intended) little light can be held in one hand allowing you to lean your head around corners and over obstacles to search for answers to puzzles. As well as a normal torch, your light has a UV setting that allows you to see hidden objects and patterns to help you solve puzzles. While this does feel nice and allows for a couple of very fun puzzle sections, I think this idea does get slightly overused somewhat. I would have liked just maybe one more way of solving a puzzle rather than using your torch to unearth most of the answers. Sometimes I felt a bit lost, waving the torch around at ceilings and over edges looking for the answers. This definitely extended the playtime and unfortunately the frustration, quite a bit. Thankfully you have a very cute little robot that can give you subtle hints. If you summon him and press the clue option, he can take you to the general area that you need to be in, so there’s that.
Holdout is the secondary mode within the game. It’s basically a case of surviving as long as you can and is best played in the cooperative mode. It’s funny seeing a little avatar of a floating torso in place of the other player in both the campaign and Holdout modes, but it’s also a clever way of allowing you to see through them and what Zeds are behind them. There are some differences within this mode, as opposed to the standard campaign such as powerups like unlimited ammo that feel amazing, allowing you to go all Rambo on those Zed blighters and makes for an entertaining, yet shallow, mode.
There’s not much depth to it at all but it certainly will improve your reactions and your aim if you need practice to beat those bosses in the campaign. You’re basically trying to earn as many points as possible and making multiple headshots in a row gives you multipliers; a sick but very effective way of making you improve. It makes for a less pressured endless wave of Zeds to kill if you need that de-stress when you’re home from work.
Official Trailer [Killing Floor: Incursion]
Official Trailer [Killing Floor: Double Feature]
Killing Floor: Incursion is a fantastic showcase of how good PSVR can be. When gunplay is done that smoothly and in such a badass way, it’s an absolute treat and needs to be experienced by all fans of the FPS genre. I can honestly say it’s the most awesome I’ve felt in a VR headset. While there are other games that use VR in more innovative ways, Tripwire Interactive has made a game that truly feels like you’re playing the lead role in an action movie like Hardcore Henry.
The story is good, albeit not amazing, with a puzzle that I won’t spoil which is an incredibly clever reference to the story. The puzzles can be frustrating and take longer than necessary: not because you don’t know what to do, but sometimes because it’s unclear on where to look. While the sniper rifle feels amazing, because you’re playing at a distance, sometimes the shotgun just doesn’t quite have the same impact. Also, the game is fluid and very smooth but sometimes it can still feel overwhelming having to move, drop guns, reload and pick stuff up at the same time.
The problems I’ve listed though are largely minor and are because I’m sulking that they take your time away from what the game does excellently: shooting stuff. If you have a PSVR headset, go and stick your head inside and blast away Zeds in this crazy and excellent shooter, you seriously won’t regret it.
*This review is part two of two. Both Killing Floor 2 and Killing Floor: Incursion have just been re-released within Killing Floor: Double Feature*
Killing Floor: Double Feature£32.99
- - VR adds a layer of tension
- - Quite funny in places
- - The robot is very useful
- - Very fluid gameplay
- - Shooting feels incredibly fun
- - Sometimes voices are too quiet
- - Puzzles are a little repetitive for a short game
- - Can be overwhelming picking up ammo and health