Launching alongside the new Wolfenstein game, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, we have a Virtual Reality experience which sees you take down those terrible Nazis by using their own technology against them, all whilst walking the same streets we see in the main adventure. Become a virtual pilot within Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot and operate three advanced technologies, surprise the enemy as their own creations turn against them in the heat of battle and slaughter them one by one – sound fun?
As MachineGames haven’t really dabbled with VR previously, Bethesda has sought help from Arkane Studios, the developers of games such as Prey and Dishonoured, as they also released a few VR experiences for Prey earlier this year. The end product is a two to three-hour gaming experience which, in my opinion, would have been best as a companion to Wolfenstein: Youngblood via either an included item in the ‘Deluxe’ edition or an add-on DLC, let’s find out why; but listen closely, I shall say this only once…
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot puts you in the mind of the best hacker in all of Paris in 1980. You’ve opted to help the French Resistance take down the evil Nazis by utilising their own mechanical monsters against them, taking control of three technological terrors in hopes of eliminating them with the element of surprise. The game itself consists of two modes, the virtual office-based activities and the actual combat and espionage sections. The game itself is a separate entity to Wolfenstein: Youngblood but it does contain similar devices, tools and locations we see in it’s bigger sister which also came out today. As such, I started playing this but then went and completed the other game first, before returning, and I felt I enjoyed it a little bit better – although prior knowledge of the other game isn’t required.
The game itself only consists of four chapters, one for each of the Nazi creations you get to take control of and one final one which sees you play with all of your toys in a fun final-battle. The reason I think it would have been great as an included mode or add-on content is all down to the fact it reminded me a lot of the Prey VR DLC, a short but fun experience which perfectly compliments the main game which this borrows content and assets from. However, as a stand-alone title, I can see people who enjoy VR content but who may not be particularly interested in the Wolfenstein lore may also pick this up as it works as an interesting first-person VR slaughter-fest of Naughty Nazis and their Mean Machines.
Let’s take a deeper look at the two modes you’ll play, along with their various sub-modes…
In-between the ‘fun’ parts, you’ll be in control of an unnamed and faceless hacker sat within a nauseating chair which goes up and down between the various floors, almost like a barbers chair which has a comical range as it goes up and down massive heights. You can manually switch between four floors but you’ll never really be doing these segments with your own free will as there’s both a narrator and a mini-computer who tell you exactly what to do. It’s here where you’ll be helping with the hacking and repairing of the machines you’ve captured (in a rather simplistic way), fixing power surges, playing with the action figures you unlock (which was rather fun) and building some tech for one of the new machines you unlock.
I didn’t get this at first, as I thought you were going to train in the office (as there is a training system) and then head out to the battlefield. However, it’s like WarGames, you remotely control the various units you infiltrate behind enemy lines by heading into your Virtual Cockpit. After a brief training session with each technological marvel, it’s time to set your babies free and unleash Hell upon the Nazi scum!
Take a ride with me
There are three Mechs you’ll become the master of in Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, a Panzerhund, a Drone and a Zitadelle. Each one has it’s own combat style, purpose and abilities. Personally, I loved the Panzerhund as you get to literally burn all of your foes to a crisp with your immense flamethrower, smash into them with your power slam, or even slam into cars and watch as they go flying and squash the Nazis like little bugs! My least favourite has to be the Drone because those levels are basically stealth thanks to your tiny size and lack of decent shields. Although, its attack sure is deadly and rather explosive!
In addition to your standard attacks, of which you have a few (with the exception of the Drone as that has a rather interesting movement-based hacking ability instead), you also have a special move which is triggered by hitting a big red button to your left. This ability has a cool-down in place between uses, but it will save your life on numerous occasions. Once again, this move is unique to each device and perfectly matches up with what type of gameplay the mission has in store for you.
Controlling each of the Death Machines is fun but a little cumbersome in places. First of all, I’d strongly recommend you use Move Controllers. You can use a DS4 but your character will always have his hands out like he’s doing the ‘Big fish Little Fish‘ dance move! With duel Move controllers you can independently move your host’s arms around as you target different enemies with multiple weapons or reach out and grab things. Movement is simple, the left controller moves you forward and allows you to strafe (by pushing buttons!) and the right controller is in charge of your primary weapon and turning.
Now, my issue here is you can’t go backwards, there’s literally no button for reversing your metal monstrosity! This resulted in me literally being on top of enemies I couldn’t shoot, thus dying a number of times in an unfair way. **Update – you CAN go backwards, you press the Move Button on the right controller. Mine wasn’t working at the time of review** Also, having to push the face buttons to strafe is so annoying when you’re holding the T button to move forward on the same controller. Why can’t Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot adopt a ‘Skyrim’ style where the left stick is a virtual joystick – hold the T button and the device moves based on how you literally move the controller. This mechanic is actually in place during the office segments, so I was a bit disappointed it wasn’t here during the combat segment also.
I did like the way the right Move controller has been implemented though. As you wave your hand around within their virtual world, you’ll see a target in front of you, that’s the guide of where your attack will land once you hit ‘fire’. It reminded me of a visual mouse our one of the many static shooters we have on the system. When you’re vehicle is damaged, you can also dock the controller into your armrest to the side and summon some repair bots to come and fix you up. I just wish developers would operate with a movement style which is consisted of pushing fewer buttons or at least give us the option to pick the control style we wish to use. This isn’t the first Bethesda VR game I’ve had an issue with – Doom VFR also had a few control issues which clouded my judgement.
Whilst in the office segments, there’s various switches, levers, joysticks and items to grab and manipulate. Again, this is all 100% better with the Move controllers but you can still do it with the DS4. However, if you are using the DS4, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot relies heavily on light-bar tracking rather than gyroscope motion tracking. this means that if you are grabbing an item to the side, you have to always have your controller facing the camera, making your character look rather strange with his dislocated hands and wrists.
Comfort and VR impressions
One thing I will praise the developers on is the amount of choice in terms of comfort. You can opt to use blinders whilst moving/turning should you have issues with motion sickness, you can pick either smooth or snap turning (as a number of incremental degrees), and you can adjust how fast you turn if you’re playing in smooth mode. As I’ve used VR for a while now, I turned everything onto smooth and I had no issues at all as you’re literally a stationary person within the game, operating the machines from a virtual reality pod – it’s VR-ception! Bwooooooooong!!!
In terms of the VR experience overall, I thought the visuals were pretty good for a PSVR title. When out in the field, I could clearly see the combustible Nazis as I set fire to them and watched them burn. However, when you’re not in motion, there’s a strange thing going on with the visuals. I noticed this within the office segments where you have the machines dangling in front of you like meat on a rack. As I sat there, looking at a Panzerhund held up like a cat by the scruff of its neck, I thought my eyes were going strange as one second the game is super clear, then a little blurry, then clear, then blurry… I don’t know if this is some sort of dynamic resolution or injection method which could be causing the strange behaviour, as the main game has a few dynamic resolution options, but I found it a little unusual. You won’t notice it in the combat segments though.
Regarding the space needed to play Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, I thought I was okay as I have a small area which I use for seated VR – however, it wasn’t big enough. When the game’s narrative requires you to reach out and pull switches, I ended up knocking a few things over and having to readjust myself on the edge of my seat so I can grab things over to the side of myself and further down. It’s just something to be aware of, you’ll need about as much room as being able to put your arms out wide and reach things around the height of your lower waist and out to the sides at the same time.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot was a fun experience despite its short length and questionable controls. I’ve always enjoyed burning Nazis, I can’t think of anything better to do on a hot Summer’s day, so being able to do it in virtual reality just further enhanced my enjoyment which I had within this mini-Wolfenstein title. I had a few issues with the controls, both in terms of available space
and the lack of a reverse option, but it never really impacted on my overall experience as I simply readjusted myself IRL and used a combination of turning and strafing in order to perform a kind of reverse mechanic! Personally, this should have been an added companion to Wolfenstein: Youngblood but that doesn’t make it a bad game, it just didn’t feel as involved or content-rich as I’d expected when I first heard about it.
If you like Wolfenstein and you’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to take control of the Nazi machines and slaughter them with their own devices, then Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is for you. The game has replayability in the form of its trophies which require multiple playthroughs and various ways to complete the missions. Just don’t go into this expecting a full-on Wolfenstein experience within VR, keep expectations low and you’ll come out impressed.
**Out final score has been adjusted due to realising you can reverse and it was just my Move controller playing up during the review process. It’s been shifted from a 7 to 7.8 as you feel much more in control now**
- - Taking contorl of the three machines is really cool
- - The recreation of locations from Youngblood in VR was a great choice
- - The narrative is interesting and comes to an interesting conclusion
- - There are a few Easter eggs in there from Arkane and Wolfenstein games
- - Replayability in the form of trophy requirements
- - No reverse mechanism. I don't really like the control method in general
- - A little simplistic in terms of gameplay, I would have loved more depth and longer levels
- - Requires a decent amount of space around you so you can grab things
- - The DS4 controls are pointless, although they do cater for those without a Move Controller
- - I personally didn't like the Drone levels, but that's just becase I'm not a fan of low-health stealth segments