Title: Sniper Elite VR
Developer: Just Add Water
Release Date: July 8, 2021
Reviewed On: Oculus Quest 2
The Sniper Elite series has taken an arcade-like approach to war scenarios and missions, allowing players to be one versus many soldiers defending what’s theirs. It works in many ways and offers replayability with added challenges and obtainable high scores. This arcade approach never stopped the developers from including some sense of immersion by introducing sim-like systems that tested the player’s skills. The only other step to this would be VR, and that’s finally here with Sniper Elite VR. I should stress that although this might not be a first-party developed VR shooter, the team at Rebellion, Just Add Water, and Coatsink have truly delivered an awesome experience.
Sniper Elite VR has players relive the life of a soldier who defended his land in 1943. The missions follow the intel of a fallen comrade but really sell the idea that you weren’t always a soldier and the steps your character had to take to acquire these skills. The mission structure is almost staggered as it regularly introduces new mechanics across its 18 levels. Missions range from defending a position to stealth infiltration, and you’re free to take this on however you’d like.
There’s no shortage of possibilities here. Players have access to dozens of weapons that expand their arsenal. The game allows players to create loadouts, so you can play an early stage with a gun you found on the 12th stage. The act of sniping in VR takes some getting used to and major arm strength as you’re required to steady your rifle. Still, there are options for accessibility to make missions a little easier.
The immersion of this game is brilliant, and I believe it’s due to the developer knowing where to put their resources. This realization allowed them to construct levels in a way that retains an arcade design but doesn’t strain too far into reality. Instead, they’ve focused on how players will navigate the world and get them through without too much explanation or hand-holding. The environments range from open factories, narrow alleys and even cliffside bases. Nearly every inch of the stages is utilized as you traverse through the streets, into building, and up ladders.
Attention was put into the weapons that require some trial and error the first time you use them. Shooting them isn’t really the issue, though, as you’ll mainly figure out how to reload them. Adding ammo and loading in bullets is necessary for each gun. The first hour is stressful in a way as you try to get comfortable with the movements. However, after a few missions, I made my way through the battlefield as if I were Jude Law in Enemy at the Gates. Aiming becomes easier, and the slow-down focus mechanic will get you that perfect shot. There are also options to remove the manual reload, but I felt like this hurt the immersion tremendously.
While controls are responsive, there are some hiccups when accessing your arsenal. I just never felt like I could easily see what I had equipped. Further, interacting with guns wasn’t always smooth. Shooting enemies was also an issue sometimes, as some bullets didn’t seem to register even when lined up. It’s almost an afterthought, though, because you can easily take another shot and you aren’t always pressed for time, so you can spend a few moments picking up every item in sight.
Sniper Elite VR can be as challenging as you want it. The normal difficulty offers decent AI enemies and enough health to get through most encounters with abundant ammo around the maps. However, the enemies will often stand around and wait to be shot, but they sometimes manage to put up a fight. The more serious difficulty really demands you understand the nuances of the controls and weapons, but it’s there for those hardcore VR fans. Other options include VR movement options for those who might get sick. I’m highly susceptible to motion sickness, but I played for 2 hours at a time and felt fine.
Sniper Elite VR is an immersive FPS VR experience that combines arcade mission types with a simulation level of interactivity. Each mission objective varies, and while the sniper class steals the show, there’s a large variety of weapon types that each feels comfortable and fun to use. Item interaction and limited enemy AI can cause frustration, but after playing, I don’t think I can play this series any other way.
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