I don’t own a virtual reality headset and have little familiarity with the Sniper Elite series but Sniper Elite VR made me consider diving into both. The upcoming game, a collaboration between developers Rebellion and Just Add Water, uses the immersion of VR to enhance the already tense thrill of sharpshooting.
This reinvention on the popular series is a standalone entry set in World War 2 era Sicily. Nazi forces, specifically German U-boats, occupy the Italian city. Players join up with the local resistance force to help drive them out. Story specifics are scarce, but author Tony Schumacher, known for his John Rosset series of war novels, lends his writing chops to the campaign. Rebellion boasts the adventure will take players across a variety of locales, from wartorn villages to airfields and bunkers.
I spent a brief time with Sniper Elite VR at E3 where it had been officially unveiled. Rebellion had the game set up for PlayStation VR, though it’s also compatible with Oculus Rift and available through SteamVR and Viveport. On Sony’s headset, players can control the game using either PlayStation Move, PlayStation Aim, or the DualShock 4. The Aim became my weapon of choice; it’s gun-shaped form lends to the most authentic sniper experience.
The demo began by dropping onto the rooftop of village warzone. Shots whizzed perilously towards by my head from an enemy on the ground which forced me to quickly grab a weapon to retaliate. As I brought the the Aim controller to up my eye the view transitioned into a sniper scope for realistic aiming. It’s an awesome mechanic that effectively sold the idea that I was holding an actual sniper rifle.
I took the shot which then entered into Sniper Elite’s famous slow-motion x-ray kill cam, which has been rebuilt from scratch to suit VR. The bullet tore through his sternum, graphically displaying every shattered bone and ruptured organ as it exited his body. I dashed across makeshift bridges to other rooftops and took down foes hunkered in adjacent buildings and on the street. At one point a tank entered the fray and unleashed a barrage of cannonfire. The explosions looked and sounded great. The well-tuned controls impressed; I never had an issue with performing an action. Popping in and out of cover, physically dodging incoming fire, then peering into the scope and nailing a clean headshot felt unexpectedly thrilling.
Movement and camera control can either be the standard smooth transition like in regular shooters or the staple VR teleport. I opted for the former and used the sticks to run and look around as normal. Though functional and familiar, that smoothness came at a price: a mild spell of motion sickness that forced me to wrap things up sooner than expected.
Still, as I hobbled out of the demo room, I walked away pleased with what I played. Rebellion has done a lot of work to make VR a natural fit for Sniper Elite and it should be a unique treat for fans. Unfortunately, the game has no release window as of yet. We’ll have to wait and see when we can engage in this brutal and immersive fight for liberation.
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