Plenty of different game franchises have made the leap to virtual reality over the years, with the likes of DOOM, Resident Evil, and Half Life just a few that have made a successful transition. They’ve offered some memorable moments in-game too, whether that’s when experiencing a glory kill up-close and personal in DOOM VFR, sneaking through the Baker estate in Resident Evil 7, or witnessing a head crab for the first time in Half Life: Alyx. It just feels SO different experiencing these things in virtual reality, with the added immersion making each situation all the more thrilling.
Well, developer Rebellion’s popular Sniper Elite series is now joining in on the fun, with Sniper Elite VR offering a meaty first-person shooter campaign that feels fantastic to experience in virtual reality. Believe me, there’s nothing quite like pulling off the perfect nut shot from the comfort of your virtual reality headset…
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game down below:
Like other releases in the Sniper Elite series, Sniper Elite VR sees players taking on the role of a specialist sniper in World War II. This isn’t the same protagonist players would have enjoyed taking the role of previously though, but rather an Italian soldier that is re-living his memories of an occupied Italy. These memories take place over eighteen different missions, with each tasking the player with different objectives that involve plenty of sniping, but also moments of stealth or more action-orientated shootouts. Whether you’re sneaking into a base, defending allies, or trying to plant explosives, there’s plenty of fun to be had across the roughly nine-hour campaign.
For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s worth mentioning that Sniper Elite VR isn’t built around sniping alone. Yes, players will spend plenty of time picking off enemies with long-distance sniper shots, but they’ll also sneak through environments, try to distract enemies or take them out with silenced weapons, and even end up in all-guns blazing set-pieces where a high-intensity machine gun is the weapon of choice. It’s very much a traditional first-person shooter at its core, so you shouldn’t expect to spend all of your time stationary and simply waiting for your target to come into view.
“Yes, players will spend plenty of time picking off enemies with long-distance sniper shots, but they’ll also sneak through environments, try to distract enemies or take them out with silenced weapons, and even end up in all-guns blazing set-pieces…”
There’s no right or wrong way to approach gameplay either. Don’t get me wrong, the stealthy approach is often the better one to take (and it’s satisfying trying to mislead enemies or pop your head in and out of cover as you wait for the right moment to strike undetected), but heading into shootouts and killing everyone is fine too. It won’t suit all missions, of course, but it’s nice to know that getting caught sneaking through a base doesn’t mean it’s ‘game over’. The gunplay itself is tight and it always feels good to gun down foes though, so you certainly won’t mind if enemies spot you…
Of course, given that the game is called Sniper Elite VR, it’s pretty important that the sniping is satisfying too. Thankfully, it delivers there, with the tension of lining up shots, holding still, and picking your moment to shoot certainly feeling exciting in virtual reality. There’s a genuine thrill to be felt as you pick off your foes, with it easily standing out as the most realistic and enjoyable sniping game I’ve played in virtual reality.
What helps add to the realism is the fact that players have to manually load each weapon they use. Whilst it is possible to activate automatic reloading if you want a more traditional and accessible shooting experience, those who are seeking extra immersion will appreciate that they have to grab ammo and load up each weapon.
“The gunplay itself is tight and it always feels good to gun down foes though, so you certainly won’t mind if enemies spot you…”
The only real downside to this came with how fiddly it could be when in the middle of a shootout. Trying to maintain cover, load up your weapon, and then line up shots without getting hit yourself could be a bit rough with motion controls, with plenty of awkward deaths suffered as I clumsily tried to reload my weapon. It’s something you get used to the more you play, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself in a bit of a twist here and there.
As far as the controls are concerned, Sniper Elite VR offers both teleportation and smooth locomotion, with plenty of comfort settings also available to appease those who might not have their virtual reality bearings yet. Both offer viable ways to enjoy the game, though there’s nothing more satisfying than freely sneaking around using the Quest controllers’ analogue sticks. As a left-hander, I’m happy to report that you can set your dominant hand with ease too, which is something that has been missing in some other first-person titles.
In all, I had a really fun time playing through Sniper Elite VR. Not only are the weapons a blast to use, but the mission variety ensures there are plenty of different things to do across the meaty campaign – both as a stealthy sniper and an all-guns blazing action hero. There’s plenty of replay value to be found too, with extra objectives and end-of-level rankings challenging players to better themselves and try to work their way up the leaderboard. I’m certainly looking forward to coming back for more.
“Not only are the weapons a blast to use, but the mission variety ensures there are plenty of different things to do across the meaty campaign.”
Whilst we reviewed Sniper Elite VR on the Oculus Quest, we were also able to check out the PlayStation VR version of the game to see how that held up. Whilst the resolution wasn’t as clear as on the Oculus Quest, it still managed to look great in-game. Sniper Elite VR deserves praise for its detailed and varied environments, with each level looking the part across both platforms.
PlayStation VR also allows players to use the Aim Controller, which feels fantastic when in the midst of a frantic shootout. It’s one of the most under-appreciated peripherals available on the PlayStation platform, with it suiting first-person shooters perfectly. Believe me, there was something incredibly satisfying about lining up sniper shots when using it, whilst the analogue sticks ensure traversing across the environment feels just as good.
The Move controllers, though? They weren’t as fun to use. Whilst they made it easier to perform manual tasks that required your hands, movement just felt clumsy thanks to the fact that it’s assigned to the face buttons. Whilst this is something we’ve seen in plenty of first-person titles on PlayStation VR in the past, it felt especially awkward after enjoying Sniper Elite VR with the more comfortable Aim or Quest controllers. At least the DualShock 4 is an option, though it’s certainly a less immersive one.
Sniper Elite VR marks a very successful virtual reality transition for Rebellion’s popular series, with the gunplay and mission design proving great throughout. It was SO satisfying pulling off the perfect shot in virtual reality, whilst the multiple approaches to combat and the ranking system ensure that there’s plenty on offer to keep players coming back for more. It just takes everything that’s great about the Sniper Elite series and makes it all the more immersive… what more could you want?
It could be guilty of being a bit fiddly here and there, especially when it came to re-loading, but Sniper Elite VR is otherwise another fantastic addition to the Oculus Quest catalogue. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the series or a newbie looking for some shooting fun, you certainly won’t be disappointed with this action-packed escapade.
Developer: Just Add Water, Coatsink
Platform(s): Oculus Quest 2 (Reviewed), Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Valve Index