When Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond launched exclusively on PC-based virtual reality headsets late last year, I couldn’t help but to feel a little bit envious – especially since it was heralded as one of the biggest titles coming from Oculus Studios. I’m an Oculus Quest 2 owner who doesn’t have a fancy PC to play so I just had to skip it, which was a real shame.
Well, we might have had to wait close to a year, but the first-person shooter is now available on the Oculus Quest 2, giving gamers the chance to immerse themselves in the brutality of World War II in both single and multiplayer action on the stand-alone headset. Was it worth the wait? I think so, even if it’s clear that some sacrifices were made to make it work.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond features both a meaty single player campaign and multiplayer modes to play through, so there’s something to satisfy whatever first-person shooting itch you might have. It was the campaign that I was most excited to get stuck into though, especially since the Oculus Quest catalogue is a little bare when it comes to cinematic shooters.
The campaign sees players travelling across Europe as they complete a multitude of missions, with the player certainly finding themselves in the heart of the action at all times. There’s a real cinematic presence to be felt across these missions too, with Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond embracing the player in its storytelling. Whilst you’ll find yourself immersed in the danger of storming the beaches of Normandy, you’ll also share interactions with characters in-between as you learn more about the plan of action to take out the Nazi threat.
The only issue with this is that the pacing could be a little off at times, especially when transitioning between missions. Whilst it’s hardly a game-breaking issue, the way that sequences were pieced together could feel like a mish-mash of scenes as opposed to a flowing narrative. The game can be cutscene-heavy at times too, with a lot of listening and watching taking place between the bursts of action. But hey, you won’t worry about that too much when you’re on the battlefield shooting Nazis, sabotaging U-boats, or involved in a manic ski chase across a snowy Norway.
“It almost feels like Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond took a ‘best ideas of virtual reality’ checklist and ticked every box off, with each level giving the player something thrilling to do.”
The action of the campaign is genuinely great, with the frantic set-pieces and brutal shootouts really immersing the player in the brutality of war. The gunplay is solid and it feels good to shoot at foes, there’s plenty of variety with the locations you explore, whilst your objectives are varied and take advantage of everything virtual reality offers. It almost feels like Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond took a ‘best ideas of virtual reality’ checklist and ticked every box off, with each level giving the player something thrilling to do. It’s a blast.
Whether you’re hiding behind cover in a shoot-out, patiently lining up shots using your sniper rifle, or soaring through the skies and blasting at enemy planes, the sheer variety on offer ensures there’s plenty of fun to be had in the game. It took me around nine hours to beat it too, so it’s certainly on the longer side as far as virtual reality shooters are concerned.
What’s most impressive though is the fact that it runs so well on the Oculus Quest 2. Now it’s worth getting your expectations in check because it’s clear that the visuals have been given quite a downgrade in the transition from PC VR. A lot of the character models don’t look as detailed, environments aren’t as busy and have a few sketchy textures, whilst some of the fancy visual effects are gone too. It doesn’t stop Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond from looking decent though, with some of the sights still proving mighty impressive even with less pizazz than before. Just maybe don’t look at a comparison video, because Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is one of the best-looking titles on PC VR and you might feel a little bit of technology envy.
“Whether you’re hiding behind cover in a shoot-out, patiently lining up shots using your sniper rifle, or soaring through the skies and blasting at enemy planes, the sheer variety on offer ensures there’s plenty of fun to be had in the game.”
Whilst the single player campaign felt like the star of the show, there’s also multiplayer on offer for those who prefer more competitive action. There are five game modes on offer including favourites such as Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, and Domination, whilst the twelves maps ensure that there are plenty of locales to battle across. Admittedly, I didn’t expect to find myself spending much time in multiplayer, but it’s actually really addictive. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t offer the intricacies of other multiplayer virtual reality titles and a lack of a progression system might put off players for the long-term, but it was good fun to enter a few fast-paced shootouts that felt more akin to the old-school first-person shooters than anything else. The biggest issue will come down to whether or not it can support a healthy community of players – with the promise of post-launch support, I’m hoping it’s something I’ll be able to keep coming back to.
If you do want an arcade-like fix that’s less intense, you could always jump into the game’s Survival Mode. As expected, this is all about gunning down waves of a Nazi onslaught, with different modifiers affecting the experience. It’s a nice way to experience the gunplay of the game, but it’s less exciting than both the campaign and multiplayer modes.
“One thing that’s worth mentioning is that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond comes with a pretty big file size, with the game coming it at around 42GB.”
One of the things I liked the most about Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond was that it never felt finicky to play. As mentioned, it really embraces the versatility offered by motion controls in virtual reality and there’ll be plenty of moments where you’ll have to physically grab at items or move your body to keep out of the way of gunfire, but it always feels comfortable and accessible. It’s the same with reloading, which has the player manually load up ammo, but keeps it a simple process that doesn’t disrupt the shooting action. I’ve played a few games that have tried to hard to be realistic with actions like these and it’s often to the detriment of the gameplay, but Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond gets a nice balance where players will never be too overwhelmed.
One thing that’s worth mentioning is that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond comes with a pretty big file size, with the game coming it at around 42GB. If you’re playing on the 64GB version of the Oculus Quest 2 headset, that’s not going to leave you too much room for other titles – it’s something I found out the hard way. It’s not a deal breaker, but it might be something that’ll put players off keeping the game installed in the long-term.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond Review
It might not look as pretty as its PC VR counterpart, but Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond still feels great to play on the Oculus Quest 2. The variety of exciting set pieces found in the campaign will keep players thrilled from start to end, whilst the multiplayer offers an enjoyable competitive fix that’s just as satisfying to play as the campaign.
It is a shame that the multiplayer doesn’t have a deep progress system for players to embrace, the the pacing of the campaign could be a bit weird at times, and the chunky file size is a put off, but there’s no doubting that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is a blast to play. Some sacrifices have been made in the transition to the Oculus Quest 2, but they haven’t stopped it from being a must-play title for headset owners.
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Publisher: Oculus Studios, EA
Platform(s): Oculus Quest 2 (Reviewed), Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index