When gaming on a traditional console or PC setup, I've always been drawn towards shooter titles. With a wide variety of compelling factors, action-based games have managed to solidify their place in my standard gaming habits. However, in the time I've spent with virtual reality, today's current offering of shooters has lacked both the depth and innovation to leave playing for a significant period.
Arizona Sunshine has received its fair share of praise in the months leading up to its launch, after a relatively long period of time in public eyes. Even being demoed as a part of the HTC Vive's initial reveal trailer, the game has gained the reputation of being one of this year's most anticipated virtual reality experiences. But how does Arizona Sunshine stack up to these expectations? In most instances, remarkably.
Offered in a more polished state than most shooters, Arizona Sunshine is packed with several portions of content that create a cohesive package. Both a single-player campaign and Horde mode are on offer, each supporting online cooperative multiplayer.
Solely due to its approach to basic shooter mechanics, Arizona Sunshine diverges from a significant portion of the existing HTC Vive library. While some of today's biggest VR shooters heavily rely on wave-based combat in a small rotation of arenas, Arizona Sunshine conveys an expansive, vivid wasteland.
Each level is packed with areas to explore and loot to discover
This open-ended design can be likened to today's biggest triple-A shooters, with larger, more open-ended levels with linear progression in the long term. While there's only a single route and objective as the main protagonist, each level is packed with areas to explore and loot to discover. Level design had the potential to be bland being set in the barren wastelands of southwest America, but each level is littered with content that adds a unique flair of personality. The game does seem to have a lack of interactable objects in its environments, but this is only a minor gripe in Vertigo Game's approach to design.
The game's design also feeds into its pacing, which is notably most consistent and balanced than many other virtual reality shooters. With narrative, humor, and puzzles each worked into the single-player campaign, this gives players short breaks from combat. Missions are also divided into smaller sections, which not only accommodate for loading but also help divide the game up for shorter play sessions.
The narrative and world-building aren't key focuses of Arizona Sunshine, but they're a welcome layer of depth upon its gameplay. Its self-narrating protagonist inserts a flair of humor into an otherwise dire premise and manages to create a level of personality that skews the game towards a less serious tone.
Arizona Sunshine is undeniably a step in the right direction for VR shooters
Arizona Sunshine also takes some different approaches to combat, eliminating some of the unnecessary paradigms that emerged in virtual reality titles. One of the most welcome changes is the inclusion of an automatic reload, which doesn't require the magazine to be manually loaded into rifles. Although this might not be a step forward in terms of immersion, it streamlines gameplay for a faster-paced experience. Other common traits such as motion-controlled aiming and teleportation are still present but don't needlessly complicate the core experience. While I wouldn't go out of my way to praise Arizona Sunshine for its combat, its streamlined and polish state only add to its value.
If I had one major criticism of Arizona Sunshine, it would simply be the inclusion of teleportation for movement. While several other popular titles still use this system, some of the most interesting experiences have introduced new methods for greater consistency. Sure, it's a system that is familiar across many VR titles, but its inclusion reduces what would otherwise be flawlessly sleek and streamlined gameplay.
I'm an avid enthusiast of virtual reality shooters, having played my fair share over the past year. As a growing technology with increasing competition, the paradigms for approaching various genres are still to be established. Arizona Sunshine is undeniably a step in the right direction for VR shooters, feeling like a title truly built for the platform.
As a game of undeniably high quality, several interesting and refined ideas have been brought together into a single experience. Departing from the trend of dull wave-based or on-rail shooters, it's the overall package of Arizona Sunshine which justifies its value.
- Overall robust and polished experience
- Great gunplay mechanics
- Diverse and detailed world
- Teleportation can hurt the game's flow
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