After its release alongside the Sony's PlayStationVR headset last year, Battlezone is a title I've always wanted to see on other platforms. While the game never offered deep motion controls or hugely innovative concepts, it remains as an example of a simple idea that flourishes with the aid of virtual reality.
Battlezone has now hit the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, bringing its fast-paced tank battles to desktop virtual reality. And while a huge amount hasn't changed during the transition, the game still stands out as a complete and fast-paced VR title.
A classic revived for the modern age
Adopting a 'Tron-like' style of low-poly assets and vibrant colors, the game's Atari roots still shine through.
Reviving a 1980s classic which barely tackled the concept of three-dimensional environments, Battlezone brings back an iconic concept with some major developments. Adopting a 'Tron-like' style of low-poly assets and vibrant colors, the game's Atari roots still shine through.
This sleek styling also extends to gameplay, through its simple core concept which transitions smoothly into a virtual reality setup. While its main mechanics are simple at their core, this makes for a polished and fluid feel to both movement and combat situations.
Putting players in the first-person view of a tank, Battlezone lets players roam the battlefield while completing various objectives. Whether playing through on its cooperative multiplayer or single-player modes, you'll be speeding through the frontlines and clearing out enemies on your adventures. Nimble tanks, balanced weaponry, and tight controls all complement one another and form the basis of Battlezone's streamlined combat scenarios. With consistency in every encounter, there's an unmatched level of polish rarely seen in today's virtual reality titles.
From the moment you jump inside a tank, even Battlezone's controls feel natural for any avid fan of traditional console shooters. Using the left stick to control movement and the right to control your tank's aim, controls feed tight and streamlined in accordance with gameplay. Although the purity of the core gameplay is a huge factor, Rebellion has done a great job at delivering a responsive and natural control layout.
Battlezone is simply well-crafted tank shooter – only elevated by its virtual reality offerings.
Over the course of Battlezone's campaign, you'll work your way across a virtual board-like menu, divided up into short linear missions. This board adds a top-down RTS element to mission selection, with opportunities to choose your mission path based on your current situation. The overall board represents a complete campaign, however, being split up, breaks the game up into small, consumable bite-sized missions. Additions like these show Battlezone's attention to VR users, by allowing for short breaks in between clear divisions between game levels.
These missions explore a wide range of locations – many which stand out with their own unique color palettes. From traditional neon-lined worlds to more organic scenes, there's a range of locations to be explored through Battlezone. However, the course of gameplay is sometimes interrupted by the maps themselves, with multi-tier maps breaking up the flow of gameplay.
Outside of Battlezone's conflict, you'll also be given the opportunity to tweak both your armaments and cosmetic aspects of your tank. By earning credits throughout missions, you can choose an upgrade path based on your personal preferences and invest in gadgets that aid your play style. This also extends to more passive enhancements like improved armor and improved reloads, using the same credit currency.
Although retaining the simplicity of the original game's concept, the inclusion of both multiplayer and virtual reality support only improves the Battlezone experience.
Being locked inside a stationary cockpit, this somewhat limits the depth and interactivity of Battlezone's VR environments. However, by doing so the game almost eliminate potential motion sickness entirely, which can be a common issue with seated virtual reality experiences. Rather than leveraging interesting technologies or an innovate use of a VR headset, Battlezone is essentially just a great multiplayer experience at its core.
Battlezone isn't a game that needed to be in VR and honestly, not one that hugely improves with VR support either. However, that's not to say the game isn't a great fit for these platforms, with a proven concept translating well to a fully immersive environment. Battlezone is simply well-crafted tank shooter – only elevated by its virtual reality offerings.
- Smooth, fast-paced gameplay
- Appealing art style
- Simple but captivating progression
- Levels can get stale over time
- $39.99 price tag is a little high