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Sniper Elite VR

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Rebellion
Developer: Just Add Water (EU), Rebellion (US)

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.

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PS4/PC Preview - 'Sniper Elite VR'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 4, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Sniper Elite VR is a dedicated VR stealth-action experience where you fight for the Italian Resistance in a daring mission to rid World War 2 Sicily of the Nazi U-boat menace.

My experience with VR is fleeting at best because to me, VR still is in that chicken-and-the-egg scenario. I want to get into VR to be able to more easily experience it in the comfort of my own home, but there aren't enough good VR experiences to tilt the scales enough for me to make the jump. When I checked it out at E3 2019, Sniper Elite VR made a compelling case that maybe, just maybe, the scales have balanced enough.

Playing with the PS4 VR hardware including the gun controller, the single available level in this admittedly very early alpha build of the game involved meeting up with some nameless freedom fighters on a nearby rooftop so we could shoot Nazis. Before getting to that, the game walked me through a few tasks: properly calibrating the view, setting my physical height, and choosing a difficulty level.

Generally, playing Sniper Elite VR is similar to playing any other Sniper Elite game, and that's a good thing. The "Marksman" difficulty setting is in the middle; with this setting, your Focus button lets you slow down time, and you also see a red diamond when aiming on an enemy that shows where the bullet will drop as it travels. Hit a guy in a particularly painful spot, and you get the trademark X-ray camera angle showing their innards becoming the world's least-desirable jam. Shoot an explosive ammo crate or fuel container, and the resulting explosion means there are fewer enemies in the area.


What is absolutely the killer approach here is that it's all in VR. You hold the rifle in your hands exactly like a real rifle. You must hold the scope up to your eye and do so with it properly lined up, or else you can't see down the scope. You can't hold the rifle out too far from your face, as then the scope is far from your view and not nestled nice and close like it should be. Simply the act of scoping in on a target and placing a shot on them feels like a fantastically deliberate and precise motion. It is both very easy to pick up and start doing, and yet it's satisfyingly difficult in the heat of a firefight when you scramble to scope in on someone you hadn't seen before.

You move with one stick and pivot your character with another, both of which are separate from your head, which simply looks around. You can choose to adopt a teleportation method to accommodate those who get motion sick in VR more easily; for me, I chose the free movement option and was quickly sprinting along a war-torn rooftop. With the PS4 VR, I was able to crouch down to take cover, lean around pillars to take shots, and use every square inch of cover to my advantage as I rained lead down into a courtyard kill zone.

Then I tried the "Sniper Elite" difficulty mode and promptly got put in my place. In this higher difficulty, you don't get that handy red diamond, your health pool is lower, and you must also contend with the wind drifting your shots. There is a wind meter at the top of your scope view that shows a rough indication of the wind speed, but it's awfully hard to keep an eye on that during the frenzy of a VR firefight. I suspect you really must embrace crouching and leaning far more than I was doing to survive that mode, and I also suspect I'll be doing so a lot more when the game comes out.

There's no word on any sort of release date quite yet, so suffice it to say that it might be a little while before anyone can get their own experience with Sniper Elite VR. Still, with the promise of an all-new campaign and levels, even the limited experience I had with it cemented it as one of the cooler things I'll have seen at this year's E3. It just felt proper, not a glorified tech demo like some VR games can be but an actual first-person shooter with the pedigree of Sniper Elite behind it. I am very curious to see how its development shapes up and to know when I can once again step into its world.


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