Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot was first announced at E3 2018 along with a tech demo for the press to try out. I heard about this game briefly at the 2018 Bethesda E3 Conference along with the more in-depth look at Fallout 76….
ANYWAY, Cyberpilot was announced along with Youngblood as spin-offs of the Wolfenstien series. Both are set in a 1980s cyberpunk style which I knew would be perfect for a vaporwave focused blog. However, the game is VR meaning you will need either a Vive, Occulus, or a PlayStation VR headset to play it.
I got my own headset not to long ago and I’ve been playing several games on it as well as the demos to see what are the best and worst aspects of VR in general. Not to get too into the debate of Virtual Reality, I would say my experience has been positive to mixed but this depends on if the game in question was designed from day one with VR in mind. I think games that were made for VR later on or was never the original intention of the game when it was in development can be really hit or miss as the transition from controller/keyboard to a VR set up doesn’t always work as well as intended by the developers.
Virtual Reality is still a concept that has had many misses in the general public thus it has found its place as of recently with more niche video game crowd which is obviously not what big companies like Microsoft and Sony wants. Its still something that is undergoing a lot of experimentation and not every gamer is willing to invest in it just yet, but with technology getting better each year, I can easily see VR becoming more and more common place. They are slowly starting to pick up in arcade and entertainment venues which seems to be working well. In fact last year, it was announced that VR World Inc (a popular VR entertainment Arcade) was expending to multiple US cities and expanding their NYC location.
We also had the launch of the Occulus Quest, an all-in-one headset with no tethering to a computer which has been making waves in the industry. Some speculate that it may be the break the VR market needs to raise adoption rates as well as encourage more games to be made for the units. I do hope that ends up being the case because I really like the idea of them.
It won’t replace traditional console and PC gaming but I can envision it would be a welcome option especially as time goes on, that is if VR becomes cheaper down the road. In my opinion, the price is clearly a major barrier for most consumers. Now lets get back into the game itself.
What is the Game About?
Cyberpilot is a first person shooter in a VR (virtual reality) only set up and a spin-off of the popular Wolfenstien series by Bethesda Software. Specifically this is a spin off from the The New Colossus plot-line.
The game takes place in 1980 Paris (just a week or so before the events in Wolfenstein: Young Blood) where the French Resistance is trying to stop the Nazis with their plans. You play as the “cyberpilot”, an expert hacker who using a virtual cockpit can take control of various war machines the resistance managed to steal. You take control of a total of three machines, the Panzerhund, a Drone, and a Zitadelle.
You’re joined by two unseen people in your journey, Maria (also a hacker and part of the resistance) and Jemma which may be an AI as we never see or hear a human voice from her. She only speaks in texts on a screen near you.
How is the Gameplay?
Now to the actual game itself, for the record I used a PlayStation VR headset as that is what I own currently. The game is in a first person perspective and you sit in a chair for the most part while using both of the PS Move controllers to move around your main base as well as control the robots.
Your two controllers look like flight stick controllers on the screen when piloting a robot but they don’t act anything like that. Its more of a point and shoot situation where you point the flamethrower on the panzerhund at enemies as with the Zitadelle, just aim and fire. You also can repair your mech by moving your controller into the repair port on the right side of your chair and holding it for a few seconds as your health bar is below the main window panel in front you and displayed by a series if lights. The more lights that are lit up, the higher your health is. Its very straight forward. The only other game mechanic is in the drone. The drone can preform sneak attacks on enemy soldiers using an electrical attack and can also hack into other computers. You do this by twisting the controller back and forth three times as a mini-game.
The control set up is also weird. You move back and forth by pressing and holding the move button on the front. One controls does back and the other down forward. You also cannot swivel your robot or person left to right easily, you have to press the square or circle button you turn your character in a circle. It doesn’t even move smoothly it just shifts you as if your character is in the center of an octagon. It makes no sense as in the drone section, you move the controller up and down to control vertical movement, its smooth and accurate. Why couldn’t left or right be the same? Finally you shoot either of your weapons using the T button and that is about it.
The concept is certainly interest on paper, but in execution the gameplay is very boring the AI was hardly challenging. You just point at enemies and kill them with fire or missiles. Same with much stronger enemies. No strategy, just shooting. With the repair function, its so easy to go into cover for repair for a second then back into the action. You don’t find health or any power-ups during each level. I only died a few times but after I figured out where the enemies spawned which never changed at all. I was able to out maneuver them and find spots where I can just fire and only suffer minimal damage. They never change their spawn and there are almost no surprises where they will turn up.
Would I Recommend it?
This game is a mixed bag but I wouldn’t recommend it.
While there are aspects of the game that are fun like the drone section which was the only truly different level, the wonky control set up and boring gameplay are not enough to justify buying it.
The graphics and resolution are also pretty bad too. After reading some feedback from other players, the low resolution was a major complaint as people got headaches and couldn’t play the game at all in some cases. I myself got a decent amount of eye strain as the game seemed to be too blurry at some points. Even after making sure my headset was properly adjusted and trying out some other VR games to make sure it wasn’t me, which I confirmed, I still had issues with Cyberpilot at times. I had to stop at points just to prevent a migraine. However, some players who claimed they used the Occulus or a PC tethered VR headset was able to improve this as the game seems to default to the lowest resolution possible. The PlayStation VR system could just be a bad port overall but that seems to fix the issue for some. So keep this in mind if you have as much more powerful VR system your overall experience may be different then mine was.
The color palette and look for a game set in a cyber-mech world of the 1980s was not at all impressive and felt bland. I would have assumed they would have made the game slightly more flashy and the colors shown in the trailer for some reason didn’t seem all the vibrate in the actual game which I felt a little cheated about to be honest. The cars, details, and locations in general look washed out and low resolution. I don’t have a massive problem with it per-say but I feel they could have done a tiny bit better. Youngblood which came out at the same time had more effort put into the style to make it a Wolfenstein game but several decades in the future. That was not the case in Cyberpilot. The only thing that made think I was in the 1980s was the virtual training section. Everything else, if you told me it was 1960 or whatever I would have bought it. There was no effort in the world-building or anything.
Also to note, the story was bland too. I could barely follow the characters and it was just a cop out story about completing a mission. The voice acting was okay but nothing to write home about. I didn’t care about the story or anything about the mission, it was easy to ignore and mediocre at best. Its a shame as the series always had an interesting fictional world and story to boot.
The panzerhund section was the most disappointing, not fun and easy to defeat enemies especially since the solider AI isn’t that great. It was just shoot fire and ram enemies until they died. Not as exciting as I originally hoped.
The drone section was by far my favorite part as I really liked that I had to sneak into their research lab and one or two hits from an enemies solider would take down my drone. This was the only section where timing and carefully maneuvering was imperative. I wish most of the game was like that as they seem to put a lot of work into that section and was for the most part, enjoyable.
The Zitadelle was also fine but nothing special, I wish they expanded on it a bit more as killing enemies was pretty easy especially with the repair feature and was hardly different from the panzerhund. I just shoot down enemies, moved to cover to then repair if needed, and right back to shooting. The enemies were easy to defeat. Nothing spectacular.
More about the Developer
I usually talk more about the developer in my reviews/articles but I don’t think that is 100% necessary as Bethesda is a huge company with lots of information available about them that could easily fill an entire book especially with their recent events.
Cyberpilot was published by Bethesda Softworks but the developers are actually MachineGames and Arkane Studios. MachineGames are of course the developers behind Wolfenstien The New Order in 2014 and have developed the installments to the series up to this point. Arkane Studios are most famous for their work on Dishonored. Both of these companies are subsidiaries of ZeniMax Media which is the parent company for Bethesda Softworks and pretty much all the companies that they own or partnered with worked on properties like Doom, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and so on.
As many of us know, with Bethesda Softworks getting the brunt of the attention, the company’s last couple of games have been poorly received including YoungBlood and now the infamous Fallout 76. I’m not going to talk about it here but just making a general statement that ties with Cyberpilot. That being that like those other two games, Cyberpilot is an underwhelming experience. Also it feels…unfinished. The story just ends and the controls feel unfinished where up and down is smooth but left and right works completely different and is super hard to use without smashing into a wall.
It feels like they really dropped the ball with this game. It had so much potential and could have been a lot better. I am going to be a bit forgiving as VR, as we have it now, is still a new-ish technology and not a lot of developers have tons of experience in making games for it just yet.
Yet for $20 and at max two hours worth of gameplay, its low resolution/graphical issues, and mundane gameplay, its not something I would recommend. Not to mention, they are a triple A studio, I would hope they have far more understanding in how to make a VR game or give it to a team that would know what to do. According to their past games, neither team has put out a VR game previously so it makes sense why their first attempt would be kind of terrible and feel almost unfinished.
This should have been a $10 game or if they just made it shorter (dropped the story completely) but focused way more to make it like an arcade-isk experience with a focus on making the controls and gameplay better as well as a more sophisticated AI that would provide a better challenge.
Sadly this is a thumbs down from me, don’t bother unless your a mega fan of Wolfenstein and just want to add this to your collection. Yet even then, I don’t think fans would be into this. There is hardly a story and even of you knew nothing about the series, a new player would gain nothing from it.
Solid Pass from me.
If you want to try it, its on the PlayStation VR store, Steam’s Vive, and an Occulus version exists. Maybe wait for a sale before picking it up if you really want to try it.