I remember playing Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus back in 2017 and at some stage, series protagonist BJ Blazkowicz getting a Panzerhund to rip the Nazis a new one. It was an incredibly fun sequence that had me thinking, ‘yeah, I can go with some more of that’.
Fast-forward two years and MachineGames with the help of Arkane Studios went one step further, putting you in the pilot seat of a hacker who takes over the Nazi war machines in order to bring the pain. In Virtual Reality. It’s a very simple premise, but that is exactly what Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is.
Oh nein, die Kontrollen sind kaputt
As I already mentioned, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is a spinoff VR game set in the Wolfenstein universe. The story takes place in 1980s Paris, where you, as the Cyberpilot, finds yourself strapped into a chair, and a voice from the resistance instructing you to help them take control of the Nazi’s imposing machines in order to destroy them from within.
The game doesn’t just throw you straight into combat though, as you first must solve a few short, rather easy puzzles in order to get the “hack” going. It might be a good thing though, as motion controls are implemented, and because the execution isn’t great, it can become rather frustrating very quickly. You can only use the Dualshock 4 controller, and at the same time the game wants you to use both hands, using the L2 button for the left and the R2 button for the right hand. But seeing as you only have one source of input, the Dualshock controller, it looks incredibly weird when the hands move in a rigid, always the same distance from each other, manner.
What makes things even worse is that you are tasked to sometimes reach rather far to the left or right in order to grab some tools or items, which forces you to contort your hands in very uncomfortable ways in order to keep showing the lightbar to the PS Camera.
These type of puzzles and clunky controls remain throughout the game, as you will be tasked with these sorts of things between each of the main missions. It feels a lot like filler in order to make a game, that’s very short, feel a lot more substantial. Jumping through a bunch of cumbersome hoops isn’t any person’s idea of fun, especially if it keeps you away from the main reason you’re here, to crack open the skulls of Nazis with a giant robot dog.
The controls while controlling any of the machines you hack into are simple and straightforward, and unlike the clumsy hacking and puzzle solving you got to see before this, work surprisingly well.
Lass den Panzerhund los!
Once you do take control of your first Panzerhund though, things suddenly come together somewhat. First off, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is a damn pretty game. The visuals of the environment and the enemies around you look stunning. The controls while controlling any of the machines you hack into are simple and straightforward, and unlike the clumsy hacking and puzzle solving you got to see before this, work surprisingly well. You use a primary weapon with the R2 button and a secondary with the L2 button. At the same time, you have a special ability ‘Panic Button’ on your left, which you can activate with a downward movement of the controller to the left of you, and you can repair the robot with a similar action to your right while pressing the R2 button. You aim using the motion of the Dualshock 4 controller.
Engaging in combat with Nazis and other machines is a lot of fun, although if you were expecting the same frenetic pace and combat of the Wolfenstein series’ main entries, you might be a bit disappointed. The missions are also rather short, which means it ends just as it starts to get fun. The worst part is that you then must go back to the tedious motion control puzzle solving slow sections that nobody signed up for, which almost felt longer than the actual Nazi killing action.
An underwhelming VR experience
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot steps well into VR, and the controls and systems in place works well in order to make it as comfortable as possible. Not once in the game did I feel nauseous or sick, which is a very good thing. There is one section were there’s some vertical movement added to the missions, which might catch some off-guard a bit, but if you’re somebody with very little issue playing VR, then you won’t have any trouble here.
Unfortunately, it still doesn’t make Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot a good game. It feels more like DLC or a glorified tech demo, and having a game last a little over two hours, half of which is a boring, clunky mess really doesn’t go down too well. I have no issue with it being short, but if it was an action-packed two hours, my opinion might have been a bit different.
There’s a lot of potential for this game, maybe add some missions, and make the in-between stuff less clunky and cumbersome and Cyberpilot might become something special. Regrettably, as it stands now, the game is a rather disappointing and underwhelming VR experience.