Ask anyone that has a PSVR2 and they’ll likely tell you that the tech is great, but the library is lacking. Outside of No Man's Sky or Resident Evil Village, there are very few games that truly revel in the format of VR. However, a recent visit to Vertigo Games’ HQ in Rotterdam proved that VR is in the blood of the developer’s upcoming title Arizona Sunshine 2. After going hands-on with a PC build of the game, we were left dying for the full release of what could be PSVR2's next must-buy.
For those out of the know, Arizona Sunshine is a VR zombie shooter that launched back in 2016 on the PSVR. Featuring a sun-bleached post-apocalypse, a Zombieland irreverence, and a penchant for over-the-top gore, it quickly accumulated a cult following. Fans of the first game will be glad to know that seven years and a whole VR generation later, all the hallmarks of Arizona Sunshine are present in its sequel - along with some massive improvements.
Our demo starts on a dusty front yard of a rundown trailer. Buddy, the friendly German Shepherd playfully approaches with a zombie arm in his mouth. Reaching down, we pick up the arm and toss it, playing a game of zombie-tinged fetch. While it's an immediate showcase of the game’s dark sense of humour, for us it marks the first of many interactive elements of this demo which showcase how much Vertigo Games gets VR as a format.
From shopping trolleys that we collected zombie parts in to books that have to be left on top of buttons to open doors, Arizona Sunshine 2 is a far cry from the lacking interactivity of something like Firewall Ultra. Almost every interaction requires some kind of physical movement, which not only amplifies immersion but also just makes for a far more fun experience. The team were keen to stress that if it wasn’t interactable, they didn’t want it in their game, and they seem to have held up their end of the bargain.
A massive improvement over its predecessor lies in the shooting mechanics. Instead of a gesture for reloading, you’ll now remove and replace magazines, pull back barrels, flip rifles, and keep track of ammunition. The shooting itself feels pinpoint, and after a short time reloading becomes second nature. The devs later told us that you're able to toss magazines in the air and catch them with your gun, so there is room for play with this new manual reload mechanic. However, that doesn’t mean this zombie apocalypse is a walk in the park. It's easy to become flustered when your clip runs out and you have a half dozen zombies chomping away at you.
That's where our favourite mode of zombie killing comes in. From bats to machetes, melee combat and limb detachment is phenomenal. We reckon our demoist was a little concerned when we removed every limb on an already dead zombie just to see how far we could take it. There’s a nice weightiness to weapons, and it often takes a couple of swings before a leg or head will come loose, and the skin tearing detail is gruesomely brilliant.
Mixing both the melee and shooting mechanics together makes for a hectic concoction of bloody action. As we approach the final confrontation of our demo, we're locked and loaded - pistols in their holsters, rifles over our back, and a trusty blade in our strong swinging arm. Swiftly, hordes of zombies surround us and the situation quickly devolves into something straight out of The Walking Dead. Surrounded, we're in our element popping off headshots at close range and lodging blades in skulls. The frenetic energy is palpable, and it only elevates as our melee weapons break, and we accidentally drop pistol clips. Arizona Sunshine 2 gives you the room to make mistakes with its gameplay, and it is all the better for it.
Amplifying all of this is the game’s graphical presentation. Arizona Sunshine 2 looks stunning in the goriest kind of way, even more so thanks to its vibrant colour palette. What surprises most though, is how much detail remains when you get up close and personal with various objects and background details. You can decapitate a zombie, pick up its head, and bring it right up to you and it will still hold an astounding level of detail. It is genuinely impressive, and it leaves us all the more eager to check out the PSVR2 version, which can only be amplified by its 4K HDR panels and foveated rendering. Similarly, we’re keen to see how well haptics and adaptive triggers are implemented.
The big question looming over Arizona Sunshine 2 is whether it will be worth the wait. Truthfully, it is hard to come to any conclusions since we didn’t get a real sense of the scale of this project, we didn’t hear much of anything about its co-op offering, and as we mentioned, we’ve still to see how well the thing plays on PSVR2. However, from the small snippet of time we did have with the game, we had a ton of fun. Arizona Sunshine 2 nails that interactivity that makes VR so special. And with its improvements to shooting and reloading, we can’t wait to go full John Wick on some zombies. We have our fingers crossed that Arizona Sunshine 2 will shine bright and establish itself as a must-buy for VR enthusiasts.
Are you ready for some zombie-killing fun with Arizona Sunshine 2? Let us know down in the comments.