What more is there to say about Battlezone right now? The forthcoming PlayStation VR launch title is absolutely a must-own, but you already knew that when we previewed it earlier in the year. This week we were invited back up to Rebellion to feast our eyes on the final build, and our opinion hasn't really changed: the Oxford-based developer's got a hit on its hands.
The thing that immediately struck us about this final version was the menu system. Positioned in the cockpit of your futuristic tank, you're able to physically peer at different screens in order to absorb the information that you need. To the left is lobby information, while to the right there's news about the world of Battlezone. All of this information is displayed on virtual displays, which animate as you interact with them.
And then there's the campaign map directly ahead of you. Battlezone is, for all intents and purposes, a roguelike; you must work your way across a grid, depleting the influence of the enemy while simultaneously upgrading your tank by completing missions which range from hacking designated targets to simply defeating all of the enemies in a specific area.
While not everyone will understand the reference, it reminds us of Virtua Tennis 4's board game-esque career mode. Here you needed to carefully balance your playthrough between training and Grand Slams, and a similar structure is at play here; completing missions will earn you lots of money and enable you to best augment your tank with a wealth of weaponry, but in taking too long to reach your objective, you'll find yourself facing off against increasingly powerful enemies.
You can play through the campaign alone if you like, but it really comes alive in co-op. The most striking thing about playing with other people is the way in which you're physically able to look for them in the battlefield; knowing that you need to heal each other, you're left to frantically search for your comrades by looking around you, which creates a bizarre kind of camaraderie.
And at the heart of all this is an arcade shooter that, quite simply, is fun to play. Augmenting your tank with upgrades as you earn more money gives you a condensed sense of progression, while you can tailor your tank to excel in different categories – healing, shielding, firepower – to create little mini-roles within your squadron. It's just downright fun, and the novelty of being in formation in virtual reality is one that's both compelling and difficult to communicate.
And it just cements our opinion that those of you picking up PlayStation VR on launch day next month simply must own this game. There's a lot of good content slated to come to the headset on 13th October, but Battlezone feels like the most "traditional" title without squandering any of the novelty that virtual reality enables. And in co-op, it quite simply shines.
Are you hyped for Battlezone on PlayStation VR? Has this title tempted you to pick up a virtual reality headset at all? Tank us for the preview in the comments section below.