Pavlov VR has nestled itself among the roster of PSVR2 launch games, crossing from PC to console for the first time. On the surface, this tactile online shooter is all about the guns, with everything from heavy-hitting snipers to revolvers. In our first session with the game, we were starry-eyed over the immersive reload mechanics, bolstered by the far improved tracking tech of Sony’s VR headset. However, delving deeper into the game's variety of modes, Pavlov VR proved to be one of the best VR experiences available to PlayStation players.
On the surface, there’s nothing to write home about with Pavlov VR. Its collection of offline and online modes range from classics like team deathmatch to more manic zombies modes. All of these in isolation are fun, if maybe a little uninventive, and really just act as showcases for the game’s impressive gun mechanics.
You’ll want to spend a bit of time coming to grips with the various reload processes in the gun range, which cover your basic magazine replacements to bolt-action reloads on snipers. It might take a little getting used to, but once you’ve spent an hour or two messing around in the shooting range and experimenting in actual matches, everything will begin to feel natural.
This was one of the first impressive feats of Pavlov VR. So many VR games are bogged down with clunky control schemes, and the counter is typically to oversimplify. It can be especially disappointing when you are upgrading to the PSVR2 in the hope of more immersive and technically proficient controls. Thankfully, Pavlov VR bucks that trend by going all out with its impressive and satisfying feel to both gun handling and reloading. Being in the middle of a fight and quickly swapping out a mag and cocking back the gun feels fantastic. Messing around with its mixture of both modern and WW2 inspired weaponry, left us gawking over the level of details, too. You’ll easily coast across your first five hours with the game just in awe of how great it feels, and specifically how cool you’ll feel as you duck, weave, and blast away during shootouts.
Impressive reload mechanics are only going to entertain you for so long, however. Once that honeymoon period fizzles out, what makes Pavlov VR worth sticking with? The likes of team deathmatch and search and destroy are fun yet thin experiences. The zombies mode is almost scary, at least for a while, but it lacks progression or a true escalating difficulty. There aren’t even any levelling systems or upgrade paths to facilitate a basic gameplay loop. Yet despite all of that Pavlov VR has remained one of our most played PSVR2 games since its launch, and it’s all down to one mode.
TTT is the Among Us-styled game mode where, in lobbies of 10, a handful of players will be assigned the traitor role with the aim of killing off the rest of the innocents. There are some variants to this with the detective, tank, hypnotist, lone wolf, and mercenaries roles, but for the sake of simplicity, you basically have around seven innocents and three traitors, and only the traitors know who their teammates are.
Where things get really interesting though is with the game's social features. With both in-game voice chat and of course the physical presence granted by VR, TTT is a hilarious experience where lying and itchy trigger fingers are commonplace. Having to somehow convince your (potentially) fellow innocents that you are in fact innocent too can lead to brilliant group debates. And on the flip side, trying to trick your next victim into trusting you is about the best social fun you can have without playing with your own squad of friends.
Pavlov VR is one of the first gaming experiences we’ve had where we’ve willingly jumped into game chat, and it's pretty much essential. Granted this does leave your levels of fun at the whims of those you are joining, but we found lobbies to be pretty accepting, playing the game correctly, and more than willing to have a joke around as the round-based bullsh*ttery began.
It was so much fun that we definitely played way more than was necessary to carry out this review. In fact, whenever we had a free hour or two in the evenings, we’d be jumping into a few matches of TTT, and we suspect that will continue to be the case for quite some time. Holding up suspicious individuals or nervously watching how someone is holding their gun just encapsulated everything we love about VR, and not having to think about how to control the game just made it even better.
The only issue you may have is finding the right server. Playing in a group of two, we’d often have to spend several minutes trying to find one that could fit us both. Of course, you have the option to start your own, but you are then left hoping that it fills up promptly. With us being here in the UK, we found that servers really livened up when the US crowd began to log on.
Pavlov VR is a must-have among Sony’s current roster of PSVR2 launch titles. With a variety of modes to try, and impressive gun mechanics to mess around with, it proves what’s possible when you get VR controls right. And with a killer mode in TTT, the Pavlov experience is elevated to hysterical levels as you lie and manipulate your way to victory. This is the gun-toting VR Among Us experience we've been waiting for.