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.
"Servers can be quiet outside of US hours" lolololololol. Sounds like a positive to me!
All in seriousness, this will be a day one game for me when I get a PSVR2 after reading this review. I was thinking about it, but this cemented it for me.
The social mechanics seem to make this, and make it a no go for me. Being so antisocial with those around me isn’t really an option. Only heard great things though.
Added to the wishlist
I absolutely hate Among Us. I'm gonna skip this one.
I was actually strongly considering this but upon hearing how integrated the social aspect is, no thanks...I think I'd be better off trying to silent solo Zenith than this, and this was to be my alternative to that!
Beyond that the whole "like to people to gain their trust" thing just....that sounds like Corporation Simulator 2023 rather than a fun video game. And I say that as a big Hitman fan.
@thefourfoldroot1 Kinda bummed that this one is social/voice dependent, I really considered it, but if you're looking for a good shooter with similar type gun reloading mechanics, take a look at Light Brigade. It's ugly, there's no getting around it, the resolution looks low for a PS4 game and the settings menu is so low res you can't even read it. And levels are kind of gray-washed in what's supposed to be a fog, which is on purpose but it all comes away looking very very primitive.
However, the gameplay is pretty good. It's a roguelike, with some Souls element to it, not my favorite mix of genres, but it has the WWII weapons, with full reload mechanics like this, and I've been enjoying the loop SO FAR with limited time playing it. It's VERY intense and suspenseful as the "kind of nazis, kind of zombies shadow people things" can't be seen well in the fog, but you hear footsteps, and you have to fumble with reloading real WWII weapons while several of them are shooting at you. It's not an advanced game like this but worth looking at.
I was kinda hoping this would be a prettier alternative to that, but.....social....
I wasn't giving this game a second thought until I read this.
@NEStalgia to be clear, you can play this without voice chat, but TTT is based largely on communication. The other modes are all pretty good too, it's basically counterstrike in VR.
TTT is some of the funniest ***** I've ever played though and the lobbies have been overwhelmingly positive spaces so far.
@maybemaybemaybe Ahh, if the other modes are playable without voice, I can live without TTT (I don't think the concept of the mode is for me anyway!) Not interest in the zombie horde either but the basic DM and WWII modes sounds decent enough. Maybe it's back on the list. Thanks!
Again, people have been praising LB so much, but I admit to being a little put off both by the visuals and the roguelike label. Is it the good kind where you actually improve yourself or your weapons with every run, or the bad kind where you always just reset back to where you started?
I was thinking about after the fall too, but heard that some of that is stupidly difficult solo.
@NEStalgia You're welcome. I've got a big catalogue of release VR2 games but between this and GT7 very few of them have had any of my time this past week haha. Good problem to have though.
no platinum either for those who care
Fair play, the PSVR2 launch has been really strong… credit to Sony for making a niche product very appealing!
@maybemaybemaybe Haha, yeah, I have the same problem. I've actually bought MOST of the launch titles at this point except the horror ones, this, a few rhythm/puzzle games atop the glut I have.... I just can't help myself, lol. Even vacation simulator might end up on my radar!
@thefourfoldroot1 The visuals are definitely bad in Light Brigade. No way to argue it. I mean, in gameplay it kind of works, but there's no reason for it to be so bad. I think they released PS4 and PS5 together, so I'm assuming it's just a base PS4 performance profile at issue, maybe they'll fix it. I can see no reason they woudln't, if it just rendered higher res it would be simplistic but fine. The art style holds up. There's no excuse for a basic poly game to be running in lower res than NMS lol.
I too dislike rogues normally. It's the good kind, though where you improve with whatever XP you manage to claim. Basically you enter a procedurally generated room, and the goal is clear it out. It tells you when the room is clear, and at the exit you can turn in your "souls" DS campfire style, and it gives you your XP for them (you get no XP if you don't get to the reward terminal at the end of the room to exchange souls) You do NOT keep any found upgrades you find (I got a nice laser scope one run, but lost it when I died), but you keep the XP from the rooms you completed. So just doing the first room or two several times before dying several times, I managed to scavenge enough XP to rifleman rank 4 where I was able to upgrade my rifle for 3 rank points back in town before the next run (permanently), so presumably over time I can get powerful enough to get further in runs more reliably, because the starter rifle has bad accuracy. In that sense it's more "grindy RPG" but with a rogue-like design"
The annoying thing is ammo though. Before each run you have to individually pick up like 15 clips and drop them in your belt. That's the only mechanical part of the game that gets old. The actual shooting is very good, and you do have to aim down the ironsights holding it as a real 2 handed rifle..
It's not a perfect game, and I don't love the graphics or rogue design, but it's a good, compelling, and anxiety-inducingly intense shooter. It won't be very smooth like this game though. But it's one I find myself picking up often when cycling through my games even just to play a run or two. (THough I don't have Pavlov yet so this could steal it's thunder for satisfying shooting.) I'd recommend Star wars even at full price before LB though if you want a full campaign shooter experience that's a pretty good shooter and excellent "just below Horizon" visual experience, though very different in feel to LB (and I assume LB and Pavlov have a similar shooting feel.)
Is anyone else having an issue when you stabilize a gun with your off hand? I jumped in again last night and every time I grabbed the guns with my left hand, it immediately pointed downward and I had to try to hold it at a weird placement in order to keep the gun level
@CRASH64 there is definitely more to the game than just TTT. If you like tactical shooters it's a lot of fun as well. I wish there were proper unlocks and some sense of progression even if it's just cosmetic, but there is definitely more to the game. Gun game is a lot of fun too. But if you don't like games like CS(GO), or Firewall, then this probably isn't for you.
@NEStalgia you can definitely get away with not talking but it will be a bit more of a challenge if you come across a team that is working really well together. But as long as you are kind of listening/following the group I'm sure you would be fine. Unless you are John Wick incarnate and you just solo the other team lol. That would work too I guess.
Ok, thanks, that gives me a good impression of what the gameplay loop is like. I think I’d get a little bored of it honestly. For a pick up and shoot for 20 minute game I think I’d prefer zombieland.
Out of interest though, what is the rifle aim like? I’ve always had a bad experience with two handed weapons unless using the aim controller.
I really want you to play Village, but then remember nobody could get me to play a stealth game no matter how good an example of the genre it is. I would say Village is more of a spooky shooter adventure game than horror if that helps.
I think I’m just getting towards the end of CotM btw, what a game!!
@PhantomMenace84 I love CS:GO
@CRASH64 obviously it's a bit different being in VR. I played counter strike more than GO, but from what I remember it's definitely similar. Graphics are about as good as the original too lol.
@thefourfoldroot1 the rifles work like yours expect for their relative real model the starting gun is a German 1930s bolt action gun not exactly known for range and accuracy. You upgrade of course, but I'd say it's a realistic accuracy going by the target range. Pretty good up close, terrible far away, assuming you're actually closing one eye and staring down the sights. I don't have any issues with two handed, even shooting, in actually worse when reloading or walking around with it lol
Haha I've seen the 2d screens and vids...I don't think there's a chance I could play this in vr 😢
I'm taking horizon in small bursts so I don't use it up. I just don't want it to end! I'm up to the thunderjaw in the ruins though.
@NEStalgia The reviewer did put a lot of focus on TTT but honestly that’s a mode you can just skip; I don’t play it myself and just stick to TDM and Search and Destroy. Like others have mentioned you don’t need to talk yourself, just listen or even just see where your teammates go and follow them.
Don’t be discouraged it is a great game and I’m having a blast with it, the gunplay is the best I’ve seen in a VR game!
@PhantomMenace84 It might have something to do with the “virtual stock” option you can toggle on and off in the settings. It virtually stabilises your gun but you have less direct control over it, could be the issue.
@JB_Whiting that's a good idea, I didn't think about that. It worked fine the first time I played but I didn't think to turn it off when I started having issues. I'll have to try that.
@JB_Whiting Thanks for the info! I think I'll probably get it, then.
Pro-tip: as long as there is one bullet in the chamber (when you reload half a clip i.e.), you don't need to cock the gun.
@thefourfoldroot1 I ended up buying this, and told you about the standing requirement even though it says sitting. That said I haven't played it online at all, I messed around in the shooting range a while and that alone has a decent amount of play (there's a WW2 and modern range.). But one thing the review didn't mention is theirs genuine single player. It's not a campaign it's just multiplayer modes with bots but it lets you experience the game without multiplayer. I won't touch the zombie mode but death match and "gun" (keep playing until someone gets one kill with all the weapons including knife, excluding grenades), etc. It's limited to a point but I have to say the game is very pretty and very intense. Definitely a different feel for an fps and in a non scary military shooter environment I had a few jump scares just by turning a hallway and there's someone with an smg. A little too real, very real environments, very intense. It's not something I'd play a lot but it's a real interesting experience.
I'd still say star wars is the better single player game as a campaign shooter, crossfire sounds like it'll have 60 solo missions whenever it launches, but this is a well made "counterstrike/R6 but vr" type thing, and proper single player even if just bot matches makes it a viable game. If a little too real lol
Though I have to say despite hating rogues, light brigade is a game I keep compulsively coming back to despite how ugly it is. It IS difficult though, is a soulsborne vr shooter basically. But I've had fun in my runs and get a little more souls each time.. the devs I think said will be adding foveated rendering, so maybe it'll get better though it shouldn't need it to double the res with how basic the graphics are.
Oh, also, nms seems partly fixed. It's still pretty blurry past the near distance and res is still not what it should be, but the tesselation is fixed and it now looks like a proper PS4 game instead of Minecraft in space with quake 1 textures 😂. I played it a bit more now with real textures and yeah it's still pretty blurry but I think I can sink far too much time into it now.
That’s all good to know. I’m tempted by SW due to your recommendation but can’t get past the feeling it’s overpriced at the moment.
I’ve been trying to stick to one game at a time, and just have a few more challenges to go before getting the plat for Horizon. Great game.
After that I need to sink some time into Demeo. Only played the first couple of levels in the first campaign part before stopping but it’s enjoyable.
NMS I think I’ll skip. Not due to the graphics, just because I’ve already played it. I wish I had waited to play it until it came to VR, but there was no reason to suspect it would do so at release despite thinking from the first screenshots it would be a great VR game.
@thefourfoldroot1 It's funny, because I refuse to pay $70 for new AAA games, and after the hike to 70 I now refuse to pay 60, too (usually.) I generally wait until the sub-$45 sales (except for Soul Hackers 2 because I waited so long and thought it would never happen, and then it's in bargain bins 6 mo later lol.) I even wait on Yakuza (but the darn Lost Judgment DLC will bite me.)
But somehow $50 doesn't feel like too much for that SW game. It's the only campaign shooter on PSVR2, it's a fun one rather than srs, and it feels like one of the "big" games next to Horizon, GT7, RE8, and NMS. I mean I'd rather have paid less, obviously, but it doesn't feel wrong for it to be a "full" priced game because it feels like what a "full priced game" was back when full priced games were $50 in the PS360's PC era (when games like SW Republic Commando or whatever it was, and Quake 4 were new.) You're probably right to wait and get it cheaper, I'm sure it'll go on sale, but it's not necessarily overpriced. It's weird because I almost didn't buy it because the review went on about how dated it was, and the trailers looked ancient, and then I played the demo, which is taken from the "bad" part, and thought it was darned good.
Totally different than Pavlov though. The shooting in SW feels really good and action-adventure-shooter-y, the shooting in Pavlov is just....really really intense, because you really can't take much damage, headshots are instakill, and since it's real world based once you see the enemy, it's kind of too late if you didn't shoot first. Sure it's just deathmatch, but in VR DM is very different....
I made it up to Nora territory in Horizon....I find it funny that stealthing in the grass from watchers comes AFTER taking down a thunderjaw....somebody didn't plan the pacing well, lol.
I have to get back to Demeo, I keep picking it up, getting my rear handed to me by swarms of enemies, and switching games, lol. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong yet, but I'm definitely unskilled there. I did notice that if you zoom in the stamps on pieces are clear, so the "blur" might actually be the zoomed out view just doing weird AA and texture filtering things which isn't uncommon.
Another game I'm kind of surprised with is Townsmen, it might be a short game, but that was one of the very first ones I bought onthe pre-launch sale, and played it launch day briefly, wasn't in the mood, and then picked up again the other day, and I'm addicted. It's one of the prettier games, and it's basically like an RTS-lite without pressure. I kind of wish there was more of it.
I like all my games, and I think I've ended up buying almost everything that's not horror and doesn't require roomscale from the launch lineup. Even Fantavision (overpriced, looks like a PS2 upscale because it is a PS2 upscale..... but very addictive and pleasant in VR....RIP Japan Studio!) Even bought Cities!
LOL I even bought Onogoro after all I'm actually enjoying it so far! It's a nice world to be in in VR2 and the shooting puzzles are more satisfying than I thought.
NMS, I know the graphics are still imperfect, but that game is going to consume me after all. IDK, I definitely get it, it's huge and if I already played it I'd be burned out too, let alone grinding for platinums (you know how I feel about that! ), but...idk....it's like a whole other game in VR....very different....that's like the VR game other than GT7 that just goes on endlessly.
That’s a lots of games! Glad you are enjoying them all though.
Before getting SW, I have to consider that I also have Switchback paid for coming in a week or so, and then S&S ch1 upgrade which Is like a new game to me (I stopped playing it on PSVR1 very quickly due to janky controls). Both of those should satisfy my single player shooter itch, by which time I imagine there would have been another sale on where I’ll pick up a few games.
I do like that most VR games are no more than £40, most much less. I do wonder whether that’s only because many are flat or quest ports though, and if they will be more in future. I guess it depends on whether they are made for VR2 or not, and how good quest 3 sells.
@thefourfoldroot1 Yeah you do have RE8 which is a "big" game and Switchback that sort of is big-ish in your mix, that I don't, so SW wouldn't be as prominent for you, I do tend to forget that!
I think the pricing is just a mix of the fact that these are ports of old-ish games from weak-ish systems and small indies that are always around that price range. I think that $50-60 price range is where any "bigger" games (like/including Astrobot 2) will land. I don't think we'll see the $70 of open world games though. At least not yet.
Plus Quest sets some of the price point since it's a mobile platform technically, it's hard to get people to spend full budget, though SW is a $50 game, and that's produced or published by Occulus itself, so I think the pricing will definitely jump overall, but so far only Sony's willing to push $60 on Horizon, and even that's $50 if you get it with the headset which is now most players will be getting it.
Edit: Synth Riders full deluxe edition takes the price though with a $90 complete edition that's like $110 if you buy the DLC later after the base game. The only think in VR pushing Ubisoft pricing lol. (I know, it's because music licensing fees, but still...)
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