Even to die-hard fans, Wolfenstein Cyberpilot will likely be seen as a disappointment and a missed opportunity.
Virtual reality is in a bit of a weird spot right now. On one hand, you have developers creating some groundbreaking and innovative games such as Beat Saber, Blood & Truth, and Astro Bot. Then, on the other hand, there are other developers who aren’t diving in headfirst to come up with some interesting games in this realm. And sadly, Wolfenstein Cyberpilot has fallen into the latter area.
Even though the game takes place in what I think is one of the most imaginative and interesting environments in gaming right now, Cyberpilot felt more like a quick cash grab that is still relying on the VR tech to wow the player rather than the actual game being what is impressive.
We are many years into the VR marketplace now and most players who will potentially be picking up Wolfenstein Cyberpilot have almost certainly played a game in virtual reality before. In today’s medium, if your game is still relying on the coolness factor of just being in virtual reality to entertain the player, that probably isn’t a good sign. Picking things up and moving them around with the PS Move wands was cool back when the console released. Now, it’s just kind of standard.
The first problem I had with this VR spin-off was how long it felt to actually get into the action. At the start of the game, players will be introduced to a bit of the backstory on why you are in the spot you are in and set up a bit of the story. Next, you will traverse an indoor Nazi laboratory of some sort that will be the hub for you to create new weapons and gadgets. A Nazi Panzerhund is soon brought to your attention and you must take out a chip, gather some data, then insert the chip back in while rotating the giant weaponized mechanical dog with a joystick found on the right.
It seemed to be taking far too long to do this mind-numbing task and I felt that MachineGames was trying to show off how cool it was to be up close and personal with this object and being able to manipulate its positioning. The cool factor of just simply being in VR has worn off for quite some time now and developers must need to incorporate interesting and fun gameplay to engage the players rather than relying simply on the tech.
Once players finally are able to hop into a mission and take control of a Panzerhund, I began getting some Skyward Sword flashbacks. Not because someone jumped on your screen every two seconds to remind you that the batteries in the Wii remote were low, but instead because you just kind of waggle the remote to defeat enemies. When piloting your mech, you can shoot a big flamethrower to scorch enemies. While this sounds fun, it is absolutely boring. You can just hold down the fire button to shoot and waggle the remote around to aim and obliterate any enemies in your path. Of course, there are some other bigger and badder enemies that must be defeated with a combination of your flamethrower and charge ability. But even these enemies were incredibly easy and most of the time I could defeat them before they ever got a shot off.
There are some other weapons that players will take control of such as a small stealth drone used to sneak through enemy territories and a Zittadelle that backs more firepower such as a machine gun and rocket launchers. While these other weapons do offer some variety, the complexity of the gameplay is as deep as a puddle and players can breeze through missions with no trouble at all.
Besides the tedious intro and gameplay, another thing that bugged me about Wolfenstein Cyberpilot was the mission structure. Boy, if you love some linear gameplay, then this game is right up your alley. I am not one to write off a game just because it has some linear elements. Uncharted does a fantastic job of creating the illusion of deep and lavish environments while still being set on a straight path. Cyberpilot though just felt like it was in one big hallway.
Cyberpilot had so much potential. At least for me personally, the new Wolfenstein games have set up an incredible world with interesting characters and environments. This should have been insanely cool to experience in virtual reality. However, MachineGames seems to have dropped the ball and created something that doesn’t understand how to take advantage of the VR medium.
Wolfenstein Cyberpilot feels like a launch title for any VR unit. It tries to wow the player with the fact that they are in virtual reality with closeups and the ability to do remedial tasks with motion controls rather than creating some deep and engaging gameplay. If you are a massive Wolfenstein fan then you might be able to take some good things away from the experience, but I imagine most people will left pretty disappointed.