It never stops being satisfying to watch the iron sheets of armor retract around my cockpit as each level begins.
Every time those metal curtains retract and fold in around me I am treated to a brand new world with brand new colors, buildings, and objects to enjoy. I’m also treated to a brand new army of bloodthirsty machines eager for my destruction. Lucky for me, I brought a tank.
The game I’m playing is Battlezone and the cockpit I’m sitting in — thanks to the tireless work of Rebellion Studios — is being brought to life beautifully by the upcoming PlayStation Virtual Reality headset.
Battlezone is, at it’s core, all about the tanks. Your world literally revolves around them during the game’s extensive campaign. At the beginning of each play through, you will start by selecting a light, medium, or heavy variety of metal behemoth. These categories relate to overall speed and durability.
Once you have your type specified you’re ready to begin your march across the map. The world of Battlezone is visualized between missions as a glowing green game board floating in the closed cockpit of your tank. This board is made up of a myriad of interlocked hexagons and each of those hexagons represents an individual mission. Your goal is to work your way across these hexagons one at a time in order to make your way towards, and destroy, the enemy stronghold: the volcano.
Each hex on the map can be one of several mission-types including all out brawls with enemy tanks, specialized hacking missions, or storefronts in which to purchase upgrades for your tank using “data” — the in-game currency you collect as you play. Each of these separate missions typically takes about five to ten minutes to complete.
There are tons of different weapons, abilities, and armor options to chose from as you progress in Battlezone and the game-within-the-game is all about unlocking and experimenting with different load outs. You can customize your tank to be more skilled at offense, defense, or even healing.
This is a useful feature as the other major hook of the game is its drop-in/dropout, online, co-op multiplayer. Up to three of your friends can join you on any mission in your campaign and they can stick around for as many battles as they choose.
Co-op is not required to beat Battlezone but it does make the game infinitely more dynamic. Friendly tanks can hover near each other to heal one another and they can also coordinate their weapon load outs to better balance heavy damage with more specialized attacks or buffs. This gives the game a rudimentary class system of sorts.
You might build a small, quick-moving tank designed to be a “healer” and zip around the map staying close to allies to regain their health. Or you could build a “tank” tank that is meant for soaking up damage and laying waste to enemies.
Battlezone is the first VR title from Rebellion Studios. Previously, the company was known primarily for its Sniper Elite series. It may be a freshman offering but it is a beautiful one. The cockpit especially is rendered brilliantly with plenty of little touches to make it work specifically in VR including menus, status readouts, and a massive, panoramic windshield.
During my two man, thirty minute demo, Battlezone‘s focus on multiplayer elements made it a bit hard to get a crystal clear picture of just how much fun this title will be. I don’t think I ever truly got into the main thrust of the game with only one partner by my side. But even so, the sprawling levels, gorgeously stylized visuals, and engaging customization systems made my time with Battlezone a blast.
Battlezone will be releasing alongside the PlayStation VR as a launch title on October 13.