Reload quickly, aim carefully, and in the name of all that’s decent keep your head down. This is the mantra that every Dead and Buried player should recite if they want to be successful in the latest multiplayer virtual reality shooter.
Dead and Buried is one of the first game to be developed almost completely by Oculus Studios — the in-house content creation arm of the Facebook-owned Rift manufacturer. It was created in a partnership with Gunfire Games, the team behind Chronos. Dead and Buried is a multiplayer shooter with a wild west theme. You play as one of four otherworldly desperadoes battling it out with other undead gunslingers for supremacy in these literal VR ghost towns. The action is fast and frenetic; the gunplay is well designed and satisfying; and the combat mechanics are immersive and technical enough to keep matches consistently engaging. In short: this game is fun.
There are five game modes to chose from in Dead and Buried: a shooting gallery that’s only really useful for target practice, your standard wild west shootout, the objective-based robbery, quick draw in the streets, and wave-based cooperative horde mode. All of these are enjoyable in their own right, but combined together under one title they make Dead and Buried one of the most versatile multiplayer VR titles available.
Horde, Shootout, and Robbery are the real standouts here. Quick draw is fun as well, but it is dramatically more limited as just a “3…2…1…FIRE” reflex test with quickly fading novelty. The former three modes, however, are consistently fun and highlight the strategic, and highly physical, gameplay that Oculus Studios has been working so hard to perfect.
Horde mode is exactly what it sounds like: a wave-based challenge where you and up to three friends try and last as long as possible and defeat the big, supernatural bad of each map. Shootout is a team-based firefight pulled straight out of any famous western’s saloon, or town square fight scene. Robbery might be the most innovative of the lot.
In this mode two teams of two play as either lawmen or outlaws. The job of the robbers is to push forward by winning consecutive death matches on a linear map and make their way to, and open, the final safe. The lawmen, conversely, want to push the outlaws back until they lock them up in the brig. Each separate match has a pool of shared lives for each team. When your team’s lives run out you lose and are forced either forward or back depending which team you’re on.
Shootout and Robbery are the two best use cases for the unique mechanics that make Dead and Buried fun and are where most players will likely spend the majority of their time. Cover and precision are the bread and butter of Dead and Buried combat. There’s no intentional locomotion system in any of the game modes listed above. Instead, you spawn into one of several cover points on a given map and remain their until you die.
This, unfortunately, means that some games have a fair amount of luck involved in order to win. If you’re going 1v1 against a rival it often comes down to who spawns in a more optimal location. These problems are less noticeable in bigger team fights, where no spot is truly safe, but the absence of some sort of teleport mechanic hurts the game overall.
Being rooted to one spot doesn’t mean that you’re without movement options completely, however. Each spawn point has its own cover for you to hide behind in most cases and so a good portion of matches in Dead and Buried center around knowing when to peak out and fire and being able to dive behind cover quickly.
This makes Dead and Buried one of the most physical VR games we’ve ever played and you’ll rarely end a match without sweating. This isn’t an issue, as the physicality of the game is what makes it so satisfying. You honestly feel like a skilled marksman when you’re able to bait your opponent into showing his face just to blast it into the after, after-life with a well timed shot. Being required to physically hide from opposing fire also makes defense feel more immersive in this game than in any traditional 2D shooter. Your survival is directly related to how smart and fast you can be while playing and that never really gets old.
There’s a loose progression system in Dead and Buried. The game offers you four different avatars to play as, unlock, and customize with new aesthetics as you gain more experience. This provides some limited incentive to play more but it’s not quite enough to answer this title’s most significant question: is there enough here to keep the servers humming and the matches well populated?
From a pre-launch perspective the answer seems to be yes. There are enough enjoyable game modes and physical, enjoyable gameplay mechanics to keep things interesting, but time will tell whether or not the limited number of Rift users with Touch will choose to spend their time sweating it out in a Dead and Buried gun battle when there are other, less intense experiences to chose from. But, If they can take the heat, this one will be well worth the effort.
Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.