The fact that Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond runs on Quest 2 at all is a miracle, but it doesn’t change the core issues at the heart of an otherwise decent shooter. Read on for our Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond Oculus Quest review!
When we first reviewed Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond on PC VR headsets in 2020, we said this:
“If you’re eager to dive into a VR version of WWII with exciting set piece moments, authentic historical footage, and an addictively fun online multiplayer mode, then you should come away satisfied. But if you were looking for an immersive narrative wrapped up in a cutting-edge evolution of VR game design with expert pacing — don’t hold your breath.”
There was a lot of hype behind what would be one of Oculus Studios’ final blockbuster PC VR releases, especially in the wake of other hits like Half-Life: Alyx and The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. And Above and Beyond certainly delivered on some fronts. The game had good — if not especially advanced — weapon handling, cinematic moments you wouldn’t find in many other VR games and a wealth of content between its campaign and multiplayer offerings. But it was also held back by sluggish pacing that constantly interrupted the player and simplistic level design that often focused on bite-sized missions that were over before you knew it. Moving to Quest doesn’t do much to absolve the game’s campaign of those issues.
I was still struck but just how slow the game’s opening in particular is, in which you’re thrown into endless cutscene after cutscene, with just a few minutes of gameplay interspersing another lengthy group dialogue section. Some of these moments do offer interesting snippets of VR storytelling, but they’re also strangely placed and, even though the game promises 10+ hours of action, it’s significantly padded with these moments.
All of this makes for a campaign that’s difficult to really settle into. You’re either itching to get a cutscene out of the way and get back into the fight, or left wishing that last level had stretched out just a bit longer – the constant stopping and starting really disrupts the flow. You can now skip cutscenes but you’re going to remove a lot of the game’s context and you’ll still spend time hopping between loading screens. It’s more of a foundational issue than something that can simply be solved just by ignoring the story.
Having said all of that, it’s also true that you won’t find many other shooter campaigns on Quest with this much scope and variety. Medal of Honor’s campaign takes you around the world with missions that try to offer something new, be it vehicle segments, sniping missions or otherwise, and you definitely get a much more rounded feeling of it being a ‘full’ game comparable to something on consoles. In that respect it’s very much a bar raiser, but here’s hoping to next game to match its production can also raise the stakes when it comes to gameplay, too.
Still, you might remember our review last year was significantly more positive about the game’s multiplayer segment and, again, that’s all intact here. Above and Beyond offers clean, accessible multiplayer modes that are incredibly easy to hop right into, with five game types across levels retooled from the campaign. Here the game’s flow picks up considerably, with arena-style, fast-fire matches. You’ll find health and grenade pick ups around the map and can pick from pretty much any weapon up-front. Modes are mostly standard except for Mad Bomber, which utilizes VR by having players hide bombs where they can and try to blow others up with them as they search for the opponents’ explosives too.
It’s a brilliantly frantic mode that really shows Respawn thinking outside the box in a way other areas of the game are lacking. And, more generally speaking, the lack of fuss around the multiplayer — easy quick match options etc — makes it a great draw for first-time competitive VR play.
The trouble is this offering is very light, with no reward systems to keep players coming back. Granted there’s a heavy demand for campaign-driven, single-player content in VR, but it certainly feels like Above and Beyond would have been a better sell as a multiplayer-first shooter. With a progression system and promise of post-launch support to come, this could have been the perfect AAA competitive shooter for those that don’t want the tactical difficulties of Onward but also don’t fancy the Fortnite-inspired action of Population: One. But given it’s likely we won’t see any new post-launch content for the game whereas VR’s other shooters are all refreshed pretty much around the clock, the multiplayer doesn’t fully make up for the campaign’s misfires.
You can find more details in our graphics comparison, but Oculus Studios has pulled off an incredible job not only getting the game onto Quest 2 but, in some levels at least, largely keeping a lot of the detail intact. Yes, character models look a little strange with degraded assets and the usual suite of effects — smoke plumes, fragments of broken glass, swaying trees and dynamic lighting — have all been removed, but the cost isn’t quite as heavy as you might expect. You have to take it on a level-by-level basis, of course, as some of the outside areas are drastically scaled back in terms of foliage etc, but it’s a really impressive effort all the same.
To add to that, it’s nothing short of incredible that some of the game’s more intense sequences remain intact here. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see moments like the explosive ski chase scene in Norway or flight sections missing, but it’s to the team’s credit that this really is the full game beaten down onto Quest.
Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond Oculus Quest Review: Final Impressions
On a technical front, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is one of Quest’s most impressive games, bringing a cinematic, blockbuster campaign to standalone VR with differences that often aren’t as drastic as you’d expect. And some post-launch patches have also introduced welcome options like the ability to skip the many, many cutscenes in the campaign. But, even then, the pacing with the short levels remains a big issue in a shooter that otherwise feels a step behind the competition, including even recent ports like Resident Evil 4 VR. That said the game still succeeds in the multiplayer arena and you won’t find many games as polished as this on the platform. Medal of Honor sets a bar for performance on Quest 2, but there are a lot of other games that simply play better.
For more on how we arrived at this rating, read our review guidelines. What did you make of our Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond Oculus Quest Review? Let us know in the comments below!