Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is only the second made-for-VR game from Bethesda and this time it brings the iconic Nazi-killing franchise to the immersive realm. Here’s our full review.
I’ve killed a lot of virtual Nazis over the years. Between all of the Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Wolfenstein, and other game franchises that have pitted players against Germany’s darkest piece of history, I’d wager the body count is probably a hundred thousand or more by my hand alone from all of the years added up. But with that being said, to Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot’s credit, I can say that it certainly provided brand new ways to murder Nazis that I’d never experienced before. Which is why it’s such a shame that those ways were mostly underwhelming.
In a big change for the series, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot actually puts you in the shoes of a hacker this time around. The game takes place in Paris in 1980 as you aid the French resistance against the Nazi regime. Your mission is to take control of Nazi war machines and unleash them on unsuspecting forces to wreak havoc and try to disrupt their conquest.
On paper, Wolfenstein in VR sounds like an excellent concept for a game. The Wolfenstein franchise is respected and has received a modern revival with the latest series of games putting it back in the public conscience. Killing Nazis has never been as visceral and satisfying as it is in the most recent Wolfenstein games.
But every other Wolfenstein game has always put your boots on the ground and handed you a rifle to get your hands dirty the old-fashioned way. A modern interpretation of that concept in the immersive realm of VR could have been powerful and intense, but what we’ve got instead feels mostly safe and lacking teeth.
In Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot you don’t even actually fight Nazis directly at all; you just hack into robots that do the killing. It’s like being a remote drone pilot of hulking metallic beasts hungry for flesh. And perhaps this is more revealing of my mindset than it should be, but after playing Wolfenstein: The New Colossus and drowning my screen in blood, Cyberpilot just feels overly tame. Most enemies just catch fire before falling to the ground, evaporate after being electrocuted, or are too far away down on the ground to really see any gory details. Call me a sadist, but in a Wolfenstein game I want some up-close carnage and blood. If Bethesda will publish DOOM VFR, which has lots of that, it seems odd to neuter Cyberpilot when compared to its other Wolfenstein counterparts.
Cyberpilot is only about three hours long, give or take, and a good chunk of that occurs outside of the virtual cockpit back at a research facility base. You’re bound to a chair and all you can do is pull a lever to raise or lower an elevator to different floors and reach out to interact with objects around you. The developers broke up the action with some light puzzle solving and a bit of exposition, so it’s not just pure action all the time, and it’s a good balance. I found myself more endeared to the characters than I expected due to the entertaining writing and quality voice acting.
In some ways though, Cyberpilot almost seems like a game that existed in a concept phase previously and was shoved into the Wolfenstein universe to capitalize on the IP rather than actually being built from the ground up with the franchise in mind.
It’s a shame that the action-packed levels are basically just linear corridor shooters that pose little threat. Flying the small, more agile, drone around that could cloak itself and hack computers ended up being a highlight of the game instead since it offered something quite different from the rest.
Even the moments of action that do exist feel artificial in a way that’s hard to really describe. The best way to put it is that you can never shake the feeling that you’re not actually in the mech and are instead just hacking into the cockpit from afar. Perhaps that’s a testament to the game’s immersion, but it ends up seriously harming Cyberpilot’s fun factor. It all just sort of ends up feeling like a superficial shooting gallery.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot has all of the right ingredients to be an exciting VR game focused on murdering tons of Nazis, but ends up feeling like it’s just too safe with far too little content. Mechanically it works well and there are some quality moments of fun, but just as the world starts to get interesting it’s all over.
Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot releases on July 26th on SteamVR with official support for Vive, Windows VR, and Valve Index, as well as on PSVR, for $19.99 on both storefronts. This review was conducted on the PSVR version of the game using two PS Move controllers, but it does support DualShock 4 as well. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.