Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever is the latest Zombieland game spinoff and a first in several ways for the series. Read on for our full Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever review down below.
Aside from being the first Zombieland game in VR, it also does away with Double Tap Road Trips’s shoot-’em-up mechanics in favor of an arcade light-gun approach. It’s an approach that works better than expected overall, though some lacking visuals and other wonky issues keep Zombieland VR from being as good as it could be.
As you’d expect from the Zombieland series, Zombieland VR places most of its emphasis on gameplay instead of story. The zombie apocalypse is finished, people have emerged from their bunkers, and they figured they may as well have some fun now the world is shattered beyond hope of reasonable repair.
Enter the Zombieland Invitational, a frenetic, bloody competition to see who can shoot the most zombies in a set time. It’s an on-rails light-gun game and a nice change of pace from VR’s heavier zombie experiences.
You’ll start by customizing your hands and going through a short, but helpful tutorial that acquaints you with Zombieland VR’s basic mechanics — sort of. Each mission introduces at least one new mechanic and gives you perhaps a single split second to learn and react, while some others, including interactable items, receive no explanation as to what they do at all.
It’s good when games push you to experiment with the environment. However, with Zombieland VR’s fast pace, taking just a second too long means you’re likely overrun with zombies and either failing the course or losing valuable points. I’d have appreciated a more detailed tutorial or a prep mission with more room for learning before each course with a rundown of what features to look for.
Zombieland settles into a familiar and compelling loop after the tutorial. Challenge a course, survive (hopefully), and exchange points for upgrades. You’re encouraged to clear them as fast as possible. Each course is fairly short, consisting of five or so main areas strung together by movement points and crammed with zombies. Naturally, the flow feels reminiscent of light-gun style arcade games—minus the quarters.
Normally, I’m not a fan of replaying courses for higher scores, but Zombieland VR was different. The short length makes replaying painless, and beyond that, it’s just fun.
Zombieland VR gives you a handgun to start with and unlimited ammo. Headshots trigger the game’s signature Adrenaline feature, where time slows down and you can, ideally, string together more headshots for better combos. It sounds easy, sure, but there’s usually a horde of zombies running at you. Adrenaline won’t last long, so it turns into a balancing act between increasing your combo count and eliminating the nearest danger.
You’re inevitably left with a sense that you could have done better, turning replays into a personal necessity instead of a chore.
Slick gunplay and a substantial weapon pool help ease the burden as well. You get a secondary weapon after your first mission, and there are plenty more to unlock as you clear each stage’s challenges. Dual wielding, targeting zombies on both sides simultaneously — it’s essentially an action-hero dream.
The only issue with Zombieland VR’s guns is how the secondary weapon activates. You’re supposed to lower your non-dominant hand and press the grip button, but the game is fiddly about recognizing when it’s in the right position. Oddly, the issue was less prominent sitting down, and the opposite is true for reloading the handgun. It was smoother standing up.
Your reward for surviving courses and clearing challenges is toilet paper. That’s better than it sounds, though. As your companions tell you, toilet paper is the most valuable item in the apocalypse, and you’ll exchange TP to modify weapons.
Apparently, the game’s zombies raided every grocery store imaginable before succumbing to zombification, since they drop TP at a satisfyingly heavy rate. Stringing together combos and nailing headshots rewards you with bonus TP, as does eliminating multiple zombies at once, so there’s always something new you can do after a course — assuming you don’t keep failing them.
There’s a dizzying array of upgrades and weapons to work with as well. You can do the usual things, such as increasing ammo capacity, but you can also unlock personal upgrades, including a line of sight for your weapons and modifications to the Adrenaline system. Light-gun games can get boring fast, but Zombieland VR’s course variety, rewards, and upgrades keep it engaging for longer than you might expect.
One discomforting thing I noticed is that it seemed like I was gunning down quite a few Black zombies. In my experience some of the zombie waves seemed to include more Black ones than others, at least enough that I noticed it. Two editors at UploadVR checked and didn’t notice it as an issue in the first few levels and another reviewer at another publication that we spoke to also did not notice it as an issue in his entire playthrough, but I felt it worth mentioning since it stood out to me.
Finally, it’s worth noting how Zombieland VR looks — which is not that great. The chunky, cartoonish aesthetic works for the environments, but it makes character models seem primitive. It’s an issue not helped by frequent mismatching of dialogue and lip movements. You aren’t looking at them much, admittedly, but it does give the game more of a low budget feel.
Zombieland VR Review — Final Verdict
Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever isn’t trying to reinvent VR or the zombie game, and that’s just fine. The action is fast and enjoyable, level design encourages replaying, and you’re never short of something to upgrade or the means to upgrade it. Some finicky reloading, less than stellar character models, and skimpy tutorials keep it from being an essential game, but if you can look beyond that, you’re in for a much more entertaining light-gun game than meets the eye.
For more on how we arrived at this score, read our review guidelines. This review was conducted using a digital code provided by the publisher on a Quest 2 headset.
Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever is out now on Oculus Quest for $20. Other platforms are coming soon.