I am an unashamed fan of killing Nazis. When I turn to video games to continue my love of killing Nazis there's always one franchise I can find comfort in. Wolfenstein has provided me with many memories of ruining a Nazi's day with a hatchet, and I'm always ready for more. In comes Wolfenstein Cyberpilot, the first VR entry into the series and one that sees me controlling mechs to gun waves of enemies down. I got my hands on the game at E3 and came away... pretty disappointed. Still, I was hoping the full game could revitalize my interest in killing Nazis, which no rational person should ever lose interest in. So does it manage to do so, or is this just a waste of VR potential?
The story is rather simple. You play as a hacker only known as Cyberpilot. Strapped to a chair, you find yourself trapped inside a Nazi robot HQ. You get help from Maria, a French resistance fighter that serves as the voice in your ear, and her tech-savvy secretary Jemma, who can only communicate with text on a monitor. Maria has some surprisingly good voice acting, which is for the best since her monologue has to carry the game. However, outside of this, there's only some very simple filler story that ties the game's few levels together.
I do mean few, as there are only four levels in Cyberpilot total. In the first three levels, you pilot different mechs, acclimating to their peculiar quirks. The final level has you swapping between all three mechs as needed. You'd think that would make for a strong central mechanic that could carry a several-hour game, and you'd be correct on that count. Cyberpilot has no interest in that. You get one level with a game-carrying mechanic. Then it's over after a mere three hour run time.
Are these three hours at least fun? Well, there lies the problem. Cyberpilot is simply not a fun video game. This honestly is a little absurd, as you're piloting robots and using them to kill Nazis, blow up generators, hack into computers, and behead a statue of Hitler. That, by all accounts, should be fun. Yet before Cyberpilot was over, I just wanted out of the robot and back in the shoes of either B.J. Blazkowicz or one of his daughters.
But How Do You Make Killing Nazis Boring?
Most of the time this is because combat is straight-up boring. For the first and third missions, you play as either a robotic dog with a flamethrower in its mouth or a big stompy mech with a machine gun and rocket launcher respectively. Yet nearly every enemy either dies in one hit or is a bullet sponge that can absorb way more damage than it should. There's nothing fun about having to dump two full clips of rockets into an enemy or strafe around them while cooking them with a flamethrower for over a minute.
It doesn't help that the enemy AI is so dumb that you can literally run circles around them and they just don't know how to respond. It also doesn't help that the enemies can be described entirely as either "Nazi", "Bigger Nazi", or "Even Bigger Nazi". None of them try any new tactics or require any sort of planning, just more standing in one spot and pumping bullets into them until they fall over.
The second mission instead has you piloting a small drone, serving as a single stealth level. If anyone spots the drone then they can always kill it in a single shot. Thankfully, it's pretty hard to trip any alarms, even if you actively try. The drone can fly circles around enemies like it's nothing, there's always an abundance of cover provided, and once again the AI is not up to the task of actually trying to find you.
Also, you have a button that literally turns the drone invisible, making the whole thing trivial. On the off chance you do get caught, most the environments are so small you can safely bum rush and instantly kill the Nazi with the drone's disintegration gun before they get a shot off. Occasionally you have to hack a computer, which is a pretty typical "rotate the controller to find the sweet spot" minigame that isn't really unique to Cyberpilot.
Wolfenstein Cyberpilot Review | Final Thoughts
Between missions, you go back to the Nazi HQ that you call home. Here you have to solve some light "puzzles" and use an elevator to move between rooms. I put puzzles in quotes because most of the time you're straight up told the solution. You just have to spend precious minutes enacting it and watching animations play out. It's clear before long that these aren't really puzzles and more busywork to pad out the game's length.
At least watching the animations are fun, and there are some great graphical details present here. If nothing else, Cyberpilot is a visual treat. Also, there's a weird late-game VR FPS wave shooter segment. Playing it is sad in that it's a preview for a VR Wolfenstein game that shows all the signs of being fun but ends too quickly. It's also hilarious because the AI is clearly not made for this type of experience. They struggle to navigate around the tiny environment that Cyberpilot takes place in.
It's fitting that the final segment is a tease for the Wolfenstein VR experience that should exist but doesn't. Simply taking Wolfenstein and using its already cohesive parts but putting them in VR would have been wonderful. Instead, we get Wolfenstein Cyberpilot, a half-baked idea that doesn't manage to squeeze out even an ounce of fun. I don't know how being a big ol' stompy mech to squish Nazis in VR became boring. I can only hope that Wolfenstein's next venture into VR turns out better.
TechRaptor reviewed Wolfenstein Cyberpilot on PlayStation VR using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on HTC Vive.
- Last Level Displays a Few Good Ideas
- Graphically Pretty
- Barely Any Story
- Very Short
- Terrible AI
- Bullet Sponge Enemies
- Too Much Busywork