The Brain Is Nazi-Killing Software

HIGH Playing with Nazi dolls in the office level.

LOW Spending ten minutes stuck on a puzzle because a tool failed to load.

WTF The Arkane-developed game taking a moment to mention the threat of energy walls.

It’s games like Cyberpilot and Battlezone that convince people VR is best suited for cockpit sims. Not because VR platformers, shooters, walking sims and adventure games aren’t fantastic, but because the feeling of ‘being there’ is so completely perfect seen from a cockpit in a way that no other VR genre totally captures. Sitting in a comfortable chair, Move controllers standing in for hands, free looking around my environment with no reason to get up and explore it — this is as smooth and immersive as VR gets.

Set alongside the events of Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Cyberpilot puts players into the seat of the titular character, a Nazi specialist woken up and pressed into service by the French Resistance in the alternate history 1980s of the franchise.

Shackled to a chair, the player alternates between piloting three different mechs through four story missions and completing tasks to keep the machines running. It’s a brief experience, but one packed with just enough mystery to ensure that players are captivated by the plot and want to make it to the end.

Each of the mechs uses the same basic control scheme — the player sits in a cockpit and uses controller buttons to move them forwards and backwards, as well as slide and turn. It’s a fully featured FPS control scheme managed with just six buttons and super-convenient aiming, which is handled by simply pointing at the thing that needs to explode and pulling a trigger.

The developers have made each of the mechs feel unique despite their shared controls. The secret is that each droid is a completely different size, allowing the player to experience Cyberpilot‘s world in a variety of ways.

Starting out as the Panzerhund, they’ll stalk through the alleys of Paris, setting Nazis on fire and smashing through them with crushing charges. Then they move into the diminutive drone which spends most of its level hovering through cramped vents and sneaking up on ‘huge’ Nazi soldiers. Finally they’ll get to rampage through the city as the mountainous Zitadelle, a walking fortress complete with energy shield and rocket launcher.

None of the levels are particularly long, and only the drone section requires any real strategy. All of the mechs can be quickly repaired during a quiet moment, so players of any skill level should be able to make it through the campaign so long as they don’t recklessly charge into danger too often.

The whole experience can be completed in little over an hour, which at times makes Cyberpilot feel like a demo for a more ambitious project. With just a single short level designed to get the player acquainted with each robot and then a final level which tests their familiarity with all three, the project wraps up just as it’s getting started.

There’s enough story to keep things moving, with a partisan on the radio guiding players through their various tasks, and a hacker that communicates with them via the screen attached to their chair. It’s essentially a real-time experience, with the player laying siege to an advanced Nazi research facility using each mech in sequence.

The dialogue is as sharp as ever, and the environment is well-used to establish the setting. The stores with German text more prominent than French, the propaganda posters and the graffiti that defaces them, and – of course – the portraits and statues of fallen hero Hitler all combine to paint a nasty portrait of alternate France, which makes waging war against its occupiers all the more satisfying.

With great controls and fantastic design, Cyberpilot‘s only real flaw is that there isn’t more of it. The devs haven’t given players much reason to come back after the first playthrough — there’s no scoring system or challenge mode to encourage replay, and once the credits rolled I found myself content to walk away after just 90 minutes.

The production values are impeccable and it runs perfectly on the PS4 Pro/PSVR — if there was more meat to it, I’d call Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot one of the most enjoyable VR cockpit games around, but with such a paucity of content, it doesn’t justify even a budget pricetag.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Arkane Studios and Machine Games and published by Bethesda. It is currently available on PSVR and PC VR. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4 Pro. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence. It’s a Wolfenstein game, with all of the swearing and brutal violence that the brand suggests. It’s not the most extreme the franchise has to offer – most enemies fall down in clouds of blood without being blasted to pieces – but expect to see a few severed limbs here and there.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options. The game does offer a large suite of VR comfort options, allowing players to choose how turning works, and to add depth of field options to help prevent motion sickness.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played much of the game without sound, and had no issues. All dialogue is subtitled – one problem, though: those subtitles exist as an object in the world, so in a few rare situations, it’s possible to move so close to an object that the text is obscured. It’s something to be a little wary of.

Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram. It’s played with two Move controllers – the left one handles the left-side weapon, moving forward, and sliding left and right. The right one handles the right-side weapon, moving backwards, and turning, as well as flight altitude in the drone.

Daniel Weissenberger
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