The Walking Dead and VR, The Walking Dead and VR, why does that sound familiar? Ah yes, we had impressive The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners not too long ago, didn't we? It was until only recently that I realised Saints and Sinners and Onslaught were actually separate games. They do look very similar. One thing is for sure, though, I do love brutally massacring zombies in VR, it’s bloody brilliant. Bring them on!
I am not a massive Walking Dead fan so I am sure some of the nuances of the story will pass over me but I do know a bit about the show and its characters. I will be approaching this review more from someone who has played a boatload of PSVR and someone who has played the other recent PSVR Walking Dead game. I will be sharing my thoughts on how much fun I had cracking the skulls of the undead with a hammer, what I thought worked and, unfortunately, what I thought did not.
The Walking Dead Onslaught is developed by Survios who have made a few PSVR games and have a pretty decent track record. They made Creed, which I loved, as well as Battlewake, Raw Data and Sprint Vector, so they are very experienced in the medium. I expected good things to be fair, someone who has had that much experience should be making a well-polished PSVR title that handles well. Let’s dive in then, shall we?
For me, The Walking Dead Onslaught feels a bit like two games smashed together. On one hand, you are taking part in campaign missions following Daryl on his quest, which he and Rick narrate. On the other hand, you are scavenging and surviving to upgrade Alexandria. I liked the second part a lot more and would not have minded dropping the Daryl flashbacks in exchange for more depth in the survival parts of the game.
Every time I unlocked a campaign mission, I did not do it because I was wrapped up in the story, I did it just to get back to the survival stuff which I was far more invested in. The Daryl parts are not bad in any way, they were just not as fun or as intertwined with the base building stuff as the survival missions were. As your base grew, you attract more people, get more places to scavenge and more options to upgrade. It's quite a more-ish gameplay loop. Well, at least initially.
In these scavenging quests, you are fighting a timer. Well, I say timer, it's a herd of zombies that slowly creep through the map, a bit like a storm in a well-known battle royale game. The maps are short and the oncoming zombie horde is a nice touch. It means you are always on your toes, can never take all the supplies you want and it means you have to be constantly moving. It gives each quest a very tense and brisk feeling that I really liked. For someone like me who normally has to rifle through every drawer and take everything, it's quite unnerving.
It’s always nice though, after being drenched in blood, after smashing zombie skulls with a hammer, to come home to your base that you helped build. You will gain new workers, you will have notes from new members of the crew and you can then choose how to divvy up your newly scavenged resources. Want to upgrade your city hall? Want to construct a new building or upgrade your weaponry to kill the undead more efficiently? When you're done you can then pick another zone to plunder and go again, unless Daryl wants to reminisce again. Yawn.
As much as I loved the scavenging, as much as I loved the base building the gameplay loop does start to wear thin after a while. Like I said earlier, I would have loved for the Daryl campaign flashbacks to be dropped and more depth to be added to the building and scavenging parts. It could have been more fleshed out, more immersive and a bit more varied. What we have is fun, you may just want to play it in short bursts to not get burned out too quickly.
Graphically, The Walking Dead Onslaught is good but just not remarkable in any way. Everything is clear and legible but I found the character and zombie models are a bit lacking. On the whole, the graphical work is serviceable and never detracts from the gameplay, which is all you can ask for really. If you do pause for breath though and actually take in the scenery, you may spot a few bad textures and definitely do not pay too much attention to Daryl's model. He looks weird, very weird.
You can tell that Survios have made VR games before. The tutorial at the start of the game takes you through a vast amount of movement, comfort and control customisation and things that only come from experience. The number of options you can change and toggle is vast and I was very impressed with that. After finding the control scheme for me I was able to run, hack, slash and pick up resources with ease and with very little frustration.
That is one thing The Walking Dead Onslaught has going for it, I never had to adjust my VR setup once, I never had tracking issues and I had very few issues controlling my way around these putrid, zombie-infested environments. It is a testament to the VR veterans at Survios that I was able to just get on with the game without any VR 'messiness' whatsoever. Brilliant.
Performance-wise, this title also scores highly. I had zero bugs, zero crashes and everything just worked. This paired with a great VR implementation produced a hassle-free, bug-free experience that I, on the whole, enjoyed. Right, I need to go and wash, I am covered in walker blood. I have killed more walkers tonight than I care to admit. So, so many of them.