Pixel Gear Hands-On Preview – Fire Away (PSVR)

As part of our on-going coverage of upcoming PlayStation VR releases, I was able to get my grubby little eyeballs (thanks to the headset, that’s quite literal) on the new 3D shooter, Pixel Gear. As the name might imply, you find yourself in a supernatural battle against the forces of…well…pixels. All you really need to know is that you have a gun and a mandate of malice.

Unlike many of the other PSVR games that I’ve had the chance to experience, Pixel Gear encourages players to stand in one stationary position. It may sound crippling, but once the action starts, the lack of lateral movement makes total sense. In fact, of the four PSVR games I tried last week, this was by far the most straightforward from a, “pick up and play,” perspective. What made it so approachable was the fact that it only needed a single Move controller to play. As you might imagine, the controller represented your avatar’s in-game firearm.

At its core, Pixel Gear is the most literal interpretation of what a shooting gallery should be in VR. Assailants attack in waves from positions in front of, to the sides of, and slightly out of your periphery. The grab bag of pixelated creatures aiming for your head include skeletons, ghosts, a weird Frankenstien-ish character and several different varieties of undead knights. At the end of a series of waves there is even a massive boss that joins the fray. The one common feature shared among all adversaries is that they would be right at home in the world of Minecraft.

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Armed with my handy-dandy pistol, I went to work culling the herd of beasts, one-by-one. Due to only being armed with a single shot weapon (at least for the vertical slice I played), it made for some chaotic madness in later waves. At first, enemies started out sauntering in my general direction. If they went for several moments unopposed, they then started chucking projectiles my way. Anything from a skeleton’s femur to supernatural fireballs ended up hurtling my way. Thankfully, these were able to be shot out of the air. The real mystery was how the skeletons kept walking towards me, even after they had thrown both of their femurs.

One of the first things that shocked me was how easy it was to pick up a Move controller and instantly start wrecking shop on your targets. Everything felt extremely natural, all the way down to the position of my pistol. What was even more shocking was how precise movements in my arm position were accurately reflected in the game. It even gave me enough precision to start popping head shots from ridiculous distances.

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It was bizarre to finally put my time at the shooting range with my father-in-law to good use. If he had seen me deftly dispatching these Minecraft monsters, I’m sure he would have at least been slightly amused. Personally, I can’t wait for him to try it out! This is a man that has the finger dexterity of a gorilla. So as you can imagine, I’ve never approached him about trying to play a video game. This will be coming to an end the moment I have Pixel Gear in my possession. It is so straightforward and instantly approachable that I bet he takes to it like a fish to water. Bonding has never sounded more fun.

I am now officially a believer of the PSVR hype and Pixel Gear has quite a bit to do with that. Its seamless integration between the tangible and digital worlds left me stunned. I never thought that this sort of an experience would feel so organic and believable. I’m excited to see what else the game has in store when it hits PSN this October.