PSVR2 Deserves Better Than Firewall Ultra & Crossfire Sierra Squad

PSVR2 Deserves Better Than Firewall Ultra & Crossfire: Sierra Squad

Firewall Ultra and Crossfire: Sierra Squad both staked their claim in late August. While different in a few ways, the proximity of two military-focused first-person VR shooters meant they were going to naturally have to compete with one another. But with the general unfinished nature of Firewall Ultra and Crossfire’s unrelenting jankiness, there’s no clear winner. Instead, the losers here are PSVR2 owners since they deserve much better than this.

Their failures don’t have much overlap, either. Crossfire has a brief three-hour campaign that makes a terrible first impression. The immediate comfortability options are ludicrously aggressive — it doesn’t let players turn with the analog stick and the movement vignette takes up about 80% of the screen — and the gunplay immediately feels off. Its pause menu bewilderingly doesn’t actually pause the game or have any options submenu, but the comfortability settings in the main menu let players find at least some nuance not offered by the binary options presented at the very beginning.

PSVR2 Deserves Better Than Firewall Ultra & Crossfire Sierra Squad

The controls, however, are fundamentally flawed in a way that no setting can change. Its lack of sprinting doesn’t give players many ways to quickly avoid danger. Reloading is at an awkward halfway point between manual and automatic, meaning players just have to hit a button and slide the fresh magazine in. It doesn’t even require that the old magazine be ejected first. And despite the numerous opportunities where it encourages players to do so, this also makes dual-wielding not worth the effort because of the laborious process of having to set each gun down to reload them.

The inventory is also a mess. Even with an impressively large arsenal players can slowly upgrade, mission loadouts are predetermined and enemy weapons dissolve alongside their owner. Both oversights artificially limit player choice. The magnetic pull is also unwieldy and makes anything from grabbing a gun on the ground to selecting the healing syringe on your wrist an annoying chore. Being so restrained and having to constantly fight the controls while under fire shatters the immersion a VR shooter is supposed to have.

With such braindead, spongey enemies, it’s clearly supposed to be a more arcadey experience, too, but it can’t even commit to the level of cheese it begs for. The overly serious story is full of gruff, faceless clichés that rarely shut up. The protagonist is a microcosm of its misguided tone, as he is a bad Jason Statham parody who is unceremoniously named Terry.

PSVR2 Deserves Better Than Firewall Ultra & Crossfire Sierra Squad

Crossfire’s empty co-op lobbies leave players waiting endlessly, which is also an issue Firewall Ultra has. While First Contact Entertainment has cut down on some of the downtime since launch, it’s not uncommon to sit in lobbies and blast away endlessly in the shooting range waiting for a match to start. Lobbies just seem to have trouble filling up and staying full; an unfortunate reality for a niche multiplayer shooter exclusive to one VR headset.

However, bizarre controls are not something VR shooters are destined to have. Firewall Ultra depends on button presses in a way that makes it feel like someone modded VR support into a PS3 game. Reloading, opening doors, interacting with objects, and switching weapons are all tied to button presses for some reason. Even throwing grenades is automatic since there are no arm movements required; it just awkwardly flies where the player is looking.

These straightforward interactions lose what makes VR shooters special and minimize its overall potential. First Contact is working on manual reloads, but the lack of VR-specific interactivity seems too fundamental to Firewall Ultra to be completely patched out.

PSVR2 Deserves Better Than Firewall Ultra & Crossfire Sierra Squad

Despite these unforced errors, Firewall Ultra, unlike Crossfire, has a decent base to work with. But its chances to capitalize on its tactical, more intimate gunplay have been diminished right out of the gate because of its many weird quirks that could have been ironed out with a beta. This is evident in how hastily First Contact has issued updates during the game’s first week in response to player feedback, something it could have gotten out of the way much earlier.

All of the obvious issues with the sluggish player progression and long wait times have unnecessarily clouded its launch. The studio has said this is the “beginning of an exciting journey,” but it put itself behind the starting line by not implementing player feedback earlier.

With Firewall Ultra shooting itself in the foot and Crossfire: Sierra Squad shooting itself in the head, PSVR2 has gotten two shoddy shooters in quick succession. It’s not apocalyptically damning for a pair of misfires to come out so quickly, yet it is disappointing for a headset that tends to get more late ports over original experiences. Synapse showed how new titles can flourish on PSVR2, and hopefully that won’t be an outlier going forward.

Disclaimer: This Firewall Ultra and Crossfire: Sierra Squad feature is based on PS5 copies provided by the publishers. Played on versions 1.000.005 and 1.002.000, respectively.