As a big VR enthusiast, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the PlayStation VR headset has held up against its more capable PC rivals. As more and more games make the leap to VR, we’ve seen many that push the boundaries of the medium, and PSVR has followed along, with only minor tweaks needed to maintain a similar level of quality. But if the game is built around the idea of room scale, which PSVR doesn’t allow for, then there’s a bit of a problem. That’s the case with Out of Ammo, which is unfortunate since it’s a decent game at its core.
Out of Ammo’s central gameplay conceit is one of those things you feel like you thought of long ago, and yet few if any games have actually delivered on it. The core of the game is a tower defense where you place and control units as waves of enemies try to take down your HQ. What steps it up beyond this simple formula is that you can take control of any of these units, shifting from your top-down omniscient view into a first person shooter style game. And all of this is in VR, putting you right into the world and into the action.
This mixture of strategy and action is cool, though the latter isn’t really all that action packed. Instead the option to take over one of your troops is more so that you can actually get them to kill what’s in front of them. Your soldiers aren’t terrible or anything, they usually get the job done, but you will almost always be faster. Whether you take over for a rifleman, rocketeer, or sniper, your aim is usually better, as is your reaction time. Despite this, I usually found it more helpful to stick to the tower defense mode, and only take over when necessary.
Where Out of Ammo begins to stumble is in its PSVR implementation
This is mostly thanks to the three special powers you can use as you accrue points through the mission. Sniper shot will give you a few rounds of very precise control of your snipers, strafing run can call in a chopper to eliminate a line of enemies, and air strike will bombard an area with bombs. Using these at the right time is key to surviving as long as possible, and they’re always a lot of fun to pull off, if you time them just right.
Structures are dropped off in waves, allowing you to place them as you see fit. You can move them later, but it takes a long time, so this is best saved for when it’s absolutely necessary. One thing the tutorial could use more of is an explanation of what the buildings do. You get the basics of the combat focused ones, but more show up and new players will likely be confused as to what they are building and why.
And it is very important where these structures end up, as enemies can easily find a weak point if you don’t place them well. It’s also not immediately clear at the beginning of the level where the enemies will be coming from, so there’s usually an adjustment period where you figure it all out. Once you do, you can easily survive for over 30 minutes, which can get quite tiring as you manage your troops. I simply gave up on a number of occasions, as I was simply tired of defending for so long.
This mode has a few different levels, each with its own layout and uniqueness. The core gameplay doesn’t change too much though, until you shift to the specific missions that are more focused on controlling a single character. These are more of a wave style shooter, as seen from a ton of other VR titles, and while their a fine addition, they don’t really add much to the experience. They are a decent diversion, but don’t buy the game expecting much beyond the tower defense mode.
Where Out of Ammo begins to stumble is in its PSVR implementation. For one, you cannot play with a standard Dual Shock controller. This is fine, most VR games are better with motion controls anyway, but it was surprising to see. Furthermore, it’s very clear that this game was built for a more open VR platform, with the player put right in the middle of their camp and forced to rotate way too often to keep track of everything.
Controls are cumbersome, with posters on the wall of the lobby area breaking them down in one of the most confusing ways possible. And you’d better hope you looked at them before loading into a game, because the viewpoint will very often load incorrectly, putting you way too far away from what you need to interact with. This is even true in the tutorial, which does not break down the controls in any way. If you didn’t notice that holding the Start button on the side of the Move controllers (a button most players probably forgot even exists), then get ready to hear the same prompt over and over as you struggle to figure out why the game wants you to walk beyond your camera to reach a crate.
More than any other PSVR game before it, I found myself maneuvering myself out of my camera’s view. Even after rearranging my play area to maximize its view and my play space, there were many times where I had to check to make sure I was facing the right way. The game was made for room scale and it shows, and the PSVR simply struggles to keep up. This isn’t necessarily a flaw with the game, but it should have been a consideration when porting to the less capable headset.
The core of Out of Ammo is a decent strategy/shooter hybrid, offering a unique take on both genres. The low quality visuals will turn off a lot of players, but the style is actually pretty fun. What kills a lot of the fun is the lack of PSVR customization, taking a room scale game and putting it into a much more restrictive space. Once you get past this it will be a decent amount of fun, but the lack of variety does diminish the real value of the game.
Out of Ammo
- Available On: PC, PS4
- Published By: Zen Studios
- Developed By: RocketWerkz and Zen Studios
- Genre: FPS/Strategy
- US Release Date: January 30th, 2018
- Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
- Quote: "The core of Out of Ammo is a decent strategy/shooter hybrid, offering a unique take on both genres. What kills a lot of the fun is the lack of PSVR customization, taking a room scale game and putting it into a much more restrictive space. Once you get past this it will be a decent amount of fun, but the lack of variety does diminish the real value of the game."