With what appears to be a sudden wave of online arena-based PSVR shooters, we have been graced with yet another reason to shoot each other in a game developed by Anshar Studios. While Telefrag VR does take some liberties in separating itself from its retro-inspired brethren, it doesn’t have enough content or variety supporting its unique hook that will surely spell trouble for its longevity within this competitive space as players will no doubt move onto the next thing.
Telefrag VR is a 1v1 VR arena shooter that offers some nice little ideas wrapped up in a no-frills package. Supporting both DualShock 4 and the Move controllers (and the recently released 3dRudder walking controller), players can dual wield a variety of interesting weapons while teleporting, dashing and zipping around its chaotic maps. When the gears start turning, there is some genuine fun to be had. The mechanics work well, the weapons are fun to use and the personal intensity fighting a single opponent does create some fun moments.
Telefrag VR packs in some interesting looking weaponry
Players compete against each other over three rounds across five maps. While that does undoubtedly feel light, the maps are varied (aesthetically) enough to keep things fresh (to an extent). While I appreciated the unique style of the maps, some of them felt really random and clumsy. There were times where I could not quite get my bearings right, which spells bad news for fast-paced shooters. Spread across these arenas are weapon pick-ups each with an alternative fire mode that allows for a unique method of teleportation, which plays into one of the hooks of the game.
One of the highlighted aspects of Telefrag is the ability to teleport into players, killing them in the process. It’s similar to the ‘glory kill’ mechanic in DOOM VFR and It’s a pretty cool feeling and I found myself smiling in the most sadistic way possible when I landed one. Players can also teleport around the map, including ceilings, which creates some epic shootouts, where opponents are shooting at each other from the floor and the ceiling.
There are about half a dozen weapons to choose from and each one has a distinct look and feel. Players can dual wield these weapons using the Move controllers (which feels as natural as you might expect) or the DualShock 4 using head-tracking or the controller’s light-bar for aiming. You also get to pick from a select number of classes, starting weapons and abilities, but the amount of options is very limited.
A neat little feature I appreciated was the fact that when I died, I could not pick the same loadout for the next round. This forces players to become familiar with all the weapon types, while keeping them on their toes. On the other-hand, some players like to pick favourite weapons and run with it. If you’re one of those people then Telefrag may rub you the wrong way.
Feel my body frag your body
Combining the shooting with the fast and agile mechanics of dashing, sprinting and teleporting feels surprisingly smooth and intuitive. The only caveat to this point is if you plan to use the Move controllers, its infamously clunky button layout and lack of sticks makes navigating fast and aggressively throughout the levels more of a chore than a natural part of the gameplay. Conversely, the DualShock 4 felt natural and easy to master the movement due to the familiarity with the controller itself. The 3dRudder may be able to alleviate this issue, but I have yet to get my ‘feet’ on one of these so wasn’t able to provide my impressions. Otherwise, Telefrag VR supports full locomotion, which should make many VR users happy.
When all these little features are flowing together, the game does feel exhilarating and snappy. It’s just a shame that there really is one mode, five maps and five guns to play around with before you’ve seen absolutely everything. It doesn’t help the fact that I found it difficult to find matches as well. There were definitely multiple instances where I was just sitting in a lobby waiting for players, only to be paired with bots. The bot matches are nowhere near as fun, especially considering the AI for the bots isn’t great to begin with.
Telefrag has a lot of fun ideas and they mix well with the solid shooting foundations to create some action-packed moments. However, there is just not enough content or variety to the gameplay to keep me engaged or hungry for more. I hate to use the word tech demo, but it really does feel like a proof-of-concept, with cool ideas that once again shows what a great VR shooter could be. Five maps, five weapons and one mode is all you’re getting with Telefrag VR, and for the price tag, it just isn’t enough. Combine these points with the fact that matches are already taking too long to pair players up makes its future very uncertain.
Reviewed PlayStation 4 Pro and PSVR // Review code supplied by publisher