It’s been over a year now since Firewall Zero Hour graced our PSVR headsets. My colleague Jeremy previously reviewed the game over on our sister site, Pure PlayStation. I didn’t buy into the experience until a month after Jeremy had done his review. I was a little gutted, then, as I thought I’d missed out on the chance to a great review.
Here we are now in 2019, Pure PSVR is void of content, and I’ve got a morning to myself. I’m gonna review Firewall Zero Hour.
Firewall Zero Hour is a PSVR exclusive. No PC version, unfortunately. You’ll need a PS4 and a PSVR headset, as well as a DualShock 4 or a PSVR Aim controller, with the latter being my preferred input option.
The best way to think of Firewall Zero Hour is this: It’s basically Rainbow Six Siege but in VR. And will poorer graphics. And with fewer players. And with fewer features. And with fewer maps. Less doesn’t mean worse, though. The core gameplay revolves around two teams of four players, with one team defending a laptop, the other team attacking in an attempt to hack the laptop. That’s it. There’s no deathmatch, no capture the flag, just one mode. But that’s all it needs, really, and by having just one mode to play it helps keep the player base together and games moving along fairly quickly.
You take control of one of the many operatives, each coming with their own perks and skills. It’s up to you to decide what’s more important. Do you want extra movement speed or resistance to explosives? Do you want to be able to take a little more damage or do you want to move silently like a ninja? It’s your choice and it’s something you’ll find out for yourself, depending on your playstyle.
It’s a tactical game at heart, or at least it was on release. There was a time when matches were truly tense affairs. Attackers would inch forward, calling out plans and decided which way to attack. Defenders would set up shop in tactical positions to keep a clear line of sight on the paths towards the laptop. These days… That’s not so much the case. As players have memorised the maps, spawn points and most common routes, Firewall can feel more like Call of Duty than Rainbow Six. It all depends on who you’re playing with and against, really.
Firewall Zero Hour is a game that lives and dies by its players. If you’re stuck playing with asshats, it’s not really fun. If you’re pitted against Day One Daddies (players who’ve been playing since release), you’ll find yourself either having a good challenge or getting completely stomped. It’s becoming rare to find a really nice, balanced match these days, especially if you’re a solo player. It’s still possible, mind you, but going in as a fresh rookie these days isn’t as welcome as it once was.
As mentioned earlier, you can play either with the DualShock 4 or the PSVR Aim controller. The DualShock 4 option isn’t terrible, but the PSVR Aim controller is definitely the way to go. With a regular gamepad, it’s a little uncomfortable as you have to bring the controller up and use it to aim while pulling the triggers to fire and throw grenades, and using the sticks for movement. It’s not very ergonomic, but I suppose I appreciate that the option is there so that you don’t have to fork out for a new PSVR Aim controller to play. However, I highly recommend getting one. The ergonomics are improved ten-fold and it just feels much more natural to bring the gun-shaped peripheral up to take aim. The Aim controller isn’t perfect, either, but that’s more to do with the tracking technology used on PSVR than the game’s design, so there’s not really much that can be done on that front.
The developer, First Contact Entertainment, has been releasing patches and updates regularly since release. We’ve had new contractors, weapons and even maps released for free. We’ve also seen a slew of improvements to the once-broken matchmaking system. Honestly, I cannot begin to tell you how infuriating it has been for me and Jeremy. We’d sit down and be ready to play, only to spend an hour or more getting booted back to the lobby screen. It was hell. These days, while far from perfect, it is much better and in a recent play session, Jeremy and I were able to play for a long time without issue.
Firewall is best enjoyed with a mate or two, or three if you’re that popular. With friends, you’re able to communicate a little more clearly and there are few misunderstandings. As I noticed between myself and Jez, we developed a kind of unspoken shorthand. If it was us two and two randoms on our team, we’d see where the randos were going and then we would split and follow one of them. Other times, we followed each other without having to say. That’s not to say that playing with randoms isn’t a viable option, because it totally is. In fact, some of the best games I’ve had were with random folk I’d never spoken to before. You get a minute to chit-chat before each round starts, and I usually like to break the awkward silence by telling a silly joke or something. It’s a nice icebreaker and it gives me a place to show off my comedic skills. Ask anybody who has played Firewall with me and they’ll tell you that I basically use the game as my own comedy show. It’s fun! When you’ve lost your tenth game in a row and morale is low, you can always count on me to make an inappropriate comment.
Teamwork and communication is key. If you’re not talking to your teammates, you’re not winning. It’s as simple as that. If one team is talking and the other isn’t, then nine times out of ten, the talking team will win. Calling out enemy locations is vital, and not just during regular play. Once you die you’re still able to aid your team by looking at the security cameras that are dotted around each map. You can use this function to inform your living teammates of enemy movements. You can guide the last man standing to safety. You can essentially win a lost match just by the power of love, er, I mean your voice. It’s annoying, then, when people don’t use their BUILT-IN microphones. The PSVR has a built-in, ready-to-use microphone system, yet so many players decide to either mute their mic, or worse, just breath heavily without saying a word. Don’t be that guy, please. Get chatting. Most players are friendly enough and won’t give you a hard time for being new to the game. Most will offer advice on what gun and gear upgrades to get, what to equip for certain maps and other general tips and tricks.
Progression is handled with in-game currency that is earned by playing and levelling up. These days there is a battle pass of sorts, though I’ll be honest, I’ve not really looked into it as it doesn’t interest me in the slightest; I’m happy enough jumping in for a few hours over the weekend, telling my jokes and winning the occasional game. I don’t need the extra stress of having to complete certain tasks within a deadline.
Firewall Zero Hour is a game that has evolved over time. It’s far from perfect and it still has the occasional matchmaking wobbles, but once you’re in and playing with a good group, there’s nothing else like it on PSVR. Flawed, but brilliant. Just like some of my jokes.
Firewall Zero Hour PSVR Review
Overall - Must Buy - 9/10
Firewall Zero Hour is the best online shooter available on PSVR, though it kind of wins on that front by default. There aren’t any other options at the moment but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that Firewall is a genuinely brilliant shooter.
- PSVR Aim controller is the perfect fit for Firewall
- Regular free updates with new content (maps, weapons, contractors)
- Responsive controls that work well, despite the PSVR’s tech
- Truly thrilling gameplay
- Matchmaking can be a pain at times, though it has improved significantly since launch
- Still no host migration, meaning that if the host quits it’s game over for everyone
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.
Release date: August 28th, 2018