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Starting with an in depth tutorial, Contagion VR: Outbreak slowly introduces you into its nightmarish world full of the undead. It allows you the opportunity to get used to the controls before you play, though as always, the best way to get used to most games is to dive head first in and figure out whatever you need to during the task at hand and this one is no different. The tutorial section is quiet and calm and gives you time to react to things and pick up things in a safe space, the same cannot be said for when you actually get into the game and accidentally press the wrong button causing you to drop your weapon and have to circle back to pick it up to avoid getting chomped on. The undead, as they often are, are relentless in this game and the best way to make sure they stay down is with a head shot, this lead to lots of moments where I’d be standing over them and felt as though I was executing them.
There’s plenty of ammo to go around which is great because I found the shooting mechanics to feel a little off, it’s hard to say how it felt off all I know is that usually after any period of adjustment you usually learn to be fairly competent with the weapons in VR, with this game though, no matter how much I played it and practiced my shots, I still found it incredibly difficult to pull off head shots and sometimes to even hit the zombies at all. This is in complete contrast to any other VR shooter I’ve played where I’ve eventually learned to adjust to the way it works and I can play fairly well, it could be that I just wasn’t very good at the game but given my track record, I should have seen at least some improvement. If the guns aren’t to your taste, there’s a lot of melee weapons you can pick up and use though using them too much will make them break. The items range from fire axes to frying pans but as is common with VR games, you’re not actually hitting anything so you just end up wildly flailing your hand around until the zombie lays dead at your virtual feet.
When you start up Contagion VR: Outbreak, you find yourself standing in a room full of monitors and it’s on these monitors that you find the missions as well as the shooting gallery. The shooting gallery is a great way to practice with most of the weapons in the game and there are a couple of different modes you can play to test yourself, although I don’t recall seeing every weapon that’s in the gun range in the game itself and there are even a couple in the game that aren’t in the range. For each mission on the screens you play as someone different and get to see their side of the outbreak as it begins and because of this it means that each one is set in a different location.
The first mission has you returning home from a trip away and as you get back to your apartment you see the signs that things aren’t quite right as the events of the outbreak steadily unfold, forcing you to fight your way back outside and trying to rescue your family from the ravenous hordes. This mission is the most straightforward and has you pretty much just going from A to B whist fighting zombies along the way. Mission two gets a bit more interesting when you and your brother are stranded in the Arizona desert after car trouble and forced to stay in the nearby motel, when it starts your character goes to the gas station for help and ends up locked in a room and you have to solve room escape style puzzles and gather numbers which are a code to a locked door to be able to escape. The next day you have to gather supplies with your brother to fix up a bus and defend it while he does so, then go and rescue people to take along with you. The third mission is by far the trickiest, taking away all of the gun play in favour of placing you in a Resident Evil style mansion and having you solve various puzzles to collect the emblems that unlock the front door while infected stalk you throughout. As well as these three story missions, there’s also a free roam mode where you’re able to wander about and just blast away at zombies and gather items from supply drops, seeing how long you can last for or whether you’re able to make it to the extraction point.
There’s some great variety in Contagion VR: Outbreak and I like how it shifts from a focus on gunning down zombies to having to think your way through puzzles. While the game itself is good it suffers from the common problems of VR and that is that it has finicky controls, there are times when you won’t be able to pick something up off the ground easily despite there being something that’s supposed to help you in that regard and when you’re being chase by zombies it gets even harder to grab things. Thankfully there is a setting that allows you to raise and lower your character’s height at any time or turn on a crouch function so it’s made a little easier but it can still be quite difficult to grab things, especially when in a rush. Another common problem I encountered was that when you have a long weapon holstered on your chest it made it difficult to reload the one weapon you’re currently using and it can cause you to either accidentally pick up the weapon from your chest holster or grab the weapon in use by the end, which would occasionally cause me to drop either one or both of them as I tried to sort things out mid combat with the undead.
Contagion VR: Outbreak is a great game but it’s one that’s unfortunately marred by the technical problems of the PSVR and even when you manage to adjust to these issues and have a relatively smooth experience the game is let down in part by how easy it is considering the zombies pose almost no threat whatsoever, even in the mansion setting where you can’t kill them. Having said that though, I did enjoy my time with it but to be honest it did feel a little lacking in the story department. While getting to play as different characters and see things from different perspectives was fun, I personally I would like to see full game sized missions for each of them especially considering their stories end on cliffhangers even if it meant each of them having their own game.
If you’re looking for another great VR zombie experience for your PSVR, I would definitely recommend this one, you can find the links to buy it below or if you want to learn more about the game first, then you can visit this link.