Almost a year after we first went hands on with it, Telefrag VR has been released by Anshar Studios for Playstation VR and PC-based VR platforms. Our initial experience with Telefrag VR was on PC, this review is based on the PSVR version.
On the surface, Telefrag VR is instantly familiar – having played it before for the preview we did last year. It’s still a sci-fi arena-based shooter where gravity plays a unique role – it’s kind of like having magnetic boots on that allow you to walk on the ceiling. This creates some great moments, where quickly getting your bearings and seeing if your adversary might be walking the ceiling above you could give you an edge. Because of the many changes in perspective and the ability to teleport yourself across the map, this can result in kills where the element of surprise is part of the thrill.
Obviously, an actual “telefrag” can also be part of said thrill – a move where you teleport yourself into the body of the other player, causing him to explode. Familiar to DOOM players, these are a lot of fun to pull off. The fact that you’re playing one on one matches strengthens this fact, since you’re not stringing kills together every few seconds.
There are two big differences I noticed when playing the review build, comparing it to what I saw a year ago. Back then the developers went with incremental movement as your control option – going forward in little steps across the map. They mentioned it was the most comfortable methods they had tried, but it felt a little jerky and unnatural. Luckily, the final version comes with smooth locomotion, and it feels very comfortable to play. Sure, there is a lack of orientation from being upside down and teleported all around, but I didn’t experience any VR dizziness.
The other change, unfortunately, doesn’t feel like a step forward. Visually, the PSVR version of the game, at least in its release state, feels a lot less crisp than the PC version did – which is a shame because the level art and design looks very cool and would benefit from a sharper look and feel.
What doesn’t help in that sense is that Telefrag VR only features a handful of maps to play on, so you’ll see a lot of the same things repeating themselves. That wouldn’t be so bad, but there’s a lack of gameplay modes and the online player pool for matchups hasn’t been great since launch. That won’t stop you from playing as AI bots are available to compete with, but they quickly became predictable and thus the novelty wore off. I would absolutely love to see some of Telefrag’s mechanics be translated to speed runs, puzzle levels or even a single player adventure, but with 1 on 1 arena combat being the only option it’s hard to imagine what the playing field will look like a few months from now.
But while there’s a lack of content, the core is solid. Telefrag VR has plenty of weapons to play with, some cool level designs and the occasional “heck yeah!” moment. It’s also a concept that works great in VR (the disorientation and changes in perspective are great and wouldn’t be the same on a monitor or TV), it’s just a shame that the game doesn’t appear to have the stamina to be a long lasting success. Nothing a few post-release content drops can’t fix though 🙂