With a launch lineup that features a lot of ports for existing games, the big first party showcase for PlayStation VR2 is Horizon Call of the Mountain – a platform exclusive that shows off the kind of experience that Sony’s new headset can deliver in the right hands. Obviously we couldn’t pass this one up – here’s our review.
In a way, Call of the Mountain feels like a “best of” title in the world of VR showcases. It has the immersive qualities of a game like Half-Life: Alyx, the “oooooh” factor that Robinson: The Journey had with its large dinosaurs on the first PSVR and the climbing that turned The Climb and its sequel into demo material games. In addition, it builds on the world that has been established in Zero Dawn and Forbidden West and it was produced by the talented folks at Guerilla and Firestride (Astro Bot) – so it’s no wonder that anticipation was high for this one.
Horizon Call of the Mountain introduces a new protagonist in the shape of Ryas, a former soldier looking to redeem himself. We think it’s a good move, because you’re playing from a first person perspective and Aloy movement style would be hard to replicate in VR. Now, things feel more authentic, like you can really be Ryas rather than a version of Aloy who doesn’t really feel like her.
And what helps a ton in making sure this is an immersive experience is the wealth of interactivity that’s on offer here – down to minute details. See a gong? You can actually hit it. And if you feel like painting a rock wall, then feel free to leave your mark on the game world that way as well. VR enthusiasts will definitely appreciate the degree to which you can interact with the world around you – something that Alyx was lauded for and it’s nice to see another game strive for that kind of immersion.
The game’s not just for VR adepts though, which can be seen in a Half-Life-esque opening sequences that eases you into the game with a boat ride before throwing you in at the deep end with combat and traversal, which often comes in the shape of climbing. It’s a bit of a VR staple at this point, but Call of the Mountain offers some of the best vistas while climbing since The Climb and The Climb 2 set benchmarks in the area.
Things look great up close as well, with lush environments, well animated characters and awe-inspiring robo-creatures that never cease to impress with the sense of scale that VR can deliver. Combine that with gorgeous lighting effects, and these are easily the best production values you’ll come across in the launch lineup for PSVR2. We realize the price of admission is high without other exclusives like this one, but it’s a game you’ll want to have played if you enjoy VR like we do.
If you look beyond the audiovisual splendor, the combat is pretty exciting as well – locking you in arena-like environments where you’ll constantly stay on the move while trying to launch arrows into the enemy at the same time. Because it makes much better use of motion controls than the simple “point and shoot” mechanics of VR shooters, it feels very immersive, sometimes tense and rewarding when you manage to walk out a winner.
Other elements will feel like “I’ve seen this a few times before” stuff if you’ve been around VR for a while. That’s especially true for the climbing, which features heavily in Horizon Call of the Mountain but doesn’t give you a richer or better experience than The Climb did all those years ago. Those are relatively minor issues though, because newcomers in particular will absolutely love this as a showcase of what their VR headset can do. It’s rather expensive for its six to eight hour length, but so far it’s the game you’ll want to have in your library if you feel the need to remind yourself why you got that PSVR2 headset in the first place. Impressive, and hopefully a sign of things to come for PSVR2 owners.
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