When it comes to first person shooters for the PlayStation VR, quality choices are slim. While Farpoint and Superhot VR offer some fantastic first person shooter options, nothing has been released that tackles the military first person shooter genre.
Developed by Supermassive Games (Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda), Bravo Team aims to provide a VR experience heavily focused on military action. While Bravo Team provides brief glimpses of greatness throughout the 3 – 4 hour campaign, unfortunately the end product feels like a rushed and unpolished release.
The plot of Bravo Team has the player controlling two members of the aforementioned team, who have just witnessed the assassination of a foreign president. While vague allusions are provided throughout the campaign attempting to provide some sort of reasoning for the assassination, nothing is truly explained until the final ten minutes of the game. I wish I could speak further on the narrative plot, but Bravo Team’s thin narrative threads that weave this campaign’s short length together are a definite backseat to the military action. Your playable characters aren’t given any time to build themselves into actual human beings with emotions, and aside from the rarely mentioned codenames of Tinman and Scarecrow, I know next to nothing about these characters. While Bravo Team does offer slight variations on the narratives climax depending on your final choice, all three similar endings don’t provide a satisfying conclusion to the generic plot.
Within the first 60 seconds of Bravo Team’s campaign you will find yourself with a weapon in hand, battling wave after wave of masked enemies. While this is all well and good, Bravo Team struggles to add variety throughout the campaign’s short length. The enemies you encounter during your first mission are the same enemies you will encounter during every chapter of the campaign, with only slight variations appearing during certain chapters. This repetition also carries over to the four weapons available throughout Bravo Team, as two of those weapons are only available during select chapters. With almost no story to keep me hooked, the same linear mission structure against the same enemy type, with the same weaponry becomes a tedious affair after a few chapters. Bravo Team also provides a Score Attack mode and the option to bring in an online multiplayer partner, but both modes tackle the same mission and enemy locations, which doesn’t offer much in the way of incentivising multiple playthroughs.
Bravo Team can be played in a variety of ways, either with the DualShock 4, PlayStation Move, or with the bundled PlayStation VR Aim; I used the VR Aim controller for my playthrough. Utilising the VR Aim controller shooting in Bravo Team feels responsive and I particularly loved the kickback the assault rifle has on screen, which meant I had to account for the weapon recoil when taking precise shots. Utilising the VR tracking, players are able to stand up in cover or simply lean around corners to get the drop on enemies, all VR related controls work very well and aside from a few issues with the PlayStation Camera’s field of view I didn’t have any problems in this area. As previously stated there are only four weapons in Bravo Team, an assault rifle, sidearm, sniper rifle and shotgun. The assault rifle is sufficient to complete the entire campaign and is easily the most fun to use. The sidearm and shotgun are almost useless and there are barely any scenes where close range combat is required. While the sniper rifle is barely used, I did appreciate the fact it required the player to lean close to the scope of the rifle in order to clearly see through the sights of the weapon.
When Bravo Team runs well and doesn’t have any technical problems, it offers glimpses into the adrenaline filled action gameplay it has the potential to deliver. There were a number of hectic shootouts with enemy soldiers that became extremely frantic when enemies closed in from all angles. This is where utilising Bravo Team’s 180 degree switch of view mechanic becomes essential. With one flick of the analog stick your character will face the opposite way, which meant there were moments I was laying down supressing fire in front of me, before turning around to tackle enemy combatants on my six. These moments were fantastic, but I only wish these frenetically paced moments occurred more often.
One of Bravo Team’s most jarring features is the switching of view when changing cover positions. Instead of simply teleporting or allowing players to move along with the character, players view will remain at the current cover position as you see your character run to the next cover point in a third person view, before teleporting back to the new cover location; it is such a strange and jarring implementation of changing viewpoints. Another one of Bravo Team’s issues is the inconsistencies with cover and hit detection. Over a dozen times I had shots lined up on enemy combatants only for my gun not to fire because the game detected I was firing into cover, which I was not. Enemies would also randomly be visible behind cover, only for the object to then become visible when they stood up. These may seem like minor details, but when every fire fight is plagued with poor cover detection and a number of enemies crouching down behind invisible cover, it simply puts a damper on the intense atmosphere.
Unfortunately some of Bravo Team’s biggest issues are with its technical and visual performance. During my time with Bravo Team I ran into a number of issues, ranging from multiple game crashes (in particular one section of the game which crashed 5 times), partner AI problems that saw my partner stuck on the environment forcing a restart, environmental clipping, and enemies spawning out of thin air in the middle of the battlefield. These technical issues lead me to speculate if the finished product was rushed to be released, as a lot of these technical issues are so apparent that I cannot understand how they were missed before release.
Bravo Team also has a weird style visually, as the game world itself has an unappealing muddy filter causing most of the environments to have a grimy texture. From abandoned cars, office walls, or stone ledges, the entire world suffers from this brown visual style. The VR visuals of Bravo Team don’t rival many of the titles in the PlayStation VR library, and perhaps this is why the gloomy style was chosen.
Overall, I wanted to love Bravo Team as the adrenaline filled battles (when done perfectly) are fantastic, and offer an intensity that standard first person shooters cannot provide. However, the generic campaign, myriad of technical issues, muddy visual style, and linear mission structure cannot be ignored. Bravo Team feels like a game that had some fantastic ideas, but didn’t have enough time to focus on them, and instead was shipped out the door before it was ready. Perhaps Bravo Team will become a stronger product in the coming months after a few downloadable updates, but in its current form I cannot recommend Bravo Team unless you are extremely craving to experience a military-based shooter in virtual reality.