Zombie games lend themselves well to virtual reality. Having flesh-eating monsters gnawing at your heels is far more believable than it is on a disconnected screen. As a result there are a lot of zombie-based VR games from which to choose.
We’re already big fans of Killing Floor 2 – the 2016 first-person shooter – so when we heard the franchise was making its way into the VR universe, we grabbed a copy, popped on our HTC Vive headset, and got down to the dirty business of slaying zombies.
Same Zeds, different story
Loading up Killing Floor: Incursion, you find yourself in the body of a soldier who’s being operated on by machines and talked about as if he’s not there by a couple of technicians. Badly wounded, he’s put back into a coma as emergency lights start flashing and problems begin to occur. In his unconscious state, the soldier you’ve assumed is now thrown into a virtual world – which is apparently used as a training ground for facility employees. There’s a floating drone being operated by a person you’re yet to meet in a world just out of reach. As she guides you through your virtual world, it quickly becomes clear that something has gone awry.
Spawned into a backwater town, in the dead of night, you’re led up the garden path to an abandoned house full of zombies, lovingly referred to as “Zeds”. These creatures look more like aliens than traditional undead zombies.
This first level sees you gently eased into the zombie-filled environment. A couple of serrated knives on your back and a pistol on your holster are all you need. Initial zombies are easy enough to deal with, but you soon find you’re being attacked by angry spider-like zeds too.
At the controls: guns and limbs
Weapons are easy to use: guns reload easily via the press of the menu button, and if you drop them then they’ll even return to your holster in a flash.
Side triggers beam ammo and health into your hand to keep you replenished and revitalised. You can’t pick something up while you’re already holding a gun, so you need to drop or holster your weapons before you can grab another one or ammo to put in it. This requires some quick finger work when things get a bit hectic.
Different guns handle differently: with a shotgun you can keep loading shells constantly; with pistols you’ll need to switch mags, for which you’ll need to get the timing right when in the heat of battle (or alternate reloads between pistols if you’re using two).
If you are running low on ammo, you can bash zeds who dare to get too close with the butt of your pistol, your torch, or grab for a knife from your back instead. And when body parts go flying you can grab a detached zombie limb to use (there’s even an achievement for doing so-called “stop hitting yourself”).
As we worked our way through the game, we were pleased to get our hands on an assault rifle, and later a sniper rifle (which requires a frustrating but realistic bolt-pull to reload the chamber). These guns are a lot of fun – and although you technically need two hands to use them properly you can also dual-wield. At one point we had an assault rifle in each hand and felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger terminating zombies.
Moving through the environment
Movement in Incursion is controlled by beaming. Using the controllers you can beam to where ever you can see on the map with a limited distance. This teleport ability is limited to add to the tension. You can teleport out of danger, but if you teleport too quickly in quick succession then it shortens the distance you can travel and you end up unable to go any further.
A gauge on one wrist shows you how much power you have left in the teleport, while one on the other wrist shows you how much health you have left. Keeping an eye on these is tricky when your mind is on zombie slaying and staying alive, but you soon learn how far and how fast you can travel.
There are a total of four levels in the campaign and they can be played on your own or with a friend in co-op mode. The levels are made up of a dark farmhouse in a dingy woods, catacombs with bats and tight narrow walkways, underground sewers in Paris, and a biomedical laboratory where the maniacs who started the outbreak reside.
Each section ends with a large zed to deal with. These bosses take a lot to put down as you also have to fight off standard zeds at the same time. The fighting is intense, frantic and thrilling. Panic sets in when you’re pinned against a wall and running low on ammo, desperately grabbing at guns, switching weapons or bashing your way out of danger.
Generally speaking, moving through the main levels of the campaign doesn’t require a great deal of thinking. Just a lot of shooting, stabbing and stifling of your own screams. There are some puzzles, too, such as button sequences and door hacks.
Inevitable zombie death mode
The main campaign takes around four hours to complete, depending on your competence. Want more? Then there’s Holdout mode that puts you up against a never-ending barrage of tougher and tougher zombies without any respite. They don’t come in waves either, so this isn’t your classic wave-based zombie shooter. They just keep coming and coming and coming.
You start off this mode with just a pistol and two knives, but getting points unlocks other weapons. You get points by killing zeds and by shooting specific places – headshots clearly being the most valuable. Quickly more weapons become available to make life a little easier, including ones not featured in the main campaign mode.
Holdout mode turns Killing Floor: Incursion into one of the most frantic zombie games we’ve played. And one of the most addictive.
Killing Floor: Incursion is likely the most atmospheric, well-crafted and enjoyable zombie shooter we’ve played in virtual reality. It’s graphically beautiful, bug-free and thoroughly enjoyable.
We enjoyed the storyline (despite how short it is), the intense zombie battles, the variety of weapons, and the addition of puzzles and environmental interaction. It all makes Incursion far more interesting than your average wave shooter. It’s also a refreshing change to have British voice-overs and decent voice acting in a VR game.
In short, Killing Floor: Incursion is an absolute pleasure to play, even more so if you have a friend to enjoy it with. We only wish there was more of it.
Alternatives to consider
Arizona Sunshine is another hard favourite of ours. It’s a brilliant zombie shooter that probably has more hours of potential gameplay in it and co-op to boot. It’s also wonderfully atmosphere and brilliantly crafted. It’s certainly a great alternative if you’re looking for a cracking VR zombie game.
Read the full article: Arizona Sunshine review
The Brookhaven Experiment
If you’re a fan of zombies and horrible spider monsters trying to eat your face in the dark, then the Brookhaven Experiment is another one not to be missed. It’s creepy, atmospheric and thoroughly enjoyable.
Read the full article: The Brookhaven Experiment review