Sniper Elite VR is more than just a spin-off, it’s the most immersive Nazi slaying simulator we’ve ever played. And before you ask, yes, you can watch a fascist’s balls erupt even closer now thanks to the magic of virtual reality.
Sniper Elite VR just… works. The name alone immediately conjures up a strong idea of what to expect, moving away from the traditional third person shooter template of the main games. However, Rebellion’s latest entry in the long-running series still has many of features you’d expect from a mainline Sniper Elite title.
Series die-hards may be upset to learn that Sniper Elite protagonist, Karl Fairburne, is sitting this one out. Instead, you’ll play as a resistance fighter during World War II, carrying out attacks on Germans during their invasion of southern Italy.
In truth, Sniper Elite VR didn’t really need a story, but Rebellion has done a decent job in sandwiching levels between some light exposition. Flung forty years into the future, these sections have you thumbing through a journal of war stories as your family frolic around the farmstead that once housed your ragtag resistance group. It’s a nice way of framing the game, and one that gives you a breather after the Nazi killcam conga line.
Another unsurprising change here is the shift away from larger environments. Rebellion has found a nice middle ground between those vastly explorable levels of past games and focused shooting galleries. Each chapter can take between roughly 10 to 30 minutes to complete, stitching together a string of intense firefights.
Shooting gameplay is obviously the highlight here. Using an arsenal of authentic World War II weapons, you’ll defend your motherland from Nazi invaders, packing not just a sniper rifle but pistols, SMGs, and shotguns too. Grenades also come in handy, as do traps, Sniper Elite VR giving you the freedom to approach each battle with your own modified loadout.
On PlayStation VR there are three control methods available, all of them allowing you to move around freely and interact with the environment. Sniper Elite VR is compatible with PlayStation Move, DualShock 4, and Sony’s Aim Controller. It’s the latter option that most PSVR vets will surely go for first.
The Aim is still a nifty peripheral and one that lets you feel as though you’re wielding a sniper rifle. Pulling that trigger only gets more intense when you factor in Sniper Elite’s most gruesome party trick. Pull off an impressive shot and the game will cut to a slow-mo killcam, showing the bullet’s path with every shattered bone and pierced organ.
Using two PlayStation Move wands is arguably the more immersive control method, though. All options allow for complete free movement (or teleporting, if you prefer) though playing with Move is the only way to make use of both hands. Yanking the lever on a bolt action sniper rifle helps dial up the immersion for sure, though this is by far the most finicky way of playing Sniper Elite VR.
The DualShock 4 holds up surprisingly well here. That’s great news for those who don’t fancy forking out on expensive motion controllers. Although it doesn’t offer quite the same wow factor, Rebellion hhasve ported over a button layout that will feel instantly familiar to Sniper Elite fans.
When you aren’t fighting the Nazis head on, you’ll be stalking them around the map. Stealth has always been a weaker point for the Sniper Elite series though here it’s slightly more forgiving. If anything, it helps add variety to the gameplay mix instead of having you making a beeline between battles.
With 18 replayable levels, you won’t be left feeling short-changed by Sniper Elite VR. The stages are compact enough that I found myself diving back in to increase my scores on the leaderboards and hunt after any challenge stars I might have missed. Besides the game’s content, Rebellion offer a fantastic range of VR options so everyone can play in a way that’s tailored to your individual comfort settings.