After the Fall Review

After the Fall VR Header

Co-op zombie shooters have lurched back into the spotlight in 2021, but After the Fall is a co-op shooter with a difference. Sure, you’ll still be exploring dark, dilapidated buildings whilst you fight off hordes of the undead on your way to the next safe room, but this time you’re doing it in VR. It’s basically Left 4 Dead VR, except now the zombies are called snowies and are all around you in 3D. Scary!

The game makes a mixed first impression on PSVR. The first thing you notice when you start the game are some blurry textures and environment, which stands in contrast to the nicely detailed guns and character models. The PSVR version is also missing details compared to the more powerful PC-based VR headsets, which have more incidental details like posters, hanging cables and so on. Thankfully the game’s lighting, character/weapon models, and always focusing on not getting eaten means that you don’t really notice the cutbacks after a while anyway.

Thankfully the gameplay is significantly better. You slowly make your way through each level, taking out hordes of zombies as you go, occasionally completing a set piece like lowering a cargo container to create a path forward whilst hordes swarm you. Gunplay is responsive and fast, allowing you to efficiently headshot enemies at will or just pump your shotgun into a crowd of them, whichever you prefer. It’s immensely satisfying to efficiently decimate a horde or a Juggernaut, especially whilst you’re coordinating with your co-op partners. It is a lot of fun to actually play.

After the Fall VR Gameplay

So far, so Left 4 Dead, but After the Fall differs from its inspiration in a variety of ways. While there are special zombies in After the Fall, they boil down to an explosive one that fogs up your eyesight and three larger ones that are varying degrees of bullet sponge. There’s no smokers to pull you out of safety, no spitters to smartly split up the group, no creepy witch to terrify you out of nowhere, just a boomer and three increasingly large tanks.

It’s a lot more straightforward than Left 4 Dead elsewhere as well. There doesn’t seem to be an AI director in the background summoning hordes because you’re taking too long hunting for resources and there are no melee weapons or attacks at all, so if samurai sword-ing your way through zombie hordes is what you are after, you’d best stick to Saints and Sinners.

It’s not all changes that simplify the experience, though. The big enemies have weakpoints to shoot to take them down quicker, and your mission is more than just surviving in After the Fall. Here you’re sent out to collect Harvest, a resource which is dropped by zombies when they die, and is then used as a currency to buy and upgrade your weaponry. You retain your inventory between levels in After the Fall, and you have six guns to fill it with – your choice of two pistols, an uzi, assault rifle, shotgun, and light machine gun. Each of these can have various attachments like reflex sights, barrels to increase accuracy or decrease recoil, and more.

It’s a good system allowing you to customise your favourite gun exactly how you like it, but unlocking attachments is a chore. You find floppy discs scattered around the levels, each of which will award you with a new attachment if you can get them to a safe room and finish the level. The problem is that you get an awful lot of duplicates and attachments for weapons that you don’t want to use, so it will take a long time to unlock the ones that you actually want. I still don’t have a sight for the heavy pistol I’ve been using since about 40 minutes into the game.

After the Fall VR Juggternau

The biggest complaint I have is that there are only five levels at launch – more are promised through post-release seasons. They take about 15-20 minutes each to finish, you can quite comfortably finish them all on rookie in one sitting. Replay value is meant to come from upgrading your weaponry, but that can only keep you entertained for so long before repeating the five levels begins to blunt your enthusiasm.

This is exacerbated by the limited number of special infected and the lack of gameplay variety they offer – you just run away and shoot the weakpoints for three of them. The Juggernaut, a super tall infected with body armour on, picks up a player before killing them, allowing the player to escape if the infected’s head takes enough damage. This is a great touch and I’d like to see more ideas like this for the bigger enemies, as outside of this you’re just unloading your ammo reserves into them without any health bars to let you know how you’re doing.

There are other issues, such as with the two reloading systems. The simpler of the two has you eject the spent magazine and then move the gun to your chest to reload, while the more complex has you place the new magazine into the gun and then pull back the slide. The latter boosts the cash you earn, but it’s too fiddly with the PSVR Move controllers. I also had trouble aiming the assault rifle with two hands, both problems likely down to the less-than-amazing tracking that PSVR offers compared to other VR headsets.

After the Fall VR Co-op

Speaking of tracking, sometimes your head clips through bits of scenery and this causes the game to go completely black and stop you from moving. If you’re lucky you can physically wiggle your head out of the scenery to fix it, but I had one person have to leave the match because they were stuck in this void. And the matchmaking will only start a game when the host decides to start, which often leads to lobbies stuck with people joining and rejoining in a parade of players hoping for a game to start.

At least cross-play works well, though you’ll need to use a nine character in-game ID to add people to a cross-platform friends list. The game does disband your party every time you return to the hub rather than voting to go onto another level, forcing you to get together again for some reason.

After the Fall is a fun co-op zombie shooter in VR, but with a lack of content at launch, awkwardly randomised attachment unlocks, and constantly separating parties between levels, it's not without issues. I really want to love After the Fall and, honestly, I would be at peace with all of its flaws if it had more content.
  • Great gunplay
  • Weapon customisation
  • Only five levels
  • Very rough around the edges
  • Slow attachment unlocks
  • Some party management awkwardness

1 Comment

  1. After sharing some snowie shooting with you, I have to agree. It reminded me a lot of the underwhelming Walking Dead: Onslaught but without the range of weaponry and tie in licence. The lack of melee is perhaps the most disappointing aspect. I love the feeling of swinging weapons in VR whereas this feels too much like an old school arcade gun game. Extra content being locked behind DLC purchase is another big issue – will be interesting to see if they backpedal a bit on that with the lack of stuff to do here.

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