Executive Chairman: David Moradi
President & CEO: Christopher Nicholls
Also Available On: N/A
Release Date: 24/08/23
I was a fan of the original Firewall game that was released on PSVR, its downfall being the restrictions of the PS4 and PSVR technology. These limiting factors shortened my time spent with the earlier game, as well as a lack of companions to play and a change in preference for my HTC Vive Pro headset. I recently acquired a PS VR2, and I have been loving my experience with it so far. It’s a great companion piece for the PS5, and it is a massive leap forward over the original PSVR and even my Vive headset. With intuitive controls and superior clarity, I enjoy playing and replaying many of my previous VR titles. Now, with the chance to experience Firewall Ultra on my PS VR2, I couldn’t wait to jump in and enjoy it.
I first booted the game up one morning before work. It was early, and I had about an hour to play. I cleared a two-metre square space in my living room to ensure room scale was available, and I was soon ready to get down to business. I put on my headset, loaded Firewall Ultra and played through the tutorial, which featured an abundance of items to play with, including various guns and grenades. The tutorial also features movement training, learning to move within the facility. I soon completed the tutorial and decided to pack up; the game remained on my mind most of the day while I worked. The tutorial level consisted of a medium-sized training facility; some would recognise similar designs in other shooter titles. It was constructed of MDF timber walls, shipping crates, multiple storage crates, gun lockers, boxes of grenades and ammo, and features various training areas. The training areas consisted of targets, gun ranges, and sniper nests, allowing me to get a feel of various weapons before diving into the main game.
After completing all the training, I went into completing the trial run, which is a gun range test run, working through a series of hallways, rooms and target types, aiming for the best speed and accuracy. I ran through with a pistol, shotgun, SMG, and Assault Rifle, scoring mid-tier proficiencies with all these weapons. Ensuring not to shoot civilian targets and eliminating the enemy targets is fun and tested my skills.
While playing in the training facility, I took the chance to work on the settings, manipulating the advanced options to make the gameplay feel best for me. Movement is controlled by the two Sense Controllers, with the joysticks being the primary form of movement, right for body and movement, left for head and aiming. On top of the joysticks, I could aim and look by moving my head, the right joystick-controlled motion, and could be toggled between walking and running by clicking the joystick or R3. The head movement was controlled by turning my head or using the left joystick to swivel, and this setting could be changed to be a smooth motion at various speeds or as a fast flick in different degrees, such as 25, 30, and 45 degrees. I went with the smooth motion at a high speed. While this might cause some motion sickness, I have not had this issue. The other buttons had a range of functions and could be toggled for primary or non-primary hands. I am right dominant, so the controls worked as follows. R2 was my trigger, firing the weapon or tossing grenades, while L1 was used for opening doors, changing to two hands on the gun, or selecting items on the screen. The circle was weapon swap, hold and look to swap or press quickly to change to the knife, X was for reloading, while the square was used to switch on accessories like a flashlight or the laser. There is also a vast number of options for all user accessibility needs.
The following morning, I had some free time and decided to log in and try my hand at some online matches. There are various modes, including 4v4 Search and Destroy, 2v2 PVE and 4-player PVE. All are designed around a similar idea: search for or protect a laptop and defeat the opponents. In my first few matches, I found some fellow players using in-game matchmaking. While some games tend to have a few hotheads, the players I found were great people who were happy to play with a newb.
With my early morning sessions, I have yet to meet more Australians enjoying the game, but I have been having fun with the random strangers I have met and only finding a bit of lag on random occasions. The game has a competitive crowd, and I would love to say I am destroying my fellow players, but the truth is I am still coming to grips with the various weapons, gameplay, and maps. I do find myself winning and losing in equal numbers.
The core gameplay of Firewall Ultra is fun, but becoming familiar with the controls and maps takes time. I was able to get a bunch of kills and successfully hack the enemy’s computer. The PVE matches are slightly different, where teamwork is key. Working in a team, we moved to hack the firewall and discover the enemy’s computer network, and the laptops were labelled Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie. Our squad would move to find these laptops, hack them, and stay close till the hack was complete, defending ourselves against an increasingly tricky defence force. Once this task is complete, it’s a race to get back to the exfiltration zone, the surviving members getting exfiltrated. The enemy’s level of danger is identifiable via indicators on their uniform, with the easiest type being green, medium being yellow and red being the hardest. The enemies can be hard to defeat and were more intelligent than I expected, using breach and assault tactics against our recently formed team.
Sony’s implementation of eye tracking is unquestionably one of the best features in this VR system; browsing menus or searching weapon wheels is easy, and selecting the required weapons was made so much easier with this system. Using the two sense controllers to stabilise weapons is as easy as getting the hands in the correct position and clicking the L1 or R1 button, depending on the dominant hand, following this, I was able to look down the sights by closing one eye and moving the gun into position. Having the gun in this setup made shots more accurate and slowed your movement. It was an interesting way to slow gameplay and force players to develop tactics. The built-in microphone and earbuds go a long way to assisting with this. Calling out to fellow players was the crucial element in more than one of my matches.
The improvement in graphics and playability has been a highlight as well. The easy-to-use eye tracking and visual fidelity allow for smooth transitions, which are very well done and impressed me to no end. The voice clarity and built-in microphone are highly effective in the game and made communication with my team easy. Having the zoom/sight function using a winking method is a great addition, as well as closing eyes to defend against flash bangs. Although reviving, using doors, and accessing items using the L1/R1 button is sometimes awkward as you will grab your gun with a second hand instead of doing the intended action, while this is not game-breaking, it gets annoying when your tensions are already running high. Outside of that small annoyance, the game is fun to play; jumping into a match was quick. I was finding matches around the five-minute mark at worst and about thirty to sixty seconds more regularly, with matches loading at the faster end of the spectrum when the squad was full.
I have enjoyed chatting and working with a team of random strangers to complete the operations and try and defeat other teams. I have had more fun when playing against the AI as it has allowed me further to develop my skills against a more predictable enemy type. I will continue playing Firewall Ultra and hope to get time to play with friends, as this would give me a better tactical advantage. In the meantime, I can’t wait to jump back in.