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50 Days of PS VR #49: Battlezone

49 days to go! We’re counting down to the release of PlayStation VR on October 13th by highlighting one game a day for the anticipated headset. Today we’re looking at Battlezone and its efforts to redefine the tank genre.

Fresh from its win at Europe’s largest gaming conference, where it was recognized as the best casual game, the re-imagined tank game Battlezone is officially complete. The game is now available for pre-order ahead of its Oct. 13 release alongside PS VR.

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What EVE: Valkyrie did for games where you fly a spaceship, Battlezone aims to do for games where you control a tank. That is, re-imagine a whole genre for virtual reality. If you’ve been interested in games long enough, you might remember the original Battlezone from 1980 — an arcade game where you looked through a periscope.  And if you remember that game, you probably aren’t going to like being reminded that was more than 35 years ago, and during that interim, mechanized combat games became one of the most tried and true genres for video games.

The new version from Rebellion puts you right in the center of a vehicle that might either be heavily armored or speedier, depending which kind of tank you choose and what kind of load-out it carries. There’s special equipment too that you can use for certain effects, like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to stop nearby enemies or another item that will tear them down over time.

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Battlezone promises “many” weapons you can upgrade throughout a procedurally generated campaign, so it’ll never be the same game when you play it through again. You fight off a long list of robot enemies, including flying swarms, nimble tanks and even one that lays mines.

It features a colorful, glowing, landscape made up of simple shapes that look fantastic in VR to help hide — in the same way Lucky’s Tale on Rift does — that the resolution of first generation VR headsets is fairly limited.

Games set inside vehicles are a nice fit for VR because the cabin around the player gives you a frame of reference keeping you grounded and comfortable even during intense movement. This means that people will look to Battlezone as a guidepost for whether the decisions Rebellion made during design were enough to keep the vast majority of players comfortable inside VR. That’s a big achievement in and of itself, but if Battlezone is also a great game — and it sure seems to be shaping up strong — it really will redefine the genre.

As we wrote in our hands-on impression from E3, “There’s nothing here that’s shockingly new about tank games, except for the fact that Battlezone makes clear that they were always meant to be played in a VR headset. So while it looks like it could be one of the first, Battlezone won’t be the last tank game in VR.”

Battlezone is coming to PlayStation VR first, but it’s also planned for Oculus and Steam as well, with the possibility of a non-VR version being discussed.


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