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Arizona Sunshine 2 Hands-On: Killing Zombies With Man's Best Buddy

Arizona Sunshine 2 Hands-On: Killing Zombies With Man's Best Buddy

We recently went hands-on with Arizona Sunshine 2 from Vertigo Games on PC VR. Here's our first look at how the sequel aims to build on its predecessor.

Zombies are a pretty common foe in VR and Arizona Sunshine from Vertigo Games gets some credit for being early with its release in 2016. Though the genre has evolved with more recent efforts like Chapters 1 & 2 of The Walking Dead Saints & Sinners, Arizona Sunshine 2 looks to take you back out to the desert with a new slate of tools at your disposal.

Arizona Sunshine 2 gore

Here's the official descrption:

Welcome back to sun-kissed, zombified Arizona. Narrated by the unmistakable quips of our dark-humored protagonist, Arizona Sunshine 2 sets you on an all-new limb-strewn adventure in search of answers. In a post-apocalyptic world where every bullet counts, experience the thrill of realistic combat as you wield all-new and fan-favorite weapons--from shotguns to machetes and flamethrowers.

And what's better than braving the end of the f*cking world? Surviving it with your new best friend--Buddy. Not only is Buddy your four-legged companion through thick and thin, he’s also the goodest boy and will help take down those pesky Freds for you.

Man's Best Friend In The Apocalypse? Buddy

Flamethrower And Buddy

The biggest addition for Arizona Sunshine 2 is Buddy – a canine you can command to attack zombies or retrieve objects for you. I asked if the dog dies and the developers wouldn't give me a direct answer, explaining over email that "Buddy is an integral part of AS2."

Vertigo offered me a standing demo during a meeting in New York and I played through a segment from the game in Quest 2 over a PC link. In just a few minutes, I had a solid grasp of the range of tools at your disposal here, including your standard array of hand-held firearms, limited-use melee weapons, and of course quickly commanding a battle-hardened Buddy to take out either the fastest or nearest zombie.

Managing an onslaught of incoming zombies with this range of tools worked really well, and I quickly started to keep an eye out for Buddy both out of tactical and emotional concern. The slice of Arizona Sunshine 2 I tried wasn't deep enough to judge whether the pacing of the game and difficulty of the enemies will entertain over long periods, but I enjoyed laying waste to the hordes and the fundamentals of combat here worked.

Arizona Sunshine 2's gruesome zombies feature a surprising amount of detail and variety.

When asked whether Arizona Sunshine 2 would have a cooperative mode like the first game, Vertigo's Game Director Peter Deurloo, responded over email writing:

"Much of Arizona Sunshine's triumph stemmed from its multiplayer experience. Ignoring this in the sequel would be a significant misstep."

Well we'd certainly love to know more on that front, then, and Vertigo is sure to release more details closer to launch, with this just being a first look at the new game.

Overall, I got the sense Vertigo Games has the bones of a strong zombie sequel here, but I'm not convinced it's ready to come together immediately and we'll absolutely have to see what the final package looks like. As of this writing, Arizona Sunshine 2 developers are "working really hard for a Q4 2023 /Q1 2024" release.

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