VAIL VR is a window into the future of virtual reality FPS games

Reyab and Colonist from VAIL VR standing back-to-back
Credit: AEXLAB

Reyab and Colonist from VAIL VR standing back-to-back
Credit: AEXLAB

Sweat pours down my face, worrying that I won't make it as the surviving member of my squad. My fingers clutch against the trigger, as it all comes down to, potentially, my last moments. The Artifact is slowly being scanned, and I keep an eye on it, while peaking from behind a nearby crate. A black mass slowly makes its way around the corner, and the anxiety causes me to start shooting. Some miss, some land, but my bullets finish off the last enemy. Excited screams come across my headset as the beloved Victory message pops up on my screen. I realise, VAIL is pretty damn good.

If you own one of the best VR headsets right now, whether it's a Quest or not, I'd argue that VAIL VR is certainly worth the asking price. Not only is it cross play, making it one of the best PCVR games on Steam right now as well, but there's a consistent player base actively taking part in VAIL VR.

That's because it's actually incredible. There's no gameplay gimmicks that make VAIL VR a game that only works in virtual reality. In fact, I imagine the game could work as a flat screen title. But that's what makes VAIL VR satisfying - a focus on creating a solid FPS as opposed to a solid virtual reality game.

It's a mixture of Call of Duty and Counter-Strike, two FPS games that are, arguably, world's apart. However, the intensity and anxiety-inducing gameplay from Counter-Strike comes in the form of virtual reality's focus on creating immersive experiences. You can't just press a button to reload your gun, but you'll need to actively take out the magazine and equip a new mag, occasionally having to empty the chamber.

However, the fast-paced gameplay, especially in game modes like Team Deathmatch, is undoubtedly more CoD-like. Of course, modes like Artifact, which is VAIL's take on Search and Destroy, are more competitive, but TDM is less team-focused and more "kill anything that moves", which will certainly appeal to fans of arena shooters.

But what makes VAIL VR more special than other FPS games in virtual reality? I'm not entirely sure, but everything clicks much better. My preferred experience in VR is playing the best games like Blade and Sorcery, where I like to slash at enemies close-up with melee or magic. But VAIL VR's focus on shooter gameplay that remains close in nature to the flatscreen greats keeps me coming back, just like Call of Duty did years ago.

VAIL VR isn't perfect - there's a high learning curve, and much like Call of Duty, there's a fair amount of younger kids screaming down the microphones as their avatar is murdered by the opposing team. But when things go right, and you get a solid team, the immersion of VAIL VR is much more exciting and competitive than the greatest FPS games on PC.

I'm sure there will be plenty of exciting FPS games coming to VR in the near future, especially as it becomes more mainstream over time. But, for now, VAIL VR is a great idea of what VR shooters should be.

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