Whether you want to try out a new virtual reality peripheral for the first time, or you’re brand new to the gaming genre and looking for something to serve as your “first steps” to acquaint you with games taking place 360 degrees around you, it can be difficult to choose the game to start with. With the recently released PlayStation VR2 for the PlayStation 5, my first game was Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded, a first-person shooter inspired by both 90s light-gun arcade games and the comedy horror film series Zombieland. Even though it was originally developed for the PC back in 2021, its bite-sized levels, diverse training options, control scheme, and other PSVR2 features make it a stellar option to jump in with.
The narrative of Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is minimalistic, which depending on whether you have followed the franchise to this point, may or may not be disappointing. However, I would say that for a VR game, what’s present gets the job done well enough. You play as yourself, a survivalist of the zombie outbreak, who is being trained by the likes of Tallahassee, Wichita, Columbus and Little Rock to become a zombie-killing machine in the ‘Zombieland Invitational’. While the game is broken up into short snippets of dialogue, and mission locations just involve running commentary from the team at base camp – it might not satisfy the itch of those hoping for a sequel to 2019’s Zombieland: Double Tap, but gives the game world flavour and does not impede the gameplay.
As noted above, Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is a game that caters to both VR newcomers and veterans due to its approach to progression, level structure, and gameplay mechanics. The game’s progression system is split up into locations of varying difficulty categories, which are unlocked incrementally as you complete tasks in each set of levels. These tasks include performing a certain number of Combo chains, finding hidden trinkets, and completing the stage within a specific time limit. While it can be frustrating to repeat a particular level multiple times, especially since zombie placement never changes, by the time you unlock the next set of levels, you should have developed the necessary skills to take on the challenge ahead.
Each level in Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is briskly-paced, with minimal downtime as you move from room to room in your selected combat area to take out all zombies. The game doesn’t offer a free-roam option. Instead, you move forward by looking at your destination once the area has been cleared of zombies. While you can technically stay in one spot for as long as you want, to keep the intensity up, even a brief glance at the next destination can send you running towards it, so there’s little time to catch your breath. Further, this fast-paced approach can be frustrating when hunting for each area’s hidden item, as you may spot it out of the corner of your eye as you leave the room permanently for that run – since with the number and variety of zombies can leave your attention occupied during the moments of combat. It should be noted that, although there is a limited number of areas to visit in the game, each is uniquely designed both from an aesthetic perspective and in the challenge it offers.
In terms of the actual gameplay, you will automatically be able to enter each area with an unlimited-ammo pistol in your dominant hand, with the ability to dual-wield one of many other firearm options in the other. These weapons can be unlocked by completing quests during normal gameplay and also upgraded through the game’s main currency – toilet paper rolls. Throughout play, you will also be able to unlock a range of abilities, of which up to three can be equipped at any one time. Want to dual-wield pistols and shoot your way through each level all Matrix-style? There is an ability for that! Sick of running out of ammo on your off-weapon? There is also an ability to somewhat rectify that. Struggling to get headshots? You start off with the ability to assist with that. The range and variety of options in-game to assist with any skill level and playstyle are good, and while nowhere near as in-depth as say, a non-VR first-person shooter offers everything you need for this VR experience.
One of the game’s core mechanics is in its name. Headshots are encouraged, not only because they can take down foes much quicker, but also allows you to fill your combo gauge and – arguably more importantly – enter Adrenaline Mode. Adrenaline Mode is where time slows down to a snail’s pace for a limited time, allowing you to (potentially) take down waves of enemies with more accuracy in a quicker time, and gaining a spot on the in-game leaderboard. Plus in some of the later areas, it can be a welcome couple of seconds just to take stock of what’s going on around you – as it is not too uncommon to be blind-sighted by a zombie just out of your field of vision – or alternatively, check if that zombie is a legitimate target or a harmless “Homer” who will give you a nasty time penalty.
But while the main levels are fun, I found a lot of simple fun in Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded’s practice range mode, which comprised of challenges in speed shooting, quick drawing (perfect practice for grabbing your secondary weapon) and accuracy. It is a great mode for showcasing the capabilities of the PlayStation VR2 and improving your skills. On the note of the PlayStation VR2 as the peripheral used to play this game, it functioned perfectly fine during my standing and sitting playtesting, with no issues of rogue controller movements, screen glitchiness or the like.
While not a game I would likely go back to as more and more games are made available for the PSVR2, Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded has shown to be a competently designed VR game. It is not only an enjoyable experience with a few well-implemented quirks of its own and some harrowing zombie designs, but it is a perfect showcase of what your new fancy (and expensive) VR hardware is capable of. Plus at $24.99 USD (or local equivalent) via the PlayStation Store, you should get your money’s worth, even compared to pricier options available to purchase and download.
Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is now available to purchase digitally on the PlayStation 5, and requires the PlayStation VR2 to play.
A review code for Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded was provided by the game’s publicity team for the purpose of this review.