Arizona Sunshine is the best-selling VR game on Steam, and now it’s getting a port to PS4 and PS Pro. According to the guys who are making it, Vertigo Games, one-in-five virtual reality users on PC own a copy, and it’s constantly near the top of the VR charts on Steam. However, with such a small number of Oculus and Vive systems in the world, even the fact you’re the most popular VR game on PC is no guarantee of success. That’s why the team has put a hell of a lot of work into getting Arizona Sunshine ready for PSVR - which now boasts over 1.2 million headsets sold, but an ever-diminishing list of forthcoming games. Given the hunger for new things to play among VR owners, and the fact Arizona Sunshine is such a great game already, it seems a match made in virtually simulated heaven.
The concept is wonderfully simple, which is more important for VR than you might think. The lack of fussy plot and exposition means you’re ready to immerse yourself in the world more quickly. You play as an unnamed guy who has been surviving on his own in the desert after a zombie apocalypse has ravaged the earth. He sets off in search of a military base, which has taken in human survivors, but… obviously, once he reaches it, the place has been overrun by the undead. Let’s face it, the narrative just exists as an excuse to throw zombies into your cross-hairs in different settings.
On PC, Arizona Sunshine uses the various motion controllers of the Vive and Oculus, but with PSVR the creators have added a handful of options to make it more console friendly. If you’re playing with Move wands, you can play the game as normal - one gun in each hand, a belt full of ammo and grenades, and a movement system that just allows you to ‘point and teleport’ your way through each area. If you’re all fancy and own that new Aim Controller, the game allows you to play through the 5-6 hour story with two-handed weapons, like rifles, so you don’t feel weird using two hands to point a small pistol at your foes. There’s even an option to just use the DualShock, although it’s far less immersive.
And because the PSVR’s tracking is a little limited compared to its PC rivals, much of the hard work of picking up items and interacting with stuff can be done with a single button press instead of having to physically recreate the motion yourself. Yeah, it may sound cool picking up each individual ammo clip by hand, but soon gets old - on PSVR you just look and press a button to grab. Sure, Arizona Sunshine has been streamlined for console, but the team has tried to keep it looking and running as effectively as it does on a high-end PC. On PS4, you’re never going to achieve that, but the PS Pro version isn’t much different.
There’s a delightful simplicity to the gameplay too. Obviously, the core is shooting zombies. Aim at their heads, and they explode in a pleasing shower of mush. Blow off legs, and they fall. Lob a grenade, and the zombies die en masse. It’s a VR shooter - you know how it works. During my playthrough the limited selection of weapons I used felt roughly the same, and the feedback from firing them wasn’t particularly satisfying, but that’s one criticism of an otherwise hugely entertaining shooter.
Movement, as I mentioned earlier, can be done a number of ways. Sure, you can go full FPS controls, but that makes most people massively sick in VR. I use the ‘point and teleport’ system, where you look at a point on the floor, push the thumbstick forward, and you automatically teleport to it. You can flick the stick to turn 90 degrees, or even spin a full 180. Absolutely no chance of losing your breakfast.
This movement system is a little jarring in the game’s co-op mode, which lets you and a friend tackle the whole main story. Seeing your buddy suddenly teleporting in front of you takes a little getting used to, and it makes tactical coordination more of a challenge, but the fact you don’t feel sick and can shift about freely more than makes up for it. Sure, you need to truly master the movement before heading into the four-player horde mode, but that’s recommended for anyone who has finished the campaign. Which I didn’t. Which explains why I died a lot when I played it.
This is where you tell me to “Git gud”. Well, I genuinely intend to when Arizona Sunshine hits PSVR on 27 June. The simple joy of blasting zombies in the desert, scavenging ammo, and finding new hats to wear (that’s a thing) is perfect nourishment for anyone starved of decent virtual reality gaming.