Firewall Ultra Review | Motion Warfare

The hardest battle in Firewall Ultra is trying to load into one.

MSI Laptop 20th Anniversary Promotion

An immersive, tactical, modern shooter being released on the excellent PSVR2 sounds like a winning formula. FPS games have always been a safe genre to work with. While it may seem like it’s a bit overused, titles like Firewall Ultra attempt to shake things up, literally. 

If years of bad Kinect and Wii games have taught me anything is that motion controls just don’t fit well in a high-action game. There have been a few exceptional exemptions over the years that have convinced me otherwise but to this day, I still remain a skeptic. Even when I was booting up Firewall Ultra, I was gearing myself up for a buggy, unresponsive, and nauseating experience. Now that I’ve sunk in a few hours trying to convince my virtual reality self that I am a well-trained soldier, I’m glad to report that I was proven wrong. This game is genuinely fun to mess around in. 

Firewall Ultra is a compelling addition to the PSVR2 game catalog. When things are going well, this can be one of the most fun you can have on the system. However, with all its streamlining efforts, it does run the risk of being oversimplified. 

Ultra view

Firewall Ultra presentation

First things first, the game’s a looker. Push Square utilizes Unreal Engine 5 to great effect. All of Firewall Ultra’s 8 launch maps look fantastic in their own right. While I’m not a firearms expert, the gun models do look like their real-life counterparts—a key factor that the developers had to nail given the fact that you’re spending a lot of the time looking at it. 

The PSVR2’s upgraded display really shines with Firewall Ultra making it easily one of the best-looking games in the system in terms of a more realistic art direction. Everything is further supported by the excellent lighting system. Every dark corner, muzzle flash, and flickering light sources feels authentic and palpable. There is a great sense of immersion here. 

Unfortunately, the UI navigation could’ve been a little bit better. There were times when they felt messy and unintuitive to go through. While the game does use the eye tracking system of PSVR2 in a lot of interesting ways (more about this later), it felt janky when being used in the menus. 

Battle-hardened 

Another thing worth praising is Firewall Ultra’s performance. For me, it ran at a buttery smooth framerate which is always an essential factor when it comes to VR games given how high the risk of motion sickness can be. There were other players who would complain about random crashes, especially during their first couple of moments booting up the game but I didn’t experience them myself. 

And what’s a game’s performance if it doesn’t have good gameplay to support it? This is the area where I feel like will be the most divisive amongst players. Let’s first talk about the positives. Motion controls feel nice and responsive. While it’s not as unique as using the bow in Horizon: Call of the Wild, weapon handling in Firewall Ultra is amusingly intuitive. 

Holding down L2 will stabilize whatever gun you have and closing one of your eyes enables aiming down the sights. You then use either you’re left or your right arm to point and shoot. Great stuff. I remember spending unnecessary amounts of time in the shooting range at the start just messing around trying to shoot at targets. 

The PSVR2’s eye tracker is put to the test when it comes to the use of throwables. The distance of your grenade is determined by how far or close are you looking. You just have to hold down a button and look at the area where you want the nade to land. When it comes to defending yourself from enemy tactics, you simply have to close your eyes to avoid being affected by flashbangs. There’s no swinging of the arms or covering your eyes. Luckily, these systems do work 90% of the time. However, they do emphasize what is possibly the most polarizing aspect of the game.

For a VR motion game, Firewall Ultra has an odd lack of motion-related controls. Aside from the already aforementioned use of throwables, every interaction you have with the world whether it be opening doors, picking up ammo, accessing a computer, etc. is all done through button prompts. L1 is Push Sqare’s favorite button because that is what you’ll be seeing a lot of the time. 

Even reloading a gun is done by just pressing the X button. A real bummer for me when I first found out about it. However, I will say that as I kept going, I started appreciating the reduced motion inputs that are required from me because of how intense matches can get. What Push Square could’ve done is provide 2 gameplay options with one requiring more manual motions from the player and another being what they have now, favoring more button prompts. 

All out combat

Firewall Ultra match

There are 2 modes available right now in Firewall Ultra. First is Exfil, a PvE mode where you team up with 3 other players with the objective of hacking into 3 laptops before having to successfully extract. It can get really chaotic and a lot of fun especially when you match up with a bunch of cool folks and fire up the voice chat. The unfortunate caveat is that the AI is not all that great. It reminds me of Payday 2 where instead of intelligent enemy mobs, the game just throws them at you with numbers. 

The second and probably the more famous option is Contracts. This is the standard tactical PvP mode that pits two teams of four against each other. Teams rotate between attacking and defending where one side tries to gather intel from a laptop while the other has to stop them from doing so. Again, this is a mode where I had a lot of fun with. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people I matched up with were just nice gamers who never took anything too seriously. However, Contracts only has a best-of-3 format. While this is quick and easy, it does highlight Firewall Ultra’s matchmaking issues. 

It can take me 5 up to 10 minutes to load in a match with complete players to start. The waiting lobby does have its own shooting range with voice chat enabled so you can just play around with others. I love this addition and major props to the developers for thinking of such but I just wished that I didn’t have to use it as much. I’ve probably spent more time waiting than I did playing an actual match. It can get that bad. Another possible fix to this is to add a server list feature.

Firewall Ultra Final Verdict – 7/10

As someone who went into this thinking it would be instantly killed in action, I had a fun time pretending to shoot things up with some of the most genuine random gamers I’ve met on the internet. While the gunplay is not the most realistic, it’s still a lot more intuitive than I expected.

While I don’t think Firewall Ultra is going to be a reason why you should go out and buy a PSVR2 right now if you don’t have it, I will say that it’s worth checking out when you get the chance to do so. It’s fun, looks great, and has the potential to be even better with post-launch content support.

7

Firewall Ultra isn't exactly a PSVR2 system seller nor does it do enough to be a major standout in the tactical FPS genre. What it lacks in gameplay innovation is shadowed by its great visuals, smooth performance, and a fun time to be had in online matches. As long as you're able to load into one.