E3 2018 Hands-On – Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot VR Demo Is Just Plain Boring

Killing Nazis is one of the gaming world’s most beloved pastimes. The original Wolfenstein 3D on PC is a classic FPS that, along with the likes of DOOM, helped put first-person shooters on the map as a viable game genre. Naturally, murdering Nazis is ingrained into the DNA of what makes a good FPS and that tradition is alive and well today.
Call of Duty returned to WWII last year and Battlefield V is returning to the setting this year. Wolfenstein is back and better than ever with New Colossus releasing to critical and commercial success last year and now, sticking to their trend of creating VR iterations of their most successful franchises, Bethesda is planning to release Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot in 2019.
The game was first announced this past weekend at Bethesda’s E3 2018 press conference, along with a Prey VR adaptation, and new Elder Scrolls game that will feature VR support, and we got the chance to go hands-on with the Wolfenstein title at Bethesda’s booth on the show floor. You can see some footage of the game down in the trailer below:

A big part of what makes Wolfenstein so popular, at least nowadays, is how well it mixes over-the-top action and violence with thoughtful, gut-punching narrative representations of a twisted alternate reality in which the Nazi regime is in power. It’s not just a silly shooter full of action and blood, like Serious Sam, but it juggles multiple tones very well. I’m not sure that Cyberpilot, the VR edition of the revered franchise, is following in those complex footsteps.
Cyberpilot takes place about 20 years after the events of New Colossus. You play a resistance fighter that’s a hacker which means instead of barging in the front door of the Nazi base guns blazing, you’ll instead take control of their own machines and turn them against them. In the demo I played that meant piloting one of the fearsome fire-breathing Panzerhunds, which is like a tank, mixed with a mech, mixed with a lot of fire.
The demo I played at Bethesda’s booth was about 15 minutes long running on a Vive Pro plus the forthcoming Vive Wireless Adapter. Visually, it’s just as impressive as you’d expect anything Bethesda touches to be, but that’s about as far as my excitement went.

Thankfully it’s not an on-rails shooter like Archangel was at launch, but the controls never felt very good. I controlled movement across levels with the left Vive wand’s track pad and steered the cockpit by moving the right Vive wand laterally across my view. The crosshair was attached to that controller’s aim and it’d rotate the cockpit itself if I moved my hand far enough in either direction.
My character’s hands were represented inside the cockpit, but he never seemed to interact with any of the HUD elements. Granted, this could be because he is a hacker and is just “virtually” piloting it, kind of like the Wakandan’s in Black Panther, but it still implied a bit of a disconnect.
My Panzerhund had two attacks: fire breath and a ramming attack. The fire breath had good range and did a lot of damage, but was lacking the punch I expected. Piloting a giant, ferocious beast like a Panzerhund should have made me feel powerful, but it really didn’t feel like it at all. I’d have preferred a machine gun, or missiles, or something with some haptic feedback and recoil of some kind. The fire breath just felt really bland and weak.
Bashing things was fun, although the only items in the environment I could really bash were all of the destroyed cars laying about. They were conveniently placed right in front of large groups of enemies so when I bashed a car it mowed them all over.

And that was about it. I went down a few sewers and corridors, lit a few Nazis on fire, and fought some oversized mechs and robots. I wanted to like it, and maybe the full game will be better, but as of now I’m not too impressed.
We still don’t know the release date, but Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is currently slated for a 2019 release on multiple VR headsets. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!
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