As someone who was lucky enough to be a teenager in the 90s, I am very much a fan of old-school arena shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament. That's why Telefrag VR caught my eye; its pre-release press releases boasted of fast-paced, visceral movement and combat mechanics that were directly inspired by those immortal video game classics.
But does Telefrag VR really live up to the hype from its PR department? You can find out in this week's episode of Ian's VR Corner, which you can find just below these words.
Before I go any further, I should point out that I have only played Telefrag VR in its pre-release, review phase. During this time the public lobbies were empty so my criticisms are based on vs matches with bots only. With that said, apart from perhaps some more challenging opponents, I can't imagine the overall experience being that different once human players are introduced.
Telefrag VR is a 1v1 arena shooter with crossplay across PSVR and PC platforms, so there's a good chance that there will be plenty of real opponents in the lobbies now that the game has been released. This is a huge bonus because, while Telefrag VR is playable with bots, they offer little in the way of challenge - even on Nightmare difficulty.
Each match is best of three and they take place on one of five, relatively small arenas. Rather than being set across one flat level, Telefrag VR's arenas consist of various, gravity-defying platforms that can be reached via static portals or by firing your teleporting weapon at them and jumping to them directly. The twist here is that you can even kill your opponent by teleporting directly on top of them, leading to a satisfying one-hit-kill called a Telefrag.
Telefrag VR underwhelms in the graphics department, at least on the PSVR build that I played. The colours are washed out and the visuals are very blurry compared to the trailer footage taken from the PC version. Perhaps this is something a patch could sort out down the line, but as of launch, the arenas in PSVR looked noticeably low-res and muddy.
The fast-paced combat of Telefrag VR is also going to be a bit of an issue for those of you who are prone to VR motion sickness. The speed of the action can get pretty intense to say the least, but this is offset by the fact that there are plenty of comfort settings available for newer adopters to play around with.
In the video above I played with maximum smooth movement and felt no ill effects. In fact, I quite enjoyed zipping around the arenas, it made a nice change to most other VR games that lock your movement speed to that of a brisk walk. Rather interestingly, Telefrag VR for PSVR also supports the 3D Rudder peripheral - great news, if you're one of the five people in the world who owns one.
Telefrag VR does fast-paced arena action well and to its credit, it does manage to capture the vibe of classic 90s arena shooters. Unfortunately with its limited number of arenas and just one solitary 1v1 game mode, the rest of the package feels incredibly hollow. The seed of a great game is there, but at present it hasn't been allowed to sprout into anything of substance. Perhaps down the road with some patches and content updates, Telefrag VR might offer players a bit more variety, but as it stands games like Space Junkies or Pavlov VR offer much more satisfying multiplayer arena shooter experiences for your VR headsets.