There isn’t a single VR game that I’m aware of that allows you to chop off an enemy’s arm and then beat them and their friends senseless with the appendage. When Killing Floor: Incursion hit the stage touting this very feature, I was sure we had a hit on our hands. Walking arm in fist, I bravely made my way into this disgustingly horrifying world to take on the Zeds in virtual reality, and hoped that I would live to talk about it.
If you’ve never played Killing Floor or its sequel (the aptly titled Killing Floor 2), don’t worry. Incursion does away with numbers to let you know that there are no prerequisites. What it doesn’t do away with is the dumb fun that slaughtering Zeds can bring. The relentless zombie-like mutants provide the perfect cannon fodder to be both terrifying and delightful to shoot, stab, and hack at, either alone or with a friend. And when it happens again, and again, and again, it’s quickly realized that the depth of the gameplay remains a shooting and slicing gallery in a few different environments.
Mindless killing of foul beasties can be quite fun, and for the most part, Killing Floor: Incursion retains an air of entertainment that is undeniable. Interaction in VR happens just like you might expect it to in real life. After pouring rounds of ammunition into Zeds, if one gets too close, simply pistol whip it with the butt of your gun to finish it off. Want to beat them with their own heads, arms, or even that massive sword that’s coming out from between that one guy’s split in half forearm? Those are all totally options, not to mention playing with the working mechanics of an elbow joint tends to be grotesquely entertaining.
The opening of Killing Floor: Incursion goes for a horror vibe, and it managed to get me feeling pretty unsettled. Having the haunting, gaunt-faced Zeds wandering towards me from the darkness of the trees makes it so that nowhere feels safe. An early level sent me through the hallways of a dilapidated haunted house, having me cautiously checking every corner. It’s not long before the horror aspect fell away as I got more and more used to the Zeds. Things went from dark forest to a brightly light Paris office building, and then to the stereotypical bio lab that every one of these types of games tends to end up in.
Breaking up the Zed incursion are a few simply puzzles that I wish the game would have doubled down on. Some brilliant ones require scouring that Paris office building for secret codes to enter on a panel, while others have the player using a special flashlight to discover secrets tucked away in the environments. These moments were enjoyable, but the cadence of mass enemy encounters to puzzles felt off. It was like a light switch getting flipped on and off to toggle between them.
Movement is Killing Floor: Incursion’s biggest limitation. Once again, as happens with too many potentially great VR games, it’s a case of a developer being so keen on comfort that it negatively impacts the gameplay experience. The main teleportation system is the one advertised, and while it works well enough, it also takes a lot away from the game. The fast paced frenetic action is uncercut by the fact that you are basically a super hero that can warp away at will. To combat this (and to account for comfort), Incursion will actually limit the distance you can jump to short bursts if you do it too often too quickly. Particularly during boss encounters, attempting to teleport away, turn, do some damage, and continue to get away while being relentlessly pursued tends to be quite frustrating. It’s less fun and more fighting with design flaws inherent to the platform.
Late in the game, I discovered that there are free movement and smooth turning options buried in the settings. Switching these on allows the movement to work similar to Skyrim VR’s free movement, which I far preferred to the teleportation mechanic (teleportation is actually available in tandem with free movement, so I’m confused why anyone would want it inaccessible when toggled off). I understand the need for comfort to allow a more broad audience to enjoy the experience, though I wish games would have comfort settings as a part of the setup during the tutorial. I have my VR legs, so the fewer comfort restrictions I have placed on me, the better. Given that I had no idea free movement was available until after I had completed the campaign and was playing some Holdout, it looks like teleportation is what’s being pushed as the primary functionality.
No matter which movement mode I was using, I found the guns so cumbersome in the heat of the swarm that I preferred to go for an all-melee approach. Early on it was easy to use pistols, but the swarm tactics of the enemies made it hell when found myself out of bullets and had to reload. I put a knife in my other hand to stave off any creatures that got too close, and soon found that melee was my preferred method of killing. The uselessness of guns becomes particularly apparent in later stages where the swarms get far more aggressive. Though you are given more powerful weaponry to use, guns like the sniper and shotgun are unwieldy to use with two hands while also trying to move around and survive the onslaught.
Attempting to cock the shotgun, aim properly, turn around, and teleport to safe locations to stay alive is cumbersome on the move controllers. More often than not, I would end up with the shotgun held in my off-hand, or I’d simply drop it altogether. A lot of these difficulties are inherent to the PlayStation’s restricted Move controllers, which desperately need analog sticks. Due to this, my tactic most often was to back into a corner, grab a knife, axe, or other sharp object, and flail until every incoming enemy was dead.
A later boss encounter forced me to use a single-shot sniper rifle to take out some Zeds on rooftops, all while dodging fireballs they were throwing and dealing with some other Zeds on the same roof as me. It was one of the final boss encounters, which really soured my experience with the game. Precision aiming using Move controllers and VR tracking hasn’t ever been the easiest of tasks. To take a game that has been primarily “in your face” and turn it into a long range shooting gallery–while putting you under persistent assault from all sides–felt like a cheap tactic to tick a checkbox. Sniping section? Got it. Guy with a chainsaw arm? That’s here. Enormous amorphous creature that makes up the entire final room for a boss battle that isn’t actually a battle but more of a race to flip a few switches and accomplish a specific task that will kill it? Well, I don’t want to spoil things, but you may have played this one before.
Playing with friends (or even random players) is what really allows Killing Floor: Incursion to have legs. The campaign and endless waves of Zeds in the Holdout mode are a lot more fun with another player by your side. Killing Floor has often been described as similar to Left 4 Dead or Call of Duty: Zombies, and the VR title doesn’t disappoint in pitting you and a friend against horrors that want nothing more than to murder you.
Killing Floor: Incursion is perhaps everything you might expect from a first-person zombie shooter in VR. It checks all of the boxes, sometimes to its own detriment. While billed as a shooter, the guns are unwieldy in the most frantic of situations, which will see players bringing a knife to a Zed fight. Incursion isn’t the kind of VR experience that’s a must-play showcase of the best of virtual reality. It sits firmly in the realm of expected fare, armed with a few gimmicks that keep it entertaining. Longevity is maintained through cooperative play with friends and the ability to slap mutant zombies in the face with their friend’s dismembered arm. Despite its problems, that’s not really the type of experience I can say no to.
Killing Floor: Incursion review code provided by the developer. Version 1.03 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.