Review – ALVO (Oculus Quest 2)
First person shooters and VR are such a natural fit it’s uncanny. They often provide some of the most immersive experiences you can find in the VR space, and allow you to get closer to weapons and interact with the world in unique ways. Take Resident Evil 4‘s VR port for example; a superbly fun VR version of a great game, but it can be jarring for those who aren’t used to VR. ALVO is an attempt at making a more casual and approachable VR shooter, which is a respectable goal, but doesn’t hit the mark.
Even though I’m new to VR gaming (only a couple months in to be precise), I’ve had a blast. Learning the ropes with games like SUPERHOT whilst games like Resident Evil 4 and Pavlov VR gave more immersive and advanced experiences. What both of these games did very well is let the controls come naturally to the player. Unfortunately, this is one major issue with ALVO and especially within its approach. Nothing comes naturally to the player and it doesn’t make intelligent use of the Quest controllers. Stumbling with the controls is not something I want to waste my time with.
There is no physical place for things, such as magazines or grenades. Reloading is simply a matter of pressing the grip button on your hip, which is also hilariously mapped to the crouch or jump button. You can’t really reload any faster as well, since it’s all a fixed, predetermined animation you have no real control over. Then to throw a grenade you have to move the controller to the right hip, press a button, aim with the opposite hand, and then push forward with the grenade hand. It’s a weird control scheme that doesn’t make sense, but these are all things that you can get used to if you put the time in. It’s just that these controls did not come naturally at all.
Shooting itself is fine and what you’d expect from an arcade shooter in VR. You point and press the trigger to shoot and well that’s exactly what happens. The guns feel fine enough to use, and I ended up going dual SMGs for a run and gun playstyle. As a run and gun shooter, it just plays fine and does what it sets out to do in terms of shooting people.
Then we have the modes and maps, and this is where ALVO really struggles. There’s really nothing here; we have our bog standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch that provide the most enjoyment. You’ve also got the classic Search and Destroy from Call of Duty that has one team trying to plant a bomb and the other defending. As for the maps they are often way too large for what the game is offering yet somehow has terrible spawning and only a small handful with day and night variations. Monastery in particular is a painfully designed map. It’s very light on content, plus both Zombies and Private games are just listed as coming soon on the menu, with no indication of when.
As for the progression, it feels like jumping way back in time. You start with a basic tier UMP-45 and have to level up to unlock more. Even early on this feels unnecessarily grindy, and will put players coming into the game later with a massive disadvantage. That is, if there are enough people to be found inside matches in a few months’ time. In quite a few instances, the game would just give up trying to find a game with players and just drop me into a bot match. Even if I did find a game, it was very rarely full. Neither of the game’s modes were ever able to fill an entire lobby. This will be its ultimate killer, because ALVO had the potential of occasionally being a fun and dumb casual shooter.
As for the sound and graphics, don’t expect anything great here. Sound does nothing special to really pull you in, especially since not much really happens throughout the games. Graphically, some ugly textures and effects just don’t hold up. It’s not so bad it’s unplayable, but I just expect a little bit more in here.
If Pavlov is the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive of the VR market, and Onward is its Insurgency, then ALVO can easily be described as the Modern Combat of the VR market. A game that is not offensively bad, but one that just can’t compete with the other VR shooters. It’s a bare-bones experience in terms of content, with controls that just don’t match up to what we would expect from a VR game in 2022.
Nothing too bad, just an ugly, generic-looking shooter.
Weird controls aside, ALVO doesn’t really do anything innovative or particularly well with its gameplay.
Much like the graphics, nothing will necessarily grab you in the sound department.
Fun Factor: 2.0
Good luck finding a good (and populated) game, and if you do, you’ll still realise that ALVO is leagues behind its competitors in terms of gameplay, features, and fun.
Final Verdict: 3.5
ALVO is available now on PSVR and Oculus Quest 2.
Reviewed on Oculus Quest 2.
A copy of ALVO was provided by the publisher.