Review – Pavlov (PSVR2)
Thanks to the PS VR in 2018, Firewall Zero Hour was my jam. I’d put on the headset, start or jump into a lobby and wait an hour (if you know, you know), pick up my AIM controller, and enjoy 4v4 fast action fps goodness. The concept was simple: you attack, or you defend. The controls were simple: aim, trigger to shoot, button to aim and toss a grenade, and D-pad to switch weapons. In contrast, 2017’s Pavlov is a tactile FPS, with a heavy focus on realism and simulation.
Pavlov’s simulator mechanics can feel overwhelming at first. The minute I started the tutorial, it was: grab my primary weapon, grab clip, load clip, load chamber, and grip weapon. Then it was quickly: drop weapon, grab grenade, pull pin, burn, throw grenade. Toss in getting on coms, opening your watch menu, setting and deactivating explosives, and the actions needed to play the game can feel intense. Just put all that out of your head though, because of these two things: first, it won’t matter because your first game, you will be LOST. Second, after a handful more games, all these interactions will quickly become learned behavior.
Let’s quickly address the possible elephant in the room, the AIM controller. It shouldn’t shock anyone, but in case people were wondering, there is no AIM support or AIM-like alternative. Just like with its PCVR counterpart, the game is played with dual-hand VR controllers. In Pavlov’s case, this is more welcome than missed. Aiming down the sights can be twitchy, but because of manually loading and reloading, the majority of Pavlov requires free hand movement. An AIM controller would make no sense.
Your most common game modes will be Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Obviously, like any other shooter featuring these two modes, it’s either every man for himself or working together in teams. While custom mods and dedicated servers didn’t make the trek over from PCVR, the team at Vankrupt Games did transplant a good amount of additional game modes:
- WWII – A fun way to change up Deathmatch play.
- Zombies – An entertaining horde mode experience for you or your group.
- Gun Game – Start with a single weapon, and to get more, you’ll need to take an opponent’s weapon.
- Prop Hunt – A unique mod where one team disguises themselves as normal furniture and objects, while the other team hunts them down.
- Search & Destroy – Fight your way to a bomb, and with time ticking away, you’ll need to disarm it.
- Hide – A predator game mode where one of you is a monster that hides from everyone else, picking and choosing when to strike and take them out little by little.
- TTT – An Among Us type mode where a couple of you are traitors, and you need to take out the squad before they realize who the traitors are.
- Shooting Range – Allows you to get acquainted with over sixty-five unique weapon choices and should not be taken for granted.
Pavlov looks nice and much better than its 2017 PCVR alternative. Hi-fidelity environments are detailed, 120fps is fluid, and characters respond wonderfully to your body movements. Weapons offer realistic designs and operating mechanics, even down to how they each get reloaded, which can have a very real result in certain game modes, like Gun Game. Sitting down to crouch, shooting around corners, lowering your weapon to sprint, all add a visual sense of realism that keeps you in the fight.
Gunplay and firefights do sound impressive. PS VR2 rumble allows for slight bullet recognition that pairs nicely with the audio, but does quickly become unnoticeable. Listening for footsteps, and direction and distance of gunfire, is key. On those rare occasions you find yourself in a child-free lobby, you will want to mic up. The community has been fun and open. Getting in with a squad of mutuals, using your coms to communicate, or just bs’ing during engaging matches of TTT or Hide (they can get hysterical) adds so much to an experience.
Pavlov did induce some of the more severe motion sickness I have had in PS VR2, to date. I would have to step away in between matches. Sometimes, I even had to exit the game entirely. Some levels hit more than others. There are in-game settings to help curb this, such as blurring perimeter field of view, and using degrees of turning, rather than free motion.
A surprise inclusion into PS VR2’s launch lineup, along with Firewall Ultra’s unfortunate exclusion from, Pavlov is the de facto title to grab if you are looking for a true multiplayer FPS on PS VR2. Even if it weren’t, Pavlov stands on its own two feet, as a highly competent entry (or re-entry) for anyone looking for a competitive shooter experience. If you were wanting and quick paced arcade shooter, Pavlov might feel like a baptism by fire, but it quickly translates for fans of both simulation and arcade.
Still not “from the ground up” PS VR2 quality, but much cleaner than Oculus Quest. Highly detailed environments and characters.
Launching with a fully fleshed out suite of game modes, all but guarantee’s there is at least a couple modes you can’t wait to jump into. At its best, with a group that communicates.
Bullets and gun fire sound great. You learn to pay close attention to direction and distance of battles.
Fun Factor: 8.0
Fast matches, fast lobbies, and fast action means you are always in the fight. Gun familiarity, or lack of, can get frustrating.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Pavlov is available now on PS VR2, Meta Quest 2, and Compatible Steam VR Headsets.
Reviewed on PS VR2.
A copy of Pavlov was provided by the publisher.