Driving around in a tank and blowing up everything in sight is great fun. Thankfully, Battlezone Gold Edition brings the goods with its addictive roguelike structure and super-tight gameplay so strap in and let's battle some AI.
Battlezone Gold Edition is an enhanced version of the 2016 VR exclusive that can now be played without a VR headset. That being said, if you own PlayStation VR then playing it in virtual reality is certainly the way to go as I played it in VR and had an absolute blast. The fact that you can look around your cockpit and observe the battlefield by simply rotating your head is so awesome. It's definitely one of the most engaging VR games that I've ever played. I played without VR support to take these screenshots and gameplay video and it's not nearly as enjoyable. Anyway, for the unfamiliar, Battlezone is loosely based on the 1980 Atari arcade classic and was developed after Rebellion bought the rights to the franchise from Atari. The story revolves around a rogue artificial intelligence and it's your job to shut down its source so its armies will in turn fall. But, who cares about the story? Let's discuss the gameplay.
Basically, you pilot a tank in a first-person perspective where the left stick controls your movement and the right stick rotates the tank and aims up and down. The 2 right shoulder buttons shoot and reload while the left ones unleash a special ability and engage turbo mode which gives you a substantial speed boost. You can also cycle through your equipped weapons and there are a ton of them to uncover. Some are best used against flying enemies while others are better against heavy tanks or far away foes. You can run out of ammo, too, if you're not careful so you'll find yourself constantly switching up your weaponry. The variety of enemies and weapons combine with the tight controls to make a challenging and satisfying gameplay dynamic that'll keep you on the edge of your seat.
Believe it or not, Battlezone's campaign is actually structured as a roguelike. I must admit, this made me skeptical at first. However, after playing through, I can safely say that it's one of the best implemented roguelike structures that I've ever seen. You progress by selecting nodes on a map then take care of whatever that node entails whether it's a mission or simply a shop. The missions come in all sorts of varieties and you'll find yourself defending bases, dealing with waves of enemies, and destroying massive enemy structures. Meanwhile, the AI gets stronger the more time you spend trying to reach it. In fact, a super-powerful foe known as a Nemesis might spawn if you take too long. Anyway, certain missions will weaken the AI. The most effective way to do this is by taking out Shield Generators which is downright exciting stuff. Once you finally reach the Volcano and take out the AI Core, the sense of satisfaction is unmatched.
As you play, you'll acquire Data which acts as currency. You can use it to purchase new weapons at shops (which is the smartest thing to buy), more lives if you need them, and upgrades that enhance aspects like your shields. You'll also unlock new weapon types as well as cosmetic items upon accomplishing certain feats. There's so much variety and each playthrough is a fresh experience, especially if you experiment with different tanks and weapons. On the other hand, some missions start to feel a bit repetitive. Considering the campaign is randomly generated, you might sometimes play a similar mission twice in a row which is pretty annoying. Also, I wish there was a non-roguelike mode that took the randomness factor out such as a list of challenges but there is no such content available. You can play a reinterpretation of the arcade classic but it's very simple and doesn't have much replay value unless you love climbing leaderboards.
Last but not least, I should mention that there's an online multiplayer component which is intuitively implemented as you can jump in and out of matches with ease. Most surprisingly, everyone I met while playing online was actually nice which is more than I can say about most communities. No one swore and I had a chill and enjoyable time playing online with people.
Battlezone Gold Edition is not only the best PlayStation VR game that I've ever played; it's also one of the best roguelikes. Rebellion definitely knows what they're doing and I can't wait to see what they come up with next.
- + Tight and satisfying gameplay with campaigns that are thrilling to master
- + Although optional, VR support is amazing
- + Loads of variety and rewarding unlockables
- - Even though it's great fun, I wish there was a non-roguelike mode
- - Some missions get kind of repetitive