Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot preview

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot is a new virtual reality spin-off from MachineGames and Bethesda’s recent Wolfenstein reboot series, placing you in the shoes of an ‘80s resistance hacker with the ability to take control of Nazi war machines and turn them against their masters.

In short, that means you really get to play as a variety of different Nazi robots as you tear through environments and slaughter other Nazis, with all the immersion the HTC Vive can provide. We tried it out for ourselves at Gamescom on a Vive Pro, and here’s what we think.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot: Price and availability

Cyberpilot is so far only set for a release some time in 2019, and we don’t know much more than that. We know it’s coming to HTC Vive and Vive Pro, but other platforms - namely Oculus and PlayStation VR - are yet to be confirmed.

Naturally that means pricing is up in the air, and with the sheer variety of prices we’ve seen for other big VR games, it’s hard to make a good guess.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot: Preview

The modern Wolfenstein games have toed a delicate line between schlocky B-movie sensibilities and attempts to tackle the weightier moral and emotional crises that any Nazi story necessarily provokes.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, on the other hand, looks to more firmly come down on one side of that line. This is a game about killing Nazis, pure and simple, clearly hoping that widescale destruction and the novelty of VR will carry players through.

The game leaps 20 years on from the events of Wolfenstein 2, and apparently the Nazis are still in power (which doesn’t exactly bode well for your hopes of winning in the expected third game). That time jump is mostly an excuse to justify the narrative hook that you’re a hacker, able to remotely take control of the Nazis’ many and varied war machines.

In our demo, that meant the Panzerhund - essentially a giant, fire-breathing tank dog. Using the regular Vive Pro controllers, the right trigger fired a flamethrower mouth, the left initiated a ram attack, and a combo of motion controls on the right controller and the touch pad on the left were used for movement and turning.

Simple controls for a simple game then, as this is pure arcadey fun. From what we saw there’s not much narrative, minimal exploration, and it’s not even especially tough. You basically just move forward, splattering and burning baddies, with larger groups and new enemy types popping up as the demo goes on.

There’s nothing here so far that won’t be familiar to anyone who’s played the two main games or their DLC. Every enemy type - regular troopers, Super Soldaten, even a giant mech - has been lifted from the main series, and even streets of ‘80s Paris look surprisingly familiar to those of ‘60s Berlin from Wolfenstein: The New Order.

That’s in part because the ‘80s setting is a bit under-used. MachineGames may well be planning to add fascist synth pop and neon tanks, but right now the game doesn’t make the most of the time jump - and series fans will no doubt be annoyed that Nazi tech apparently hasn’t advanced one bit in 20 years.

SHOULD I BUY WOLFENSTEIN: CYBERPILOT?

Still, this demo is very early days for the game, and the devs have a lot of time to expand on the setting, ramp up the style, and hopefully diversify the combat a little.

Until then, this looks like the sort of dumb empty-headed fun that The New Order first appeared to be - before revealing itself to be so much more. Let’s hope MachineGames is just trying to pull the same trick twice.