Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot Review - Falling Short

  • First Released Jul 25, 2019
  • PS4

A boring bucket of bolts.

With MachineGames at the helm, Wolfenstein has enjoyed a resurgence during the last couple of years. Wolfenstein has managed to captivate with its strong characters and intriguing world-building, giving you a glimpse into an alternate future where the rules are rewritten and whole new terrifying possibilities are waiting to be explored. None of this is present in the series' first venture into VR, however. Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot isn't just lacking the elements that make its universe intriguing, but it's also dated by recent VR standards, with flat, unexciting action and little reason to return after one short playthrough.

Set in 1980s, Cyberpilot puts you in the shoes of a pilot working for the French Resistance at the same time as the events in Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Your piloting skills are alluring to two French hackers who have managed to smuggle away a few Nazi war machines, giving you the chance to aim these monstrosities back at their creators. If you've ever cursed at being mauled by a Panzerhund, Cyberpilot initially seems like a great opportunity to flip the script.

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It doesn't take long for that feeling to fade, though. Three of Cyberpilot's four missions give you control of a new machine to pilot. The Panzerhund lets you dash towards enemies before melting them down with a mouth-mounted flamethrower, a small airborne drone makes sneaking around a Nazi bunker simple, and the more straightforward Zitadelle arms you with a high-powered machine gun and rocket launchers. Despite these varied abilities, Cyberpilot doesn't provide interesting challenges for you to test them against. Each mission is linear and frustratingly one-note. You keep moving forward through cramped and visually bland spaces, mowing down enemies in your way and occasionally taking a breather to heal up before the next encounter. The drone mission at least tries to shake things up by pivoting from all-out action to stealthy engagements, but the unresponsive AI and cramped level design don't allow you the satisfaction of a well-planned stealth kill.

Since you're using machines armed with flamethrowers and unlimited rockets, combat should presumably be explosive and adrenaline-pumping. But Cyperpilot gives so little feedback to your actions that it's difficult to feel their impact at all. Enemies, for example, make no sounds when engulfed in flames or blown back by nearby explosions, and they almost always use the same animations when dying before disappearing from sight. The devastating weapons at your disposal offer no satisfying animations and subsequent sound effects that give them a real kick, which makes action feel limp and uninteresting.

In between each mission, you can explore a multi-floored resistance bunker, using a lift to transition from a spacious loading bay to a dimly lit reception area adorned in abandoned Nazi regalia. These spaces look great and do a good job of reminding you of the imposing grip your enemies still have on European soil. Although this bleeds into the handful of missions you're sent on, Cyberpilot doesn't offer anything new or interesting to say about this alternative perspective on the resistance. The only other characters are your resistance handlers, who occasionally engage in some quirky banter between each other, but outside of that you're nothing but a tool to them, and you disappointingly get no new insights into Wolfenstein's world as a result.

These brief interludes between missions also introduce you to each new pilotable machine in intimate fashion. Before being able to remotely control them, you need to hack your way past their security, which Cyberpilot makes out to be far more complicated than it really is. While you're being fed descriptions of intricate wiring and defensive subroutines, all you are doing is using motion controls to remove a chip from the machine in question, plugging it into a nearby monitor, and then replacing it after a brief pause. Getting to see the details of each chillingly monstrous Nazi machine up close, in VR, without fearing death is surprisingly fascinating, but there's not much else to do during these sequences. That makes each of these forced interludes feel drawn out and unnecessary.

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Cyberpilot can be played with either the PlayStation Move controllers or a DualShock 4, and neither is great. With a DualShock 4, combat feels more familiar. You use the thumbsticks to freely move around and rotate (either smoothly or in adjustable segments) while using motion control to aim. In this configuration, your two hands move as one, which makes activities outside of combat a chore. The PlayStation camera can only track the front-facing light from the DualShock 4, so reaching for objects on either side of you is borderline impossible in some cases.

Using the Move controllers changes that immediately, and also gives you more freedom in combat. Moving your arms independently from one another lets you bash on your special attack button and heal at the same time, which is impossible to do when you're tethered together by a seemingly invisible set of handcuffs. As a tradeoff, movement is trickier using the Move controllers. Rotation is mapped to face buttons while lateral movement is controlled using the big, mushy PlayStation button on the face of the controller. It's far less ideal than the DualShock 4, leaving you with a decision to make between the lesser of two evils.

There's no reason to jump into Cyberpilot if you're looking for another avenue to explore more of Wolfenstein's world.

You won't have too much time to adjust, either, given that Cyberpilot's four missions can easily be finished in less than 90 minutes. Beyond reaching its flat ending, there's nothing else to do to make what time you do have more engaging. There are no collectibles to find, alternative mission routes to explore, or exciting mission set pieces to replay for the thrill of it. It gives Cyberpilot a distinct tech demo feeling; since VR games have become increasingly more adept at using the hardware in unique ways, Cyberpilot feels outdated by comparison.

There's no reason to jump into Cyberpilot if you're looking for another avenue to explore more of Wolfenstein's world. This straightforward shooter lacks the punch to make its action exhilarating and breaks up combat with even more repetitive and slower-paced interludes where you'll do the bare minimum with motion controls to achieve simple and mundane repair tasks. Beyond looking striking for a VR game in some places, there's nothing about Cyberpilot that warrants your time.

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The Good
Visually impressive in some areas, with some intricately detailed models to look at
The Bad
Non-existent feedback makes combat lifeless and unsatisfying
Levels don't challenge your unique abilities and varied weapons in engaging ways
Needlessly long and repetitive machine hacking sessions between missions are a slog
Story doesn't add to the Wolfenstein mythos and ends on a flat, unexciting note
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alessandro finished Cyberpilot in one 90-minute sitting. He attempted to play some stages again to find something new, but came away as disappointed as he was the first time around. Review code was provided by Bethesda.
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Avatar image for Terrorantula

I think the last Bethesda game I liked was Oblivion, even that had flaws.

Avatar image for Ultramarinus

@Terrorantula: Bethesda doesn't make these games. Publisher =/= creator.

Avatar image for Mogan

@Terrorantula: You didn't like Doom 2016?

Avatar image for NaturallyEvil

@Mogan: I liked it overall, but it would have been much better if it wasn't full of enclosed battles that restrict your play style.

If you were one of those people who played the old ones like a psychopath who sprints from room to room, shooting everything in the face point blank, then Doom 2016 is the natural evolution of that.

If you were one of the people who played it more like a dungeon crawler, too bad, you're playing it the other way.

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies

@Mogan: The contemporary core is too exploitative and over reliant on discrete context sensitive digital interactions. The uninspired presentation and weak level design don't do it any favors. To be honest, I'm surprised anyone liked it, Mogan. 🤷‍♂️

Avatar image for dashaka

@Mogan: yeah doom 2016 was amazing.

Avatar image for Terrorantula

@Mogan: I played a couple hours of it, I was bored, I thought Doom 3 was better.

Avatar image for asnakeneverdies

@Terrorantula: I've always liked Id Software, even if I never managed to care for their games. That said, Doom 3 is the one I enjoyed the most, Terrorantula. 🕸🕷

Avatar image for PernicioEnigma

@asnakeneverdies: For me Doom 3 is my favorite Doom game. I understand why it's the black sheep of the Doom franchise, it being a departure from the typical formula, but the slower paced combat and horror elements are to my liking, and the graphics were mind blowing for its time and still hold up quite well.

Avatar image for Mogan

@Terrorantula: *Shakes head sadly*

Avatar image for i_p_daily

When will devs wise up and finally realise that VR should be left as training tools to do things like mock operations etc, for gaming its mostly useless, a gimmick you could say.

Avatar image for justthetip

@i_p_daily: I completely disagree. Play Blood & Truth. Resident Evil 7 VR & Moss are also awesome. Like anything else, tapping VR’s potential will take a while, but it’s showing a ton of promise already.

Avatar image for i_p_daily

@justthetip: And I disagree with you, as the device is pricey (the cost of the PS4) and most games don't even last 10hrs.

Most devs make games and add a VR update later, and Sony doesn't even give it their full support as its biggest dev (Naughty Dog) doesn't support it.

Sorry but its niche and will stay that way for a long time that's if it stays around long enough.

If you enjoy it then more power to you but most people see it as a gimmick.

Avatar image for lukemo

@i_p_daily: It's only a few years old... it's not a gimmik and it's not going away. You're completely ignoring all the PC support VR gets (Oculus Rift/Quest/Go, Vive) and Sony has already confirmed PSVR2 for PS5.

Have you played Thumper in VR? Beat Saber? Tetris Effect? Resident Evil 7? Farpoint? Astro Bots? Moss? Superhot? Rez Infinite? Dirt Rally? Rush of Blood? Wipeout Omege? Doom VFR? Borderlands 2? Skyrim?

All of those games are reason enough to own a PSVR and most can be played much longer than 10 hours. Who cares if some of them are VR "updates"? They're still kick ass.

Go ahead and sit back with your arms folded and knock on it because you don't have it. Meanwhile, I'll be playing No Mans Sky VR and loving every second of it.

Avatar image for hosedandhappy

@i_p_daily: Don't hate something just because you can't afford it. Saying it's useless for gaming is absurd.

Sure, it's a niche product, but it's well worth it if you can afford and offers some amazing gaming experiences.

Saying everything is under 10 hours isn't a negative thing. Most games over 10 hours are bloated or repetitive anyway.

Avatar image for i_p_daily

@hosedandhappy: Can't afford it lol, is that the best insult you can come up with?

I also love the excuse about the length of 10hrs, Anything under 10hrs isn't worth more than 10 bucks.

Enjoy your niche product, but trying to insult the people who disagree with you is childish as you seem hosed but unhappy :(

Avatar image for zmanbarzel

@i_p_daily: After recently replaying "Tetris Effect" and "Resident Evil 7," I'm going to have to disagree. When used wisely, VR can really amplify the immersion.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1

@zmanbarzel: Those are the two games that really make me wish I had a VR headset.

Avatar image for cetaepsilon

16x the details

Avatar image for justthetip

This game looked terrible. I’m amazed it got as much marketing as it did. There was never any point where I felt like I wanted this.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot More Info

  • First Released Jul 25, 2019
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    Average Rating1 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Published by:
    Bethesda Softworks
    Action, VR, 3D, First-Person, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence