Developed and published by Vertigo Games, Arizona Sunshine 2 is a brand-new entry in the developer’s VR zombie shooting franchise. VR games are getting better and better and gone are the days when we would think about VR shooters as some low-tier games that only serve as a casual time pass. Arizona Sunshine 2 is a clear example because the level of upgrade from the first game to the second game is a clear indicator of how quickly VR platforms are gaining traction and how much the games are improving when it comes to gameplay, visuals, and overall design. This is our review of Arizona Sunshine 2 on the Meta Quest 2 in which we pop some zombie heads open and pet our dog.
When you boot into the campaign, you will start inside your trailer where you can move around and explore different items around you. You can light up cigarettes and open drawers and cupboards to see what is inside. After using a key and opening the door to head outside, you can try out the shooting tutorial which clearly displays the game’s solid shooting mechanics. From here, you can proceed with the missions and complete the 19-mission-strong campaign of the game. You can set the difficulty of the game from its four available choices but even the ‘Easy’ difficulty has its moments where you will be rushing here and there to survive. You can have another player join in for this campaign, but the entire campaign plays out exactly like that in solo mode. The second player can just drop out of the campaign, and it will not affect the game in any way.
However, accompanying you on your journey will be your trusty sidekick Buddy who is a German Shepherd that you find during a mission and decide to keep it. Buddy is a very useful sidekick both in combat as well as assisting you in different tasks. Buddy can take down smaller enemies and even pin down the bigger ones. He will also give you windows if you run out of ammo and is excellent for thinning out big hordes of zombies. Your character quickly forms a bond with Buddy since he has no one else to talk to in the entire game and having Buddy around also gives you a sense of moving around in a group even if you are playing solo. Thankfully, as Buddy jumps in and out of enemies while you are shooting at them or blasting them with grenades, there is no friendly fire, so it does not block your bullets or hinder gameplay. Rather, it helps you and you soon become dependent on Buddy for a lot of things.
While you would normally expect a VR shooter to go a little easy on you, Arizona Sunshine 2 does not go easy at all. At higher difficulties, it is a nightmare to play because the enemies are relentless, and they are really big in numbers. Arizona Sunshine 2 is not just another mindless zombie shooter because here, you need to conserve your ammo and watch your shots because you have to use both of your hands to reload weapons and manually put in ammo clips. This whole process needs some time to practice and even in the fifth chapter of my first playthrough, I was struggling with reloading my guns often. Dropping your weapons takes them to their respective holsters and your ammo is stored in your ammo belt.
You have to manually pick out ammo clips and reload your weapons. While you can easily find ammo around the maps, picking them from the belts and ensuring correct alignment with the weapon for quickly reloading them takes a little practice. Arizona Sunshine 2 is difficult not because there is no ammo, but it is difficult because of how its gameplay mechanics are designed. You must master reloading your weapons because when an entire herd of zombies is right in your face or chasing after you, you cannot afford to make mistakes. There are some really tense situations in the game and for those moments, you have to be prepared or even try them multiple times to figure out how to clear these levels. Apart from your weapons, you also have throwables like grenades and Molotov cocktails but again, you need to time them perfectly for their effective use.
If you prefer a more face-to-face confrontation, you can stick with different melee weapons as well which deliver a whole new experience to the whole combat. You will find them in the maps and once you have a melee weapon, you can equip it in your desired hand to kill zombies. Similar to most zombie games, melee weapons do not last very long and after a few kills, your melee weapons will break here as well. But while they last, you can nab some really cool kills. Melee weapons can be picked up when you find them in the world similar to ammo but the throwables need to be crafted. There is a rather boring crafting section, and you can only attain throwables by crafting them yourself but once you have them, you can dispose of a large number of zombies at the same time.
The campaign is linear and while you can explore the areas a little bit, there is not much to do in the game once you have cleared the objective and killed all of the enemies. You can explore for your own fun, but the game does not hide any secrets off the beaten path. The exploration might not give much in terms of content, but it is good for players who like to check out small details of the game world. Each level is designed pretty well, and the art style is one of my favorite aspects of Arizona Sunshine 2. Since the game is set in Arizona, the dusty levels feature a lot of different environments such as sewers, open parking lots, offices, houses, shops, official facilities, and much more. You will love exploring these levels and bashing up skulls in them because the visuals are pretty good. The visuals and the art style of the game are just brilliant.
Probably the biggest addition to Arizona Sunshine 2 is its multiplayer aspect. Not only you can play the campaign in co-op mode, but the additional Horde Mode also supports co-op, and you can invite up to three other players in the game to try out the Horde mode with you. In this mode, each player will have their own screen on which they will be shooting away at the undead monstrosities. The Horde mode currently only has one map and I hope that additional maps arrive in the future. If you played the first game, you would instantly recognize this map. It follows the rules of any other title’s Horde modes that you might have played as it starts slow and as you advance to later waves; the enemies grow in number and size. You have to fight with whatever you can find to survive as long as possible.
The campaign is fully playable in co-op, but the real charm of multiplayer comes in the horde mode where you can pick your desired map and team up with other players to take down massive hordes of enemies. The enemies are scaled according to the current number of players in the game to keep the challenge high. Apart from just shooting enemies, the co-op players can help each other out as well by throwing around ammo, and other useful stuff. Bringing in another player does help in certain situations, but the game’s difficulty pretty much remains the same and both of you will notice the challenge equally.
While Arizona Sunshine 2 runs pretty well on Meta Quest 2, it did freeze for me at some random points. The very first freeze actually happened during my very first playthrough and I was inside my trailer at that point so you can assume that it was almost right after I booted into the game. After that, the game ran fine but then froze again after some time. These freezes were not very common, but the game certainly requires more optimization at this point. I also noticed some frame dips here and there, especially during grenade explosions in a lot of enemies, but these were not really game-breaking like complete freezes because I had to quit and restart the game when they happened. There is another weird pause after you are killed during which you can move around and look around but the screen is all red and you cannot figure out what is happening.
While Arizona Sunshine 2 is still miles away from normal PC zombie shooters, it is a massive improvement over the first title in the franchise and is bloody good fun as well. The shooting feels good, and the headshots are specially satisfying. Every time you pop a zombie’s head with a single shot, you will feel it in your entire body. The art style, the gameplay and the overall gameplay combines together to deliver one of the best VR zombies shooting titles. Just make sure not to mess up the controls because that happens a lot when a whole horde is about to land right in your face. If you love VR shooters and are currently looking for a decent zombie shooter, Arizona Sunshine 2 is the perfect title for you to spend your holidays.
Final Score: 8.5