PAX South: Killing Floor: Incursion is Better Than the Expected Shooting Gallery

Tripwire Interactive nailed Killing Floor 2. It was an intense experience that never left the player short of horrific creatures to shoot, immolate, explode, etc, with an addictive leveling and loot treadmill that keeps its hooks deep under the player’s skin. This same type of play is ripe for a quickie VR shooting gallery adaptation, which is what I was expecting when I donned the Oculus to play Killing Floor: Incursion. It’s with surprise and joy that I get to report that this title is something altogether different.

While the obvious VR game would be about standing players in an environment with swarms of enemies leaping at the player, Incursion takes a more measured approach. Yes, there are still lots of Zeds to kill, but there is also a heavy emphasis on tension. It should be noted that there was a drone following my co-op partner and myself to give exposition. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hear it over the rush of the show floor and the staggering line of people waiting for a turn.

The demo began with my partner and I on a path in a heavily wooded area. We were both equipped with a pistol, a combat knife sheathed over each should, and a flashlight on our chest. Using the left stick to turn in place and a teleport system to travel, we explored our environment until the Zeds came flooding in. Amidst the chaos, the two of us quickly fell into a pattern of watching each others backs, shooting the Zeds as they came close. That is, until the ammo ran out.

Falling back, we pulled out our blades, hacking the heads off of the encroaching horrors with one hand and embedding the blade in the other with skillful throws. Okay, that last is a slight lie. The fellow in the other Oculus was doing well with tossing the blade. Mine invariably found themselves bouncing on the ground and warping back to my hand. Still, I was able to do some cool tricks with the pistol. On the touch controller, the grip button must be held to keep the weapon in hand. Letting go allowed me to toss the weapon in the air, catch it, and pull off a headshot.

Once this area was clear, when found our way to a dilapidated house. The paint was peeling, the wood rotted, and a peak inside shows that the residence has been vacated for years. More Zeds found us, of course, and we fought them off. This sequence managed to prove that the character designs taken from Killing Floor 2 are much more horrifying in virtual reality. When an oily, multi-limbed crawler leapt on the porch of the home, my partner screamed “What the hell is that?” A couple of panicked shots rendered it so much meat suitable for prison or Taco Bell.

From there, were explored the home. There was a wall with chunks missing, and we needed to complete it to progress. In order to actually see the puzzle pieces, we had to make use of the ultraviolet light of our flashlights. Thus, with light in one hand and weapon in the other, we searched the home high and low. As the items were found, we carried them down and slotted them into place. Being slower paced allowed room for the tension to really breath. The front door to the home couldn’t be shut, and Zeds would occasionally get in. These things can be ninja when they want to be, as there was more than one time that I turned around to find a husk about to take a mouthful out of my face. Sadly, the demo ended once the puzzle was complete.

Using a mixture of classic Killing Floor ultra violence with sequences of light adventuring makes Incursion one of the best looking and playing VR games on the horizon. Unfortunately, it is slightly hampered by the hardware. Oculus players might not have this issue, as they are used to the Touch hardware, but I have grown used to the Vive’s style of room scale. Too many times, I tried to physically turn around instead of using the stick, and the pleasant booth attendant had to remind me of the limitation of the Oculus Touch’s front facing cameras. This issue is not Tripwire’s fault, of course, but it should be noted. Lamentably, the developer hasn’t announced a Vive version. Considering that this was the wording I was given, hope should not be abandoned.

Hardware limitations aside, there’s something special about Killing Floor: Incursion. Being as it’s a VR title that focuses on making the player feel empowered one moment and seconds from filling their pants the next, Tripwire is on track release an impeccably designed experience. It’s commendable that the developer isn’t putting together yet another gallery shooter, which would be successful enough. Even cooler, more of the backstory to the post-apocalyptic world is looking to be fleshed out. Just please, release it on Vive.