Developer / Publisher – Respawn / Electronic Arts
Price – US $39.99 / CAN $49.99 / EU €39.99 / UK £33.99 / AU $58.95
Release Date – November 15th, 2021
Input – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated
Store – Oculus
Reviewed on – Quest 2
I am still in shock that one of the biggest VR games released exclusively for PC headsets has somehow made its way to the Quest 2. The entire game has been ported to the stand-alone headset so let’s get too it as there is a lot to get to. For those interested, you can find my original review here.
Unsurprisingly, Medal of Honor’s core shooter gameplay is like most VR FPS titles but opts for a mix between casual and simulation gunplay. A tutorial mission breaks down all the gameplay elements with combat being at the forefront of it all. On your hips are your pistol and ammo supply with your larger rifles being strapped over each shoulder for easy access. Any ammo picked up is automatically placed in your ammo pouch, which will always have whatever ammo you need with the gun in hand. Reloading will require you to expend your ammo and possibly eject a clip, grabbing at your side for the next rounds, placing them in the gun and cocking back a slide or pulling on a handle to load it. It’s a system that works very well and I almost never ran into any issues when I needed a quick reload. Comfort wise, you can smooth or click turn with optional blinders as well and while you can play this sitting, standing is clearly the way this was meant to be played as there is no duck button and many situations will have you exposed to enemy fire unless you crouch in real life. Knives are available to be thrown with some auto aim involved to ensure you hit your target some of the time, though I rarely used this as I almost always had a gun handy. Grenades are strapped to your chest and can be grabbed at any time, armed by twisting off caps or pulling the pin (with your teeth if you want!) and tossed with some decent accuracy as well. Sniper rifle scope options can be toggled to take up your whole screen or generated within the scope only, with larger weapons requiring similar loading mechanics to standard guns. Beyond those mechanics are context sensitive sections of the game that will allow you climb ladders and other parts of the environment, use mounted weapons, ski (seriously!) and even drop bombs from a plane which sometimes mixes up the action quite nicely.
The campaign takes you through 6 missions all over Europe, each broken up in small sections and further broken up by checkpoints. A live fire gauntlet is available with each stage and requires you to run explosives to a designated area and then run back to blow them up, all while fending off a barrage of enemies. On the multiplayer side you face off against up to 11 other players in a variety of maps ripped right from the campaign. Standard options like Death Match, Team Deathmatch and capture the flag are in here as are a few additional modes like having to arm and disarm explosives while on a team or a King of the Hill type game that can be played alone or on teams. You can pick your avatar and loadout but after that, there isn’t much else to do, making it feel more tacked on than anything trying to grab your attention for the foreseeable future. Should the human player base be absent, bots are put in who do an ok job at providing competition, though you’ll still kill them plenty more time than they will kill you. Survival mode pit you against more challenging waves of enemy soldiers and gets very hard, very fast, offering up a ton of challenge, but only contains local leaderboards so you are just competing with you’re your previous efforts. Lastly would be the Gallery mode, which allows you to watch WW2 veterans talk about their experiences in new interviews which are spliced in with historical footage and are an absolute treat for those looking to pull some knowledge about that infamous era.
Alright, so how does Above & Beyond look on the Quest 2 given the very high recommended requirements to run it on the PC side of things? Surprisingly good I’d say , though that may not be initially apparent as much of the characters look slightly cartoonish with the game looking more like a AAA title from the PS3 era of gaming. Comparing this to the PC version is unfair as if that version didn’t exist, I would say I was nothing short of impressed by just how much game is packed in here. Lighting effects, character models and the environments have all been scaled back for the standalone headset and environments can look a little barren at times thanks to the lacking number of assets and texture quality on display, which for the Quest 2 is still impressive. Every set piece from the PC version has been translated here in their entirety (with the limitations I mentioned above) making for what is easily the biggest game on the Quest 2 in regards to the shear amount places you’ll visit, enemies you’ll face and stuff you do. It should be noted that the Quest 2 version has a few graphical settings to mess around with including screen resolution and anti aliasing options though maxing these out will have an impact on the performance causing some minor stuttering, frame drops and additional pop-in. It might not look like the best game you have ever seen, but what it lacks in quality, it makes up for in quantity and in truth, is impressive considering the platform.
I can, and will, complain about a few items of contention in MoH, but I can’t complain about the audio presentation which uses some of the best 3D audio and effects I have heard in recent memory. Hearkening back to the games roots and histories is a patriotic wartime soundtrack populated heavily by drums and trumpets that placed me in this era. Sound effects are all on point as is the voice acting though there is some dialogue and delivery that borders on being cheesy more than inspiring, but that’s just being nitpicky. Every mission opens up with a briefing before you are set into action, typically with an OSS ally nearby who will guide and aid your efforts. Hearing (and seeing) a tank burst through bushes in front of you, or just taking cover as a flurry of bullets impact all around you is harrowing and those seminal moments are some of the best I have had in recent memory.
With the campaign remaining intact and benefiting from the PC’s very rocky launch, many of the issues that plagued the PC version have since been remedied in both that and the Quest 2 version of the game. Pacing is still an issue with some sections loading into cut-scene after cut-scene before letting you play for 5 minutes and than jumping into yet another cut-scene but that really is the worst of it in regard to the campaign. The multiplayer has also not changed at all making for an initially impressive affair that lacks any depth. There is no progression system, skins are all unlocked if you have played through the campaign and all the weapons are available for everyone, which makes for a very even playing field, but feels lacking, nonetheless. It’s fun to mess around for an hour or so, but the only reason to return is because you enjoy that gameplay a lot and I don’t think that will be enough to take peoples attention away from other games like Pavlov or Onward. I wouldn’t buy this for the multiplayer, but with the extensive campaign already included, it feels like a nice bonus, but not much more than that.
Medal of Honor: Above & Beyond is a tour de force for the Quest 2 and highlights just how much game you can pack into the Quest 2 It has some absolutely stunning moments (even with the graphical downgrades) that highlight just how far stand alone consumer VR has come in only a few years. Despite the erratic nature of the campaign, I had a lot of fun killing the Nazi scum in some fantastic recreations from the WW2 era and even enjoyed some multiplayer matches when then servers were populated with people. It’s an epic cinematic adventure and I hope to see a follow up of some type from Respawn as they delivered a solid VR title whether you play on PC or the Quest 2 headset.
What would I pay? This is $40 US and I say that’s worth it for what’s offered up here. The PC version is still the way to go if you have the option but factoring in untethered freedom and the fact that the gameplay remains intact, it’s easy to recommend this Quest 2 owners.
Oculus Studios provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!