Developer / Publisher – StatusPRO
Price – US $29.99 / CAN 34.99 / EU €29.99 / UK £25.99
Release Date – October 16th, 2023
Input – 2 x Touch Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing
Store Links – PlayStation
Reviewed on – PSVR 2
Alright, you can check out my full review for NFL Pro Era here, but to sum it up, I felt it was a somewhat janky QB sim that delivered a bare bones football experience and while serviceable, I found it to be too repetitive and lacking too much in the presentation department. PSVR 2 owners were also treated to a broken game regarding the use of eye tracking, which prevented proper throws and had to be disabled to enjoy the game. Pro Era 2 hasn’t changed a lot in, really, any department as outside of the new opening and locker room, I was hard pressed to notice any real significant differences between either game minus some very minor additions and the new multiplayer modes.
You start off during the new intro, which is actually pretty cool, walking through a tunnel while highlight clips from NFL games play all around you. I was admittedly impressed by this little intro as it seemed to show a leap in presentation. Sadly, that’s just about the extent of improvement as I was placed immediately into the tutorial which was nearly identical to the 1st games, taking me though a few plays before sending me to the locker room. Said locker room has now been redesigned and you can walk around to the various stations which allow you to start your next game, view stats and settings, play a few of the arcade mini-games or start a multiplayer matchup. In my time with the game, I couldn’t find a single player online and I tried on different days at different times to no avail so I couldn’t review the multiplayer stuff personally, but in doing some YouTube surfing, it’s the same game meaning that when you don’t have possession, you are relegated to the sidelines and must watch the plays unfold without anything else to do besides talk to your opponent.
So little has changed between the first and second game that jumping into a season felt identical to the last game except in this I noticed plenty more issues than in the 1st game. When your team is in possession, you can choose your plays and while I did disable and enable eye-tracking, it appears that feature has been removed from the PSVR 2 version, which I guess is fine as the passing, for the most part worked by just using head tracking. I say for the most part because on more than a few occasions, my throws would still fail or a quick toss would turn into a huge lob, and I quickly realized that whenever that high lob happened, that ball was about to be intercepted…which it was…every time. When on the sidelines you can choose to skip the action, so you are back in possession, but you need to constantly toggle that option from on to off and on again on your wrist to skip these plays which just wastes too much time. These are just a few of my many minor annoyances, but it’s all those hiccups that impact the game in a very negative way.
It’s clear the game hasn’t been optimized for the PSVR 2 headset as player pop-in is rampant with players changing size and numbers in a huddle or while on the sidelines. Player animations can look great thanks motion capture but suffer from a limited number of animations and players repeating the same ones in tandem as teams move across the field in the exact same motion, almost like a flock of geese. Factor in that each player uses the exact same face model, just with a change in skin tone and it’s easy to see the holes in the presentation quickly. Quite often I would pass to an “open” player only to have an opposing player literally walk right through my receiver an intercept the ball and during post play sections I saw players run into the stands, walk through each other, freeze in place and generally behave like they were in a broken game, not a sports sim. Player frame rates also dropped quite often, and it felt like the game was struggling to keep track of every human on the field. I enjoyed the look of the various stadiums as they felt authentic and I even liked the carboard cutout crowd, which up close doesn’t look amazing, but is animated enough to look decent when on the field. Unfortunately, the replay screens from the 1st game have been removed completely from Pro Era 2 and now only display the games stats or a quick animation for ‘touchdown’ or ‘interception’ and stuff like that. It’s not terrible looking, but considering it has the NFL license attached to this and this is the 2nd game in series, it’s disappointing to see so little improvement from the 1st game.
Gone is the licenses soundtrack from the 1st game and in place is some generic sounding background music which is honestly just fine considering how little time I was in my locker room, besides when I was trying to find a multiplayer match. Beyond that is the exact same audio package from last year with your coach listing plays during a huddle and occasionally offering up something a little random after a play. Announcers will just say stuff like “interception” or “pass incomplete” with the action of the field sounding more authentic thanks to some light chatter from players as well as grunts and groans when teams collide. It’s all fine I guess, but nothing to get too excited over.
If you have played the 1st Pro Era, you’ve played this, with so little changing between versions that I question why this even exists. Sure, you get an updated NFL roster, but I don’t think players have any stats so that’s cosmetic at best. It doesn’t seem like anyone is playing this so if you are buying this play with others, you won’t, leaving you with some broken mini-games and an overall janky NFL QB experience. I did mention that there are some throwing mini games you can play, just like in the 1st game, but in my many attempts the throwing appeared to be busted on the PSVR 2 and I never once scored a single point in any of them as my ball constantly fell short. Even as I finish putting this review together, I keep remembering more things that are wrong with it than right and while many of my more minor issues could be fixed, it’s questionable if they ever will as the 1st game never received the updates on PSVR 2 that it did on other platforms. Even a few weeks after launch, updates are rolling out for Quest with PSVR 2 ones “coming soon” with no actual ETA. This leaves PSVR 2 players with a repetitive, barebones, janky and even broken Football game that feels more like a step sideways than anything resembling an improved sequel. Unless you are dying for an NFL game in VR, I would stay far away from this until the developers actually update the PSVR 2 version, and even if they do, it’s still overpriced for what is essentially the same game as last year made even worse.