Everyone has imagined what they would do if a zombie apocalypse were to occur once or twice. What choices would we make? How would we combat the undead? Is there room to bring our dog? Well, PlayStation VR2 adventure-shooter Arizona Sunshine 2 answers these questions and more with over-the-top wit.
This upcoming sequel by Vertigo Games ups the ante set in the original by giving players more freedom, immersion, and a canine companion who is set to steal the show and players’ hearts. All these elements take advantage of PS VR2’s advanced haptics, 3D audio capabilities, and eye-tracking technology to bring the zombie experience to life.
We spoke with Trevor Blom, technical director at Vertigo Games, and learned the extent of PS VR2’s immersive enhancements, the importance of Buddy the dog’s role in the game, and more.
Can you pet Buddy the dog, and how does it feel?
Blom: [Interacting with] Buddy is a game in itself. The amount of effort that went into creating the dog was insane. It was huge. And he was a core part of this installment of the game from the start.
[We took a lot of care in enhancing haptics and on guns and interactions] so we also wanted to do it on Buddy. If you if you pet Buddy, give him a ball, or you throw an item with him to play fetch, you will notice those haptics are improved from what you’re used to.
We wanted it to feel like you obtained a [reward] for petting him or playing with him, and we can do that with the new high and low-frequency curves we can achieve with the PS VR2’s haptics. Whereas, if you’re just giving him a ball, you feel this low rumble. But then Buddy gets happy, then the rumble increases until the climax of the rumble. It’s the same with petting, which changes depending on where and the distance you pet him. Thanks to what we can do with rumble now, it just feels much better.
How is the eye-tracking technology used in Arizona Sunshine 2?
There’s this feature where you have to look at a certain object or area, and then the protagonist will say something about it. In order to steer the player toward certain directions [that might trigger cinematics, for example], we use the PS VR2’s super accurate eye-tracking technology. So even if you have an item in one spot, as long as your head is facing that way and you look at it, it will still trigger [its corresponding action]. This also keeps the player headed in the right direction without us having to take control away from them and pull them out of the immersion.
How do haptics affect the game’s weapons?
We have over 25 guns in the game and they all have their own haptics profiles. So shooting, pulling the slide back, or reloading it with a mag feels different each time. But the most noticeable feature comes from the trigger. You start with a fairly light firearm, so the trigger feedback isn’t that extreme. But later in the game, you get the Desert Eagle, and suddenly, you notice this extreme feedback change. That’s the case with every weapon’s unique feedback profile.
Was 3D audio important to Arizona Sunshine 2’s development?
Very. It goes back to a design principle that we have. We don’t want to scare the player, especially with cheap jump scares. But what we like doing is taking their attention. Attention to danger being near you will naturally make you somewhat scared, and that’s how we know we’re doing it right. Audio is a perfect tool for that. I think the examples that the players can notice is that the audio changes based on where you are and where a zombie is.
For example, if there’s a wall or a window, you’ll hear the muffled sound of zombies. But when you shoot the window, you’ll hear the zombie more clearly because the audio is more direct. Sounds will have a different profile based on your location rather than just playing different sounds. It’s dynamically calculated and adds to the immersion.
How does PlayStation 5’s technology affect the game as a whole?
The overall console adds to the immersion we’re pushing in Arizona Sunshine 2. The performance we’re getting out of it is great, the game looks better, and the loading times are amazing. In fact, the loading adds to the immersion more than you’d expect. In many VR games, you’re stuck looking at a bar while it’s loading. That’s not an issue here, so you’re constantly moving and engrossing yourself in this world.
Arizona Sunshine 2 is proving to be a worthy sequel by pulling players deeper into its immersive world with menacing zombies, engrossing gunplay, and a lovable interactive canine companion. You can get your hands on it and see how it feels to pet Buddy the dog with PS VR2’s haptics on December 7.