I appreciate games that get right to the point, and Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is the epitome of directness. There’s no complex story, no intricate menus to navigate, no long cutscenes – just you, some guns, and tons of zombies to shoot in the face. Better still, Zombieland VR is chock full of one to two minute levels which are perfect for people with minimal free time or short attention spans, but who want to still feel as if they made a bit of progression despite only dedicating ten minutes of their day to the game. It’s fast, arcade style fun that has a few more layers than first shown, but still never loses sight of its initial goal to simply entertain without any extraneous frills.
The game begins with a quick tutorial mission that teaches you the basics of aiming, reloading, and shooting in VR along with perhaps the most important advice – double tap. Fans of the movie already know what that means, but in the game, it is essential to completing goals. Double tapping is shooting a zombie in the head twice to ensure that it is dead, and in Zombieland doing so will place you in adrenaline mode, which slows down the enemies, allowing you to chain attacks together for added toilet paper.
That’s right, I said toilet paper. Money is useless in the apocalypse, but guess what is a precious commodity? Toilet paper. We learned first-hand during the pandemic the value of toilet paper, and it seems the Zombieland crew did too. Completing challenges, getting headshots, finishing levels, and more will reward you with toilet paper which can then be spent to upgrade your arsenal at your home base.
Your home base is an abandoned mansion which Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock have commandeered and retrofitted to suit their zombie hunting needs. Tallahassee serves as your gun expert, allowing you to upgrade your weapons, choose your loadout, and equip perks (more on perks later). Little Rock provides you with missions to complete, Wichita trains you at the gun range, and Columbus provides you with a variety of optional goals to complete.
You may want to head to the gun range first, as it not only provides you a means to test out the different weapons available, but also has multiple difficulties and challenges to complete to perfect your VR shooting skills. What begins as simple target practice eventually devolves into precision based sharpshooting which will almost certainly be too hard to complete until you’re better acclimated to the game. You’d be surprised how hard some of the challenges can become, but your reflexes will thank you for the lessons learned the next time you’re in a dire situation during a level run.
You begin with a basic handgun and shotgun, but your arsenal grows as you complete goals and survive levels. You can carry one handgun and one special weapon at a time, and while the handgun may have unlimited ammo, the special weapon is severely restricted and must be saved for emergencies. Weapons can be upgraded three to four times each, normally upping their base damage, critical hit damage, and magazine size. For those who like to customize, you will also unlock a variety of skins for each weapon which can be equipped when setting up your loadout, and do look pretty cool when viewed up close.
Perks open gradually and provide a variety of helpful bonuses, such as auto reloading, additional toilet paper rewards, the ability to dual wield special weapons, safety from projectiles, and more. Eventually, you can equip three perks at once. Perks are necessary to work your way up the online leaderboards, as the entire game is based around how quickly you can complete levels.
Missions open up as you complete goals and come in four tiers: rookie, advanced, expert, and pro. Each tier has three A-side levels and three B-side levels. All levels have four goals to accomplish, which may range from completing the course below a certain time limit, to finding hidden items amidst the chaos, to chaining together kills. Upon completing a level you’ll immediately see your rank on the online leaderboards. The goals and leaderboard provide great incentive to replay a level, especially with upgraded weapons, as every second shaved off your run can allow you to make significant progress on the board.
A-side levels are the base levels while B-side levels are incredibly challenging and only for those with upgraded materials and a firm grasp of the intricacies of the shooting/adrenaline system. To unlock the next tier and set of levels you must complete a set number of goals. Thankfully, just naturally playing the A-side levels should unlock all tiers without the necessity to complete B-side level goals which may be too challenging to more casual players. Still, it is nice to have the additional levels for those who want more of a challenge.
Levels are short, normally clocking in at one to two minutes, but can be much shorter depending on your skill with headshots. That’s not to say they are easy, especially early on. Zombieland is meant to be played in short chunks, with the entire game lasting no more than a few hours, but while also providing immense replay value. The shooting, adrenaline mode, perks, weapons, goals, and leaderboards all provide an insane amount of replayability to what is already an immensely satisfying and addictive game.
Wielding the guns feels good and is surprisingly easy to accurately aim, although managing large crowds remains challenging throughout. The only issue I have is with the special weapon, which is holstered on your left side and is picked up using the L1 button which must then be held the entire time you want to wield the weapon. This is in stark contrast to the handgun in your right hand which is automatically equipped. It may not sound like much, but it becomes frustratingly easy to allow your finger to slip and drop the gun back to your holster without realizing it until an enemy is in your face and you are frantically pressing L2 to fire only to realize you’re holding nothing. It may not happen a lot but is something you have to be constantly aware of to prevent unnecessary deaths.
Movement is simple thanks to the PS VR2 headset, which simply reacts to you looking in the right direction. There is no free roam, only set paths to take, but you’ll only move when you directly look at the needed marker. It is intuitive and helps keep the fast flow of the game, but also allows you to stand in one place to reload and check out the scenery if you aren’t ready to move on and aren’t worried about your completion time. Additionally, the headset rumble and haptics in the Sense controllers are subtle, but appreciated additions, to help you feel the pulse of the gun or the attack of a zombie.
I have not played the original release of Zombieland VR, so I can’t comment on the differences between releases, but I am aware that the entire graphical style was changed. Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded features a unique cel-shaded style that works great with the setting and really makes the zombies and environments pop. While it’s not anything you’re going to use to show off the power of the VR2, it is perfectly acceptable and compliments the fast-paced, arcade style perfectly.
While the actors did not reprise their roles, aside from Abigail Breslin as Little Rock, the new actors do a perfectly suitable job of imitating the original actors and provide funny banter between missions and during runs. While on a run they will make fun of you for messing up or not completing areas as quickly as previous runs, likewise when you are doing well they will compliment you, sometimes half-heartedly, but hey – a compliment is a compliment. Despite near constant talking during runs, you’ll rarely be distracted as your entire focus tends to be on the onslaught of enemies at hand.
Enemies range from slow and dumb, to large and hard to take down, to extremely fast. Some will throw items at you, while others are harmless and will lead to penalties if killed. Others will call for reinforcements or cause groups to devolve into a frenzy, becoming faster and harder to kill. The game does a great job introducing each zombie type and then gradually melding them all together to create a chaotic, but manageable, battlefield.
Richard Allen is a freelance writer and contributing editor for various publications. When not writing for Gaming Trend you can find him covering theatre for Broadway World, movies and TV for Fandomize, or working on original stories. An avid retro gamer, he is overly obsessed with Dragon's Lair. Chat with him via @thricetheartist on Twitter and @richardallenwrites on Facebook and Instagram.
Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded
Zombieland: Headshot Fever Reloaded is a great VR shooter with precise shooting, good enemy variety, a nice cel-shaded art style, and near infinite replayability. While the base campaign is short, the multiple goals, B-side levels, upgrades, and leaderboards help to flesh out the game and provide a compelling reason to continue jumping back into the chaos long after you first complete the levels.