VR Spotlight: Survive the Sun-Scorched Zombie Apocalypse in Arizona Sunshine
From George A. Romero’s seminal film, Night of the Living Dead, to Capcom’s genre-defining survival-horror game, Resident Evil, people have been consumed with zombies for decades. But why are humans so fascinated by post-apocalyptic worlds where the dead rise to eat the living?
“I think part of it is the ‘one person versus the world’ dynamic of trying to survive in a world where everyone is a zombie and out to get you,” says John Coleman, Director of Business Development at Vertigo Games. “It’s the ultimate underdog story. It also can pull on emotions of characters you know and love being turned into zombies. It hits a number of core human emotions.”
Coleman and Vertigo Games are bringing fans closer to the undead apocalypse with Arizona Sunshine, a visceral first-person zombie shooter built from the ground up for modern VR hardware including Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Welcome to the Apocalyptic Southwest
In Arizona Sunshine, players are dropped in the sun-scorched deserts of Arizona. While the heat is already unbearable, to make matters worse the Southwestern state is also home to hordes of flesh-eating zombies.
Vertigo Games ratchets up the level of tension and dread one notch further by leveraging modern VR to fully immerse players in its terrifying world.
“Once you put someone inside a virtual world, their eyes tell them that they are somewhere else,” Coleman explains. “No matter how much you tell yourself you are in a game, when you turn around and there is zombie right in your face it has the ability to generate an instinctive reaction and adrenaline rush.”
Visceral VR Violence
Thanks to built-in support for VR motion controls like Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers,
Arizona Sunshine boasts simulated weapon handling that enables players to handle, fire and reload firearms just as they would in real life. Coleman says this allowed them to bring players deeper into the unsettling world presented in Arizona Sunshine.
Instead of featuring display elements common to most shooters like aiming reticules and ammo counters, the gamehas players hunt down their zombie aggressors more realistically.
“The biggest thing for us is the aiming mechanic,” Coleman notes. “You really to have to line up the front and rear sights to hit something. Real guns don’t have ammo counters, so when you hear the click of an empty magazine, you have to physically reload. It makes the visceral reaction of being overwhelmed by zombies much more intense.”
Coleman adds that players must interact with other objects in the game as they would in the real world, too. This includes everything from picking up ammo and new guns to lobbing a grenade at a zombie to create an explosive shockwave that sends shrapnel, rocks, particles and smoldering zombie meat into the air.
Arizona Sunshine boasts multiplayer support, which includes a mode where up to four players can fight onrushing hordes of the undead together. The game also features co-op support for two players to work together to survive its campaign.
“We think the social side of VR is one of its best features,” Coleman says. “There is nothing like working as a team to fight off a zombie horde. You have to cover each other. You can toss ammo back and forth if one of you is running low. It’s just plain fun.”
Arizona Sunshine shambles onto VR headsets on December 6 for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.