Arizona Sunshine is a fun VR zombie shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The primary mission sends your character, a former soldier in the US Army, on a quest to find remaining survivors. On the way, you explore different areas of Arizona full of abandoned vehicles and houses that you can loot for ammo and weapons. The added DLC missions send you on two separate adventures, both in aid of the US Army to help slow the spread of the zombies.
The game also offers a horde mode, which has zombies coming at you in waves, for you to see how many points you can get before the zombies win by killing you. The game offers multiplayer modes, where players can play the game with up to four friends.
The gameplay is quite fun and intuitive, using the trigger buttons to shoot and the side buttons on the controllers for any other interactions such as opening doors or changing weapons. The weapon and ammo belt surrounds your waist at the perfect height, which makes switching weapons smooth. All of this means that it’s incredibly easy to learn how to play, which makes it great for beginners, VR enthusiasts wanting to introduce friends to the game, or well-seasoned players alike.
The main character, a former soldier, is quite vocal about his frustrations of being surrounded by zombies without any other living people around. His comments and nicknames for the zombies make the game fun to play with since it makes one feel like having company while playing the game. There is always someone there who also goes ‘ugh how are there so many zombies?’, or better, Freddies, as the main character calls them.
The zombies themselves don’t look very realistic or overly scary, but they’re scary enough to want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. I personally quite liked not having incredibly realistic enemies, as it probably would have made the game a little too scary for me, especially during the missions in the dark or underground.
From what I can tell, there are three different kinds of them: Normal, runners, and helmeted ones. The regular zombies are easy enough to shoot (all of them require a shot to the head to kill). Some of those, however, turn into runners as soon as they see or notice you, which means you should probably finish them first before they finish you. The third type is the helmeted ones. A few of the zombies wear motorcycle or army helmets, which makes it harder to shoot them. A standard shotgun must be angled in a way that hits them directly in the face, or you use a more powerful weapon. The game offers both one and two-handed modes.
The zombies’ movement is quite predictably with either walker or runners, but when swamped by an army of zombies, it can still get tricky to get rid of them all, especially when they start attacking from all sides. Luckily there are no jump scares in the game, since this would probably lead to players jumping into a wall out of fear, which is arguably a bit of a health and safety risk. If the zombies manage to get close enough to attack, your health decreases, but there are conveniently placed fridges all over the game with burger patties in them to munch on for health recovery. Likewise, ammunition and new weapons are easily found all over the game, so there were rarely any times when I ran out of ammo.
The only cons of the game are that the door opening functions don’t always work, so sometimes it takes a few attempts to open a door or to get in and out of a building. Hopefully, this can be improved in an update, but this is the only gameplay problem I encountered while playing. What was a little annoying was not being able to save whenever I wanted, but instead having to wait for a checkpoint. The game can be paused by just returning to the main Oculus menu though, so this is always an option if you quickly need to pause.
Some might argue that the graphics of the game aren’t amazing, but to be honest, if I want to shoot zombies while exploring Arizona and completing missions, the game delivers exactly this. Yes, more detailed or better graphics would be nifty but aren’t a necessity for the game at all.
Dead Man DLC
In the Dead Man DLC you get sent on a mission to launch a nuclear warhead loaded missile vital to stopping the spread of the zombies in the American Southwest. When entering the facility, there are several elevator elements, where after reaching an elevator, you are fighting off an army of zombies before said elevator arrives. This race against time element brings a fun new twist into the game, as it is often unclear in the main game when the zombies will stop coming at you in an area. Of course, both have a different tension to them, but mixing things up a bit is fun in this DLC.
For most of the mission, the surroundings are quite dark, and exciting surroundings such as misty outdoors are giving the whole game an eery feeling. Because of the darkness, this is the only DLC featuring a red dot indicating where you shoot, which is very convenient, especially when still practising headshots on the zombies.
In the end, you reach an area that should look familiar if you’ve already finished the main game, to find a tragic end to your mission.
The Damned DLC
Preceding the events of the main game and Dead Man DLC, in the most extended DLC of the game so far, you and your team are sent out by the US Special Forces on a mission to reactivate the military’s nuclear missile system. The mission brings you into a huge hydroelectric dam to restore the power by reactivating the generator. Before making it into the building, due to terrifying events, you are left to continue on your own, making it inside of the zombie-infested building, only guided via radio from your commander, whom your character doesn’t have the best relationship with.
The Damned is the most extended DLC mission so far, and having played both on normal difficulty. I found it slightly more challenging than Dead Man. Having the commander’s voice to give directions was generally quite helpful though, as are your character’s cynic summaries of them. Going deep into the building and having the music intensify every time zombies swamp you make it an exciting new quest which made my heartbeat rise on more than just a few occasions.
Overall, the game is delightful if you like (more or less) open world and zombie shooting games and enjoy looking for ammo and loot in different places. It is very accessible and intuitive, without any problematic controls or instructions, which makes it great for VR beginners as well as those who have been using VR for longer. Shooting zombies is fun, and so is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you have managed to get past a massive hoard of them coming at you. This game offers collaborative multiplayer modes because shooting zombies with friends is even more fun than on your own.
Reporter, Virtual Perceptions
Lena Mandahus is a graduate from the University of Vienna, with experience copyediting articles.