Seven years after its predecessor, Arizona Sunshine 2 is back to bring you more head-popping fun, and thanks to its co-op capability and wide release on all major VR platforms, you’ll be able to have a friend join you for this particular vision of the zombie apocalypse.

Arizona Sunshine 2 Details:

Available On: Quest 2/3/Pro, PSVR 2, PC VR
Reviewed On: Quest 3
Release Date: December 7th, 2023
Price: $50
Developer: Vertigo Games

Gameplay

There’s no shortage of zombie games in VR, and to that end, Arizona Sunshine 2 doesn’t do much to upend the ‘zombie game’ formula, but it does the basics quite well. You’ll find the classic dumb and slow zombies all over the campaign which individually aren’t much of a threat but can overwhelm you if you aren’t careful.

While the game has an unfortunate lack of enemy variety, I at least found that popping heads (with a gun or melee weapon) was mostly fun up until the end of the game.

That probably wouldn’t have been the case if the game didn’t manage to deliver a solid combination of visuals, sound effects, and enough weapon complexity to make it a joy to hit headshots every time.

The game could certainly be better paced. The middle third feels like essentially the same encounters over and over, and your strategy rarely needs to change. Encounter design gets better in the last third, with some more fun and memorable moments, but it would have been nice to have those more evenly scattered throughout the game.

Similar to not mixing up the zombie formula, Arizona Sunshine 2 also doesn’t do anything particularly novel with its weapons, but they got the details right. Manual reloads, including bullet chambering, are the norm for every gun, along with some really satisfying pump-action shotguns. I quite appreciated the feel of reloading the pump-action shotguns, which felt easy but also satisfying. And I liked the detail that some of the game’s SMGs had an open-bolt design compared to the closed-bolt of the rest of the pistols.

While the weapon details were solid, I didn’t feel there was enough functional difference between them (likely because the enemies are almost entirely identical). All pistols felt like they had the same head-shotting power and accuracy, which means the one with the biggest magazine is always be the best.

And because of the effectiveness of headsets, automatic firing weapons felt like an invitation to waste your ammo—especially because of their poor iron sights. I played the game at its default difficulty, so it’s possible that weapons better differentiate themselves at higher difficulties.

There’s a handful of more unique weapons like a grenade launcher, gatling gun, and flamethrower which helped to spice things up later in the game.

The one place where Arizona Sunshine 2 is really doing something novel is with your dog companion, Buddy. As clunky as his animations can be at times, it’s fun to have a capable NPC companion with you in VR (and a clever narrative excuse to make sense of the main character talking to themselves). You can pet Buddy, tell him to sit, fetch, and attack zombies, which he manages to do well enough to be consistently helpful.

Speaking of narrative, the game offers a straightforward zombie apocalypse story that’s light on character development, but interesting enough to want to know where things are headed. The character that you play has a crass sense of humor and just enough memorable quips and one-liners to give him a bit of charm and personality.

At one point the game really seemed like it was setting up the player to have to answer an interesting moral quandary, but then just… didn’t. I can’t quite tell if this was an unintentional red herring, or if the idea had to be scrapped for some reason during the development process. For me personally, I like when games ask players to make real choices, and this would have been a very memorable one—especially because of VR’s added immersion. Unfortunately it will go down merely as a missed opportunity.

So, Arizona Sunshine 2 has fun-to-kill zombies, solid weapon details (even if they lack differentiation), and a unique and generally well-executed companion pupper. It’s a solid game.

But what pushes it over the edge from ‘good’ to ‘great’ for me is co-op. Being able to bring a friend along for this apocalyptic journey makes for memorable moments and laughs that just wouldn’t happen if you were alone. In particular, having a friend with you often converts janky moments to funny moments. The game also does a good job of scattering interactive objects and a handful of playful scenes which encourage goofing around between players.

And it’s worth noting that while Arizona Sunshine 2 is definitely a zombie game, it’s definitely not a horror game; I don’t recall any ‘horror’ moments or jump scares. And while I personally would have enjoyed that as an additional element, players who don’t like horror can play the game with confidence that it’s more of a fun romp than a spooky shooter.

As for game length, it took me around 7 hours to play through Arizona Sunshine 2, and I must have been fairly thorough because my ammo counts were consistently maxed out and I seemed to have enough materials to make more explosives at the game’s minimal crafting stations than I could carry.

As a nice co-op bonus, there’s also a ‘Horde’ mode which supports up to four players. It’s a fairly standard wave-based holdout situation, but reasonably well put together and worth a few sessions with friends.

Immersion

Arizona Sunshine 2 does a good job of filling the game with a variety of physics-props and making most things that appear obviously interactive, in fact, interactive.

Cabinets and drawers with handles will pull open. Glass breaks. Some objects have destroyed states when you shoot them. Basketballs bounce. Lighters work, and you can even put a cigar in your mouth and light it up. It’s clear that attention was paid to interactive details.

We’re not talking Half-Life: Alyx levels of detail, but it definitely exceeds what we see in the average VR game.

And again, this is all amplified with co-op. Interactive ‘set-pieces’—like a beer pong table—invite friends to take a breather from the apocalypse and just play around with what the game puts in front of them. Like the various hats and masks scattered throughout the game which serve no purpose other than giving players something fun to find, wear, and laugh about.

While the interactive details in Arizona Sunshine 2 are solid, I found the game’s holster system was cumbersome and detracted from my immersion.

The worst offender was definitely the ammo pouch which essentially sits in your chest. That’s where you stash ammo when picked up and where it’s pulled from when you need a mag. But it frequently was in my way when trying to put a mag into my gun. Often I would pull out a mag and move to put it into my gun, but it would get sucked back into my inventory because it came too close to my chest.

Weapons are also ‘bound’ to you automatically. If you grab a gun with your left hand, it is now associated with (and will automatically return to) your left holster. If you grab another gun with your left hand, it is forcibly swapped with the one that was previously bound to you. This also means you can’t hand or toss a gun to your friend, which is a big bummer for a co-op game.

It’s also easy to drop items because many can only be grabbed or targeted at specific points; sometimes slight deviations would cause the force-grab targeting to flicker and miss. And the cherry on top is that every time you drop something it’s a pain in the ass to reach down and pick up. A more functional force-grab system like that of Half-Life: Alyx would have been a welcomed addition.

These holster and targeting issues also made it annoying to try to hand objects from one person to another. Just go watch any footage from this game where two people try to exchange objects and I guarantee you will see them drop the object to the ground at least 50% of the time.

For a studio that has been around for so long, it’s strange that these issues are so apparent when there’s so many better examples to work from at this point.

Another immersion issue (which seems to be much less of an issue on non-Quest headsets) is that the game’s physics system appears to run at half framerate (or maybe even lower). Not only does this make moving or thrown physics objects less convincing as they stutter through the air, but it also leads to your hands frequently clipping through things.

This often led me to the dreaded ‘hand clipped through the door’ issue that’s always a nuisance because trying to remove your hand from the other side of the door almost always means pulling it directly back into your face.

The physics issue also significantly blunts the interactions between fast moving objects. If you try to swat something off of a table, there’s a good chance that your arm passes directly through the object and never interacts with it. Or maybe it just barely grazes it, making your slap feel like nothing more than a gust of wind.

Those physics issues might have been a necessary concession for other goals the studio wanted to achieve; I was impressed with how many zombies and ragdoll bodies the game could display at once.

At one point I was practically wading through a pile of dead zombie bodies, and Quest 3 managed to keep up.

Graphically, the game definitely appears built for tethered headsets first—and certainly looks best on them—but Vertigo Games did a serviceable job crunching the game onto Quest. And the experience appears to be one-to-one (in terms of physics objects and enemy count) even when one player is on standalone and one is on a tethered VR headset.

Comfort

Arizona Sunshine 2 supports a fairly standard set of comfort options and is generally good about designing levels around comfort. There are a few sequences where the player is on a moving platform which was fine for me but could be a trigger for more sensitive folks.

While I’d say this could be circumvented by turning on the game’s peripheral blinders, the blinder implementation seems problematic. I play most VR games with some blinders enabled, but the ones in Arizona Sunshine 2 actually make me feel less comfortable.

I think the issue is that the implementation shrinks each eye’s view from all sides, resulting in a ‘binoculars’ view that hinders your stereo overlap, instead of simply appearing in your left and right periphery. This might even just be a bug, but in any case I hope it’s fixed soon for players who rely on blinders.

Arizona Sunshine 2′ Comfort Settings – December 7, 2023

Turning
Artificial turning
Snap-turn
Quick-turn
Smooth-turn
Movement
Artificial movement
Teleport-move
Dash-move
Smooth-move
Blinders
Head-based
Controller-based
Swappable movement hand
Posture
Standing mode
Seated mode
Artificial crouch
Real crouch
Accessibility
Subtitles
Languages
English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Spanish
Dialogue audio
Languages English
Adjustable difficulty
Two hands required
Real crouch required
Hearing required
Adjustable player height

 

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
8

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Runesr2

    Why test the most low-end and ugly Quest 3 standalone version of the game instead of the high-end PSVR2 and PCVR2 versions – which actually have more ratings combined than the Quest version?

    Right now Quests have 442 ratings

    PCVR and PSVR2 have 660 ratings

    • Ben Lang

      I actually tested on Quest 2, Quest 3, and Index, but I played the vast majority on Quest 3.

      • NotMikeD

        Why was that? Was it due to personal preference for playing that version on that device, or to better serve that more mainstream crowd?

        • Andrey

          I will answer that (maybe I am wrong, but still) – if I was reviewing a game that’s availible on multiple platforms I definitely would be playing on the “weakest” platform to see how it can handle it throughout the whole game and then separately test PCVR and PSVR2 versions to rate the visuals/performance/controls, etc.. Because PCVR or PSVR2 experience initially the same, but with better graphics, so the main question with such multiplatform titles is “how much is the difference (if there is any) between Quest/PCVR/PSVR2 versions?” and to answer that you need to experience it on Quest. So I don’t think that it’s about Meta favoritism or, as you said, “serving the mainstream crowd”.

          • kakek

            The weakes plateform would be Quest 2, not quest 3. Also the wider spread for now.
            Quest 3 would just be the more “hype” one. The one that attract people. The one they are most likely to consider buying.

      • Runesr2

        I did not read anything about Index in your review. Would be nice with an elaborate review of graphics differences between the low-end and high-end. Beardo Benjo did a nice comparison, but I would have appreciated seeing that here too. Graphics matter tremendously for immersion and presence.

        • XRC

          Biggest problem I had with Index was manually reloading the handguns?

          Trying to push the magazine home with my left hand, and running out of vertical space to get the magazine to lock into the gun before hitting my right hand, meant inconsistency which is the last thing you want when under pressure in a zombie gunplay game. infuriating to say the least.

          Sorry, after an hour of repeatedly struggling through the first levels of the game with this issue, I’d had enough, Steam refunded what was a release day purchase, and I went back to playing other games that don’t suffer this problem.

          • Ben Lang

            Yeah I also had that issue and was totally puzzled. I asked on Twitter and some people said it worked fine for them on Index but they had the issue on Touch controllers! It must be some weird built-related bug, so I hoped the devs would be on that fix quickly.

          • kool

            I hate manual reloads for zombie games, I mean how much realism do you need for a zombie apocalypse?

          • XRC

            Two words explain why:-

            “Motion controllers”

    • ViRGiN

      PCVR2? Did pc get some next gen upgrade?
      Both PC and PSVR2 looks like shit given unlimited power it has. It looks impressive on the Quest. On PC it already managed to loose 3/4 of it’s playerbase.

      • patfish

        We on PC are looking only for quality in 2023. At the moment all VR Games have to run on the mobile Quest and that limits VR Game-Design and Graphics massively .
        That’s very sad. Mobile and offline computing is (until VR Cloudrendering is coming on mobile Divices) a total different story and should be divided in development like PC Games and Smartphone Games.

        • ViRGiN

          Mobile VR didn’t stop games released before 2019 looking like shit.
          Quest doesn’t hamper any development of anything. Lack of Valve funding does.

          • patfish

            Before 2019 VR-Gaming was in his absolute childhood and it was clear that first all the game machanics in VR had to be explored before AAA title could have been made. But Titles like Lone Eco, AW,and MoH and co. looked already better than everything we got in the last 3 mobile years!!!. The best looking VR Games still are from the year 2020!!!.

            Meta bought with its 40.000.000.000$ investment the whole VR industry and forced with its markt dominance everyone (who was not already bought :D) to develop for their Platform! That’s the only reason why VR-Games look like they do today! And why 4 year old VR Titles are still look and feel like from the feature :-/

            PS: Valve will be back soon ;-) …the day I will sell my Q3 will be a good one for VR Gaming again :D

          • ViRGiN

            The day you sell your Quest 3 is the day Quest 4 gets announced. You’re such a pcvr cultist. Onward looked like shit before it had anything to do with Quest, you gotta be trolling or outright stupid to claim otherwise.

          • patfish

            Onward 1.7 looked ok for 2018. After that (since Meta took over with Version 1.8) it really looks like shit! Onward would have needed a graphic Upgrade but got (thx to Mata) a massive downgrade :(

            If the Quest 4 has 4K mOLED-Screens ;-) … But I’m very positive that we will see the Valve Deckard next year :)

            @Cultist: Maybe? Tell me a single top mobile VR Game from the last 3 Years, which Meta has achieved with its 40.000.000.000$ and I should install???. AC: Nexus is until today the only mobile game I could play longer than 15 minutes and is the only one I have on my Quest :D

          • kakek

            Onward never looked great, but the downgrade for the Quest port was obvious as shit.
            Same for contractors. It looks honnestly pretty good on quest, they did a fine job fitting it on the quest. But even then, there’s no denying the maps looked way better before the quest port.

            I told you before, you would be more credible if you didn’t try defend everything Meta related and attack Valve on every and all front all the time.

            You can’t defend that quest game look as good as PCVR game. That’s just obviously false. You can’t defend that no game was downgraded because of the quest. That factually the case.

            You can argue, reasonably, that it was necessary, that PCVR simply (and sadly ) had no future by itself. That without quest market, thsoe games would have been abandonned or never made in the first place anyway.

            I know a lot of people do the opposite and simp for everything Valve does unconditionally, and it’s just as dumb. But you don’t HAVE to be the same level in the opposite way.

          • ViRGiN

            The maps in Contractors are still the very same maps as before Quest – they just f’ed the lighting.
            How on earth a PCVR game MUST be downgraded in order to have crossplay with Quest? That’s just shitty development, not a technical necessity. Show me how AFTER THE FALL got affected on PC/PSVR2 cause of Quest existence?
            You are trying to put blame on Meta for PCVR being absolute dogpoop. Valve owns ENTIRE PC MARKET, you want quality, blame those who don’t spend a single cent and have a full monopoly over the market.
            I don’t know how pathethic you can stay like that. PCVR wasn’t doomed to fail. Why is there even a PC market in era of PS5 and Xbox? 98%+ of EXISTING GAMING PC OWNERS were not interested in getting a headset, or some of them did but chose not to use it with PC.

          • kakek

            I make a long post, with reasonable arguments.
            You immediately proceed to answer by doing exactly what I denounced ( defend factually false things ) and transform what I said with obvious bad faith.

            I could explain that yes, sometime you will touch maps layout for optimisation. And that was done for contractors. And tell you that, no, I didn’t blame meta for the state of PCVR. But what’s the point ? I didn’t, and you know it. My post is still there. You absolutely ignored sentences like “without quest market, thsoe games would have been abandonned or never made in the first place anyway.”

            You don’t even really like VR anyway. You’re just here to troll.
            Don’t forget to remind us that gorilla tag is the biggest seller on steamVR and that proves it’s better than the other games or something like that.

          • ViRGiN

            Gorilla tag being not only the top seller, but also the most popular game on pcvr is the evidence that there is no high end on pc, and the handful of games you may want to name here like alyx are irrelevant. I don’t care about reviewers opinion. It’s game from valve, and that alone changes everything in how it’s perceived. I found it absolutely boring and joke of a game for such massive corporation. Gold standards? The environment is nearly all static, there are like 3 one handed guns, and tons of wall wire puzzles. Everything from valve is held in much higher regard than if it was committed incognito.

          • ViRGiN

            Also, I can’t ignore the fact that the new Gorilla Tag for PCVR is Five Nights at Freddy 2. 2600 concurrent players!! this has revived PCVR this year like nothing before! Very adult entertainment!

          • dextrovix

            I think you’re the cult around here. Oops, typo.

          • kakek

            Except for onward or contractors. And that’s the more obvious ones. Mobile limitations definitively affected how a lot of games looked.
            Then again, you can argue that without the market of mobile VR, most of those games wouldn’t have existed at all anyway, dues to lack of budget.

            So I don’t blame the quest for a lot of PCVR games looking worse than they could have. Sure, some games would have looked better if the quest didn’t exist. But that’s if they had existed at all. And probably only of fraction of them woul have.

            I don’t blame it, but denying the link exist is dumb.

            Saying valve should have funded it is also dumb. Despite it’s image and steam money, Valve only has something like 1/10th of meta’s budget. They were never in a position to do more than they did for PCVR.

          • ViRGiN

            I’m still unable to comprehend how Quest affects PCVR games. Is there some tickbox in an engine, that when checked for Android build, it automatically downgrades everything for the PC side? No, it doesn’t. Developers just don’t give an F about pathethic fat gayben people waiting for $5 sale.

            > Saying valve should have funded it is also dumb. Despite it’s image and steam money, Valve only has something like 1/10th of meta’s budget. They were never in a position to do more than they did for PCVR.
            Now that’s really dumb. Full blown gaybenism. “do more than they did”? They haven’t done a single shit at all! Your whole reply is so pathethic!

          • kakek

            Yours is full of shit.

            They produced 2 headset, with features that pushed the tech. They created an open framework. And they develloped the best AAA VR game, no contest. Years after, no other VR game has reached the level of HL:Alyx
            Deny it all you want like a good hater. Everyone knows it. Evey VR influencer still aknowledge that it’s the gold standard for VR graphics, physics, interaction, and gamedesign in general.
            They have 1/10th of the budget, I don’t think Meta has done 10 games the scale of Alyx.
            Is the budget of one of hte only REAL AAA games nothing ?

            Now how PCVR is influenced by mobile is obvious if you have participated in any game devellopement. Specifically the level design and optimisation phase. HEll, if you have any video game “culture”.
            I’ll explain, but honestly I’m 90% sure you know it and you’re talking in bad faith.
            Map layout IS influenced by performance budget. Contractors maps HAVE been modified to remove some elements, and avoid large views that are too heavy for quest. No there isn’t a switch that turns any game ugly. And that’s to bad, cause if there was that switch might also make it run on quest in one click. But since it doesn’t exist you have to calibrate your whole game to run on the lowest plateform. Limit the polycount of every asset, limit numbers of lights, avoid large areas, maybe reconsider some levels idea you had that are hard to make without a higher performance budget, reduce the size of levels because ram…
            And since there isn’t a beautify switch either, once you’ve done that you don’t redo you whole game for the stronger plateform.
            FFS, you can’t follow video games and not know that multiplateform games are limited by the weakest plateform. Not just in VR but in flat as well.
            Youtube is full of people explaining how cross gen titles are limited in every way, down to the general design of the game, by last gen support.
            You want to know how mobile VR affect PCVR ? look up how last gen affect current gen, and pretty much all of it applies to mobile VR / PCVR as well.

          • ViRGiN

            Load of bullshit. Pc maps Contractors loads different assets than the one running on mobile. Show me where can i find what has changed since quest release in terms of assets used. Did they remove foliage on pc to accommodate quest?

          • kool

            Quest compatibility does lower the scope for gameplay and graphics. Game streaming is needed badly for standalones to get AAA games!

          • ViRGiN

            HOW! HOW! Show me all these PCVR/PSVR2 exclusive games that could never run in the same scope on Quest.

          • kool

            Re4, Skyrim hell quest can’t even play stormland. I hear Asgard is dope the games are getting bigger.

          • ViRGiN

            Skyrim runs on Nintendo Switch. It ran on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.
            Lack of Quest port does not meaning it could not possibly run, or the game would have to be cut down LMAO! Why is there no Half Life Alyx on PSVR2? PS5 could never handle it? PSVR2 dumbs down PCVR games, just look at Pavlov after implementing crossplay.

      • kool

        Bro did you play re8…you’d let zuck bend you over a barrel if q3 games looked that good.

        • ViRGiN

          You’d pipe gayben twice if he would let you play Asgard Wrath 2, and other mobile games plugged into your outdated, bulky and obsolete PCVR.

          I don’t masturbate about reprojected 60 FPS while wearing fresnel lens headset with zero built in audio, and a tether.

  • Ender772

    $50 for a vr game? for a short vr game.

    • NotMikeD

      $50 for a short game in general probably isn’t great. But man this “$50 for a VR GAME?!” Mentality needs to die if we ever hope to get VR games of the depth, length, and polish we crave.

      • kakek

        It’s a bit short for a 50$ game. I think it needed at least 50% more content. For that price, I generally expect a 10 hour campaign.
        And that’s more probably what people mean when they say “for a VR game.” For a game that still does NOT have the scope and lenght of a flat title.
        Flat single player FPS or TPS around that price typicalle last 10 to 15 hours.

    • Ben Lang

      Some of my favorite gaming experiences ever have only been a few hours long. I judge stuff much more on whether or not I’m having fun, not how long it can keep me occupied. In fact many games end up being less fun because they pad our 5 or 6 hours of fun into 10.

  • Honestly, I don’t get your review scores but I guess it’s fairly subjective. AC:Nexus, which is bigger, has more longevity, plays for 15-20 hours and costs 10bucks less is a 7.5 with criticism to lots of things that hold also true to AS2.

    The mechanics often, if not most of the time don’t work, because you are grabbing things (if at all) you don’t want. The assets are ugly and way out of proportion, the level design is as simple as it gets, the animations are stiff, the Zs lame like target practice and it costs min.10bucks more while having a playtime of roughly 6 hours with no incentive to come back.

    It has none if the snappyness that made the first one quite good. Instead it tried „physics“ but look where that halfbaked implementation got us.

    I really wonder, since you do the great UI/UX series, how you cope with the dreadful and often missbehaving plague that this game offers. Oh and its full of bugs and glitches of course.

    Not to mention that it looks downright awful for PC enthusiasts but that was to be expected somehow. It’s overhyped, imho.

    • david vincent

      A review is always subjective, duh. Just read the test and forget the score.

    • Ben Lang

      Bigger, longer doesn’t always equal more fun.

      Regardless, as I mentioned in the review, co-op was a big factor for me, and boosted Arizona Sunshine 2 roughly from a 7 to and 8. If AC: Nexus was co-op, it would have gotten a similar boost.

      • I find it hardly fun, when I struggle most of the time to reload or grab what I intended to grab – due to the utter annoyance of the gameplaymechanic / UI.

        • Ben Lang

          Did you play with a friend or solo?

          • Both, Co-Op (crossplay, I‘m on Steam and my friend via PSVR2) and solo. But the broken gameplay mechanics is what makes it very tedious imo.