Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond has seemingly everything going for it. The backing of Facebook’s VR publishing arm, Oculus Studios, and development by a world-renowned game studio, Respawn Entertainment. Unfortunately, outside of a competent multiplayer component, the game is missing the kind of core gameplay pillars and polish needed to support the bigger picture of a thrilling war adventure in VR.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond Details:

Available On: Oculus PC, SteamVR
Release Date: December 10th, 2020
Price: $60
Publisher: Oculus Studios
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Reviewed On: Quest 2, Rift S

Gameplay

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is a shooting gallery at heart. With imaginative weapons and interesting enemies, that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. But the game’s enemies have effective zero variability from one to the next, neither in the way they approach you or the way you approach them. While there’s a large arsenal of weapons on the surface, the only real choice is whether you’re going to use a close range gun or a long range gun. Outside of that, which weapon you choose has almost no impact on gameplay. Point, shoot, rinse, repeat. After you’ve killed one, you’ve killed them all—which makes killing hundreds of them throughout the game a dull affair.

It doesn’t help that the enemy AI is draft and their lethality feels highly binary. They always know exactly where you are, but either miss you completely or snipe you to death through a bush—leaving little room for tension in combat.

Even with these issues in mind, a game could still be fun as long as it has a dynamic sandbox and supplies the player with interesting combat scenarios. Unfortunately Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond also falters here, as the game constantly—and I mean constantly—resorts to simply spawning enemies around corners and throwing them at you, room after room after room.

The game’s persistent shooting gallery is interspersed with a good number of set-piece sequences designed to deliver epic WWII scenarios like commanding a tank, sinking a submarine, or charging the beach at Normandy.

Unfortunately most of the sequences lack the kind of polish that would make them truly fun or challenging, with many moments relying on aiming turrets with a face-cursor and micro-managing the player’s every move. It feels very much like the sequences in the game were picked not because they specifically supported fun VR gameplay, but because they checked the box of what someone imagined would be ‘cool to do’ in a WWII VR shooter. It certainly doesn’t help that the majority of these sequences ignore best practices for VR comfort (more on that in the comfort section below)—but at least you can skip them if you are sensitive to motion.

To make matters worse, the hand-off between regular boots-on-the-ground combat and the novel action sequences has little sense of pace as the player is constantly interrupted with ‘VICTORY’ screen pop-ups and light fanfare music, eradicating any sense of tension the game managed to build. At one point I was discovered as an undercover spy and the enemies knocked me out and captured me. This was apparently a ‘VICTORY’, despite finding myself tied to a chair in the very next sequence.

To top things off, the game’s writing is usually cheesy and at times cringeworthy. Characters you’re ostensibly supposed to care about feel like nothing more than caricatures. At one point a character which is supposedly friendly takes another character hostage by gunpoint; as they attempt to escape, you are instructed to gun them down with a .50 caliber turret. The scene fades to black. ‘VICTORY’ Later in the game the character which betrayed you, held your friend at gunpoint, and which you shot in recompense, returns as a friendly ally of the group with no acknowledgement that any of this happened. A facepalm moment—if not for my forehead being blocked by the headset.

It took me about eight hours to complete the single-player portion of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond without seeking a handful of collectibles that can be discovered in each mission.

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond’s single-player campaign might feel banal overall, but at least it has a competent multiplayer component. Though not without some jank of its own, there’s fast-paced action to be enjoyed by those who like to play competitively, even if the cut-throat pace might be more frustrating than fun for some.

Since the game wasn’t live at the time of my review, I only got a few hours of multiplayer play under my belt in scheduled play sessions. Granted, it felt like enough time to feel out the game’s multiplayer vibe overall, which you can read more about in my preview here. The only remaining question is whether or not the game’s multiplayer will attract a healthy player population.

There’s one piece of Medal of Honor that really does go above and beyond, and that’s the game’s ‘Gallery’, a set of live-action documentary shorts featuring WWII vets.

While the serious and reverent tone of the Gallery clashes with the cheesy action-movie feeling of the game’s campaign, it’s an honest-to-goodness documentary-quality production that’s moving to see. Most of the Gallery shorts are presented as high-quality flat video within a virtual theater space, though some of the shots switch to immersive (if low quality) 360 footage for extra impact.

The quality of the Gallery makes it a bit of a shame that it’s stuck inside Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond as a sort of ‘extra’. Oculus should really work to liberate this content from the game so everyone has a chance to see it.

Immersion

Image courtesy Respawn Entertainment

While a WWII adventure seems like it would afford many opportunities for immersive gameplay, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is missing the attention to detail that makes VR immersion shine, starting with iffy object selection.

There’s very little consistency in non-weapon object interactions. In the same room you might find a teacup which you can grab next to another teacup which is cemented in place with no physics. The very same wrench asset that’s grabbable in one scene might not be grabbable in the next. A desk may be filled with objects where half are interactive and the other half inexplicably aren’t.

This lack of consistency hampers the sense of a ‘solid’ world with consistent rules. While teacups, wrenches, and pieces of paper might be minor details which have no impact on gameplay, it’s the parts that spoil your agency that are the most immersion-breaking. For instance, there was one moment where I was assaulting a German bunker and spotted a ladder to the right of the door. I figured I could sneak in with the ladder instead of taking the direct approach. While there were several ladders like this one elsewhere in the game which could be climbed, when I reached for this one my hand simply phased through it. Moments like these can make the player feel foolish for trying to act on their intuition.

The game’s micromanaging of the player also spoils the sense of agency. You will constantly be told what to do, especially during the set-piece sequences. That’s arguably a good thing—because you’d have little idea what you were doing if the game wasn’t holding your hand—but it winds up feeling like you’re following a set of instructions rather than playing a game. ‘Stand here’. ‘Go there’. ‘Pull the lever’. And yes, even ‘give them a thumbs up to continue’.

Weapon handling is detailed enough to offer some intrigue while staying easy enough to not get in the way of gameplay, but it’s also subject to some interaction inconsistency issues. Weapon reloading requires ejecting a magazine, inserting a new one, and then charging the weapon. But if you forget to charge the weapon you actually can’t grip the gun’s foregrip until you do. In the midst of combat this actually is far more confusing than if I simply attempted to shoot the gun normally and heard a ‘clink’ sound to indicate I had missed one of the steps. Instead (if you forgot to charge the gun) your off-hand will fly confusingly away from the foregrip and to the charging handle. In the heat of combat it always took me a moment to put two-and-two together to understand why I couldn’t hold the gun like I was intending to.

Outside of this and some awkward weapon grabbing poses, weapons generally feel pretty good in the game. Although there isn’t enough enemy variety to make your choice of weapon truly matter outside of ‘short range’ or ‘long range’, I did appreciate the few weapons with unique interactions, like the level-action rifle which is cocked with a fun gesture, and the sawed-off shotgun which could be flicked opened and closed for reloading.

One major missed opportunity for building immersion in Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is audio. The graphics aren’t great, but I at least hoped a AAA studio like Respawn would deliver some industry-leading sound design. Alas, the game’s audio is merely passable.

Last but not least, be warned: if you don’t have the necessary 170GB of SSD space and choose to play on an HDD instead, you’ll be in for some painfully long loading screens.

Comfort

Image courtesy Respawn Entertainment

Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond relies entirely on smooth locomotion and expects constant stick movement and strafing. While there’s a range of comfort options—like blinders, snap turn, seated, and standing—no teleportation is offered.

Further, many of the game’s set-piece sequences ignore comfort best practices, frequently subjecting the player to tilting horizons, smooth turning, roller-coaster motions, and occasionally craning your neck in uncomfortable ways.

While it’s arguably good that the game warns players that certain sequences will include intense motion and offers the option to skip, it’s a shame than seemingly 10–20% of the game is made up of these sequences, many of which will be nausea-inducing to those which are sensitive to virtual motion. What’s more, skipping the sequences can sometimes mean missing the conclusion of a mission, resulting in an unceremonious return to HQ with no explanation of what happened.

The game also uses a ‘face-scope’ approach to sniper scopes, which blacks out your peripheral vision and draws a zoomed view onto your face. The view through the scope has tons of latency and also poor image quality, making sniper rifles largely a nuisance to use.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall
5

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • benz145

    Thanks for reading our review! Please note the following before commenting so that we can have a thoughtful discussion:

    • We scored this game 5/10 – ‘OK’ by our linear scale.

    • Even if the text of the review focuses more on critique than praise, or vice versa, the score aims to boil down the reviewer’s overall opinion of the experience.

    • If you haven’t played the game, understand the limits of your knowledge.

    • If you have played part of the game, your experience may differ from those who have completed it in its entirety.

    • Road to VR does not ever accept payment for reviews or any editorial content.

  • blue5peed

    I can already see the board meetings at EA; “We tried making AAA VR games but they didn’t sell” They never think that maybe their game sucked they will probably blame VR as not being a serious platform for core gamers or something along those lines if this doesn’t sell. Reminds me of LA noire and DOOM VFR all half-hearted attempts from big studios.

    I think its very sad when these big studios don’t seize the day so far only only a handful of AAA studios have delivered anything worthwhile. Ready at Dawn delivered Lone Echo in 2017! just compare the quality of Lone Echo to this game that came out late 2020. In VR mechanics, writing, even visuals Lone Echo is head and shoulders above. Things should be getting better not worse.

    • CMoney

      It seems like the creative directors at many triple AAA studios need to spend much more time playing VR games to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. The top rated VR games on Steam for example probably have some key elements in common.

      Heck, EA and others could pay their studio execs to play VR games and it would still be worthwhile.

      • Oli Norwell

        The object selection problems discussed in the article are a perfect example. Anyone who’s played 10+ hours of VR knows how irritating it is if you either can’t pick up an object you previously could, or it’s really tricky to pick items up, so you spend ages fiddling around with them.

      • h4rr4r

        They have creative directors?
        Then why do they release the same games every year?

    • Shea

      Personally I would love if those corporate behemoths just stay in their money obsessed lanes and let the smaller boundary pushing creatives do their thing and lead the way in VR.

    • Oli Norwell

      You’re right, I wish I could give a positive alternate view, but I don’t think there is one. If this games bombs, then yeah, EA aren’t gonna be funding many more AAA VR games. In a world where you can count AAA VR games with your fingers, that’s a problem.

      • I wouldn’t be too worried about it. For one, EA didn’t fund MoH, Facebook did. It doesn’t take a genius to see Respawn miscarried this one. Every studio that wants to get into VR is going to go through some growing pains unfortunately. Secondly the MoH franchise has a long history of mediocre games. As disappointing as this game is, it is kind of par for the franchise. Hopefully Respawn gets another chance with VR now that their feet are wet.

        Just as a counter example, Star Wars Squadrons received glowing praise for its VR support and that game was funded by EA.

        • Tigerman

          Facebook funded games are Oculus exclusive, why they should release it on Steam ?

          • I imagine there’s a fair amount to consider when choosing when and where to release a game. Just my own speculation, but given the reliance on multiplayer, they probably thought it best to release on both platforms simultaneously to make sure the lobbies stay full. It could also be Respawn had enough clout to force Facebook’s hand. It’s also possible that this is an indication of Facebook losing interest in pursuing PCVR as a long term platform.
            This isn’t the first Facebook funded VR game to release on Steam. Killing Floor: Incursion and Giant Cop come to mind as examples, but they are the exception not the rule.

        • Totius

          I would not call mediocre the first MoH games, expecially AA. They paved the way to the Call of Duty franchise

          • h4rr4r

            So they paved the way for an even more mediocre franchise?

          • Totius

            Which war game franchise is non-mediocre?
            They are the best available, of course they could do better, but that is what we have in the market.
            Anyway.. I tried yesterday the game.. it is decent, a lot of work was put into this, but the Disney style is not what I would have choose.. also.. the gap from this game and any modern call of duty, graphically, is just insane. Nevertheless, it is VR.. it is still much better playing this game than any other flat game.

          • h4rr4r

            Ghost recon was, until they dumbed it down into another arcade shooter.

            Sniper elite maybe? Unless you can now survive hundreds of bullets in that too.

  • shea

    And yes, even ‘give them a thumbs up to continue’.

    Do you mean to tell me this game has discovered the “press F to pay respects” of VR?

  • VR5

    Disappointing. Might still get this somewhere down the line but the next PCVR shooter I’m buying will probably be Vertigo 2 now.

  • Lulu Vi Britannia

    Ok, so this game clearly wasn’t developed with VR in mind. That just sucks.
    Although, I’m ok with the “nausea-inducing” sequences. If we didn’t do things that COULD make people sick, we’d have no VR game at all.

    But it doesn’t justiy any of the other flaws. The scope, the few number of weapons (it doesn’t even have more than Onward and Pavlov?!!!), the long loading times, those are deal-breaking to me.

    • Ad

      Pavlov’s world war 2 update alone should have more than double the number of guns.

    • Oli Norwell

      To be fair I’m gonna give them a pass on the “nausea-inducing” sequences. So many VR titles get crticised for being by default a point a click adventure, it’s bold and interesting to finally see one that goes for full locomotion from the off.

      • DanDei

        YES!
        Not every rollercoaster needs to be suitable for everyone. Same goes for VR games.

      • Gonzax

        Agreed! That is not a flaw at all IMO. I always like those sequences and I don’t want them to be simpler just because some people can’t stomach stuff like that.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Well, it was developed from the ground up for VR….. But I guess the developers had a different look at VR than a lot of other people do.. Personally I wouldn’t have choosen a ‘realistic’ weapon handling, but more an arcade one like many VR games have.
      Don’t count on it getting a “non-VR version”.

  • Ad

    You were clearly paid by the forces of nihilism.

    The game also uses a ‘face-scope’ approach to sniper scopes, which blacks out your peripheral vision and draws a zoomed view onto your face. The view through the scope has tons of latency and also poor image quality, making sniper rifles largely a nuisance to use.

    So the worst of both worlds?

    This is all quite sad. A really immersive world war 2 experience had massive potential. Pavlov to the rescue I guess.

  • kuhpunkt

    Oof.

  • Bumpy

    Right, so nothing is worthy of this crazy 170Gig install size. Pass.

  • wheeler

    Well, now we know why they put it on Steam. This makes PCVR look bad.

  • Leonardo

    what did you expect from ea…

    • Mrflappywilly

      More squadrons… which was awesome.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      EA has a lot of great games, the previous Medal of Honor games are excellent, and the battlefield games are also great..

  • Dmacell

    Hopefully it entertains me for 8 hours without making me hurl like the vehicles in borderlands vr did. Although because of its size it wont have a long life in my local game collection.

  • Mick Cordero

    Smooth locomotion feels like rolling around in a electric wheelchair in games.

    I would have preferred teleportation a thousand times

    • Skippy76

      Teleportation just SUCKS in military FPS games..
      it’s total immersion breaker when your screen blips all the time as you teleport yourself around the maps

    • Bob

      Teleportation is significantly more immersion breaking than smooth locomotion because if you’re not already fully aware; instantly translating yourself from one point to another isn’t a possibility in our physics based reality.

      • wowgivemeabreak

        Neither is gliding around like a ghost as I am standing still in our “physics based reality” which is how smooth locomotion feels.

        I find smooth locomotion far more immersion breaking that teleporting.

        • Lulu Vi Britannia

          “Gliding around” actually exists. Teleportation doesn’t.
          Immersion is about giving REAL sensations. Teleportation is much more immersion breaking. Doesn’t mean you have to prefer smooth locomotion, but objectively, teleporting is not immersive.

          • benz145

            Immersion is complex. I think you and the others are all right.

            Teleportation is less immersive (than real life) because it doesn’t offer as much visual consistency with your movement.

            But smooth motion is less immersive (than real life) because it doesn’t offer as much proprioceptive consistency with your movement.

            It’s subjective which of the two is more immersive than the other, depending (likely) on each individual’s unique perceptual leanings.

            That said, the game design matters too. A game which uses teleportation but expects the player to do it constantly will be less immersive than one that expects infrequent teleportation with lots of interaction between.

    • Gonzax

      Hell no, I’d rather shoot myself than play MoH with teleport.

  • Skippy76

    I bet you EA is going to blame VR gamers and treat them as whiners!!
    I absolutely knew without a doubt that this game was going to be a flop even though I was majorly hyped!! I got goosebumps watching all the teasers and hearing the MOHAA music… but deep down knew that I was going to be majorly disappointed!! $80cad for what was supposed to be a AAA game from a AAA studio..

    1- REMOVE those stupid Victory splash screens!! totally immersion breaker!!
    2- Optimize the damn game to run on a 1080ti!! Half Life Alyx runs butter smooth and looks WAY better!!!
    3- Have ACTUAL VR players test the game before launch!! Any Onward or Contractors players with a couple 100 hours would do a better job than whoever was hired for this project!!
    4- WTF is with the 2D scope?? how the hell did that pass QA???

    How can they justify $80 for such a piece of garbage?? Onward cost me $20 and has given me 3+ years of fun and is consistently getting better!

    • James Cobalt

      I think these are mostly good points. But regarding 4 – the scope is 2D in real life. It’s not binocular. That’s just how this kind of scope worked in real life (and most scopes, for that matter). The issues are more so with its control rather than it being monocular.
      As an aside, regarding Onward – Steam reviews suggest it’s not consistently gotten better, but very, very, very inconsistently. New reviews are still about 40% negative nearly 6 months after the big 1.8 patch rolled everything back to 1998.

    • Zachary Scott Dickerson

      ^^^ this times 1000

    • gothicvillas

      Because they wanted “all inclusive” (easy and accessible) garbage to shovel down our throats

  • wowgivemeabreak

    Expect more of this as VR goes more mainstream and companies like EA and Activision get involved.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Don’t know what you’re talking about, but a lot of EA games are just good..

    • Pablo C

      AC Odissey disagrees

  • Gonzax

    5 out of 10!!! well, since I usually agree with Road to VR’s reviews this is really harsh to read. My game is still downloading which is taking forever with a gigabyte connection, I don’t know what the hell is wrong with Steam downloads lately but they take forever.

    I really don’t mind the on-rail scenes done that way, it’s a full locomotion game, perhaps not ideal for everyone but for those of us who don’t get sick it’s good to be able to enjoy those moments without having the motion dumbed down to not get sick.

    Some things like some objects not being grabbable, the scopes or some other details just look like minor annoyances to me, I don’t think they will bother me much. The size of the missions is the only thing that gets me worried, that and the inability, or so I read, to move and look sideways at the same time (only head steering and not controller steering).

    I’ve lowered my expectations a lot after so many negative previews and reviews but I think I will still enjoy it, I hope so.

    Good and honest review, by the way. Congrats.

    • shadow9d9

      All you are doing is financially support garbage games. The way to teach studios not to release crap is to not support them. That is the whole point of reviews.

      • Gonzax

        Well, If you don’t mind I’ll be the judge of that. Reviews are fine but they’re just somebody’s opinion. I prefer to give it a try myself and then decide whether the game is worth buying or not.

        • Alexisms

          You can’t go around using logic & reason. This is the internet!!!

          • Gonzax

            Yeah, so true.

      • Patrick

        I’m so glad that i didn’t listen to all this negative reviews. Im pretty sure most of them played the game before the patches and not longer than 3-4 hours. The game gets better and better until the end. For me MoH is one of the best 3 VR Games of 2020.

        • Baldrickk

          One of the best three?
          So which of Boneworks, Alyx, Squadrons, Saints and Sinners does it smash?
          I mean, there are more better games too, but you already need to beat two of those to make it into a prospective top three.

          The game doesn’t improve towards the end.
          Some of the jankiest stuff happens in the latter stages of the game, up to and including massive glare from the sun blinding you the entire last section of the game Vs the tank, and a whole row of enemies spawning out of thin air, right in front of you during the on rails finale…

          The interactions remain gobshite, the game still treats the player like they’ve had a lobotomy, and the AI is still completely brain-dead and suicidal.

          Bugs like dead enemies remaining standing, sliding around in a fixed pose or going flying through the air and your gun refusing to fire because you’re within a metre of the nearest solid surface (poor collision detection hitboxes) persist all the way through the game and don’t get any better either.

  • Roger Bentley

    Its not VR that sucks EA or what ever publisher that says it does, its your games that suck, explain how you have a budget like this and a game like Vertigo remastered for me will always be remembered for its originality and game play and that originally was one young man that made that game???? not a multi billion dollar company the likes of EA and Facebook.

  • Mrflappywilly

    People are defending this massively on steam as well. lol

  • JesperL

    CRAP – I had high hopes.
    Any chance some of it can be fixed and improved?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      That’s always possible ofcourse, but the question will be, will they do it? I doubt they will..

  • Zachary Scott Dickerson

    why can’t they learn from other Indie developers? Pavlov/Onward and make it a tad more user friendly. LAZY LAZY sniper scope just like Fallout VR that I refuse to play for that one issue.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    8 hours for the single player game with a pricetag of $60 is just way to small, for $60 I expect at least 16 hours and more.. I don’t really care for Multiplayer..
    So I’ll wait until it’s much cheaper and hopefully cleaned up the bugs..

  • Jonathan Winters III

    A fantastic game, actually – keep in mind that VR games don’t have the budget of pancake titles so don’t expect 100% perfection. Scathing reviews like this only harm and diminish the fledgling VR ecosystem. Patches will resolve many outstanding issues, as they do in any game release.

    • benz145

      Juicing reviews for the sake of the VR industry would only harm it in the long run. Reviews like this one are about helping customers understand if they want to purchase a particular game and not for the benefit of anyone else.

    • shadow9d9

      Bad games harm VR. Praising bad games and then having new VR players play these fake great games and being hugely disappointed and abandoning VR would be bad. Lying about a game’s value is a TERRIBLE and also ludicrous idea. Patches cannot fix this game, as the problem is in the structure and design.

  • Pablo C

    To think that Alyx costs 30. You gotta love Valve.

  • OMG, one of the most awaited games of the year completely roasted

  • Gonzax

    I couldn’t disagree more with all of these reviews. I’m
    on mission 4 right now after 7 and a half hours and except for the
    first hour of the game with the constant interruptions, which is, admittedly, very mediocre, the rest of the game is amazing.

    I’m having a blast playing through it. Once it opens up, the game is absolutely brilliant. My favorite this year along with Alyx and Saints and Sinners.

  • duked

    Such a shame on what could have been a great game. HL: Alyx showed how AAA should be done.

  • Andrew McEvoy

    Yes its no HL:A but after the first sluggish mission, I think its very entertaining. A bit like how I felt playing the first MoH games. Im playing it slowly in anticipation of a few more updates and then Im going to play it through again after a while on hard mode, like the good ol’ days ;)

  • patfish

    I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to all that negative reviews. I played the game after the first patches, and after 3 hours the game gets better and better and I really enjoying it. I have no idea which perfect AAA PC VR Title all this people have played in 2020? :D… For me MOH is clearly the Nr 3. PC VR Game (after HL and SW:Squadrons) of this year. It’s by far not a perfect VR Game but there was not too much of an completion in 2020.