VR is an exciting thing, but it's also a video games thing, and that means for all the virtual possibilities – swimming with dolphins, piloting the Apollo 11 lunar lander, helping Lucan abscond – there's going to be a lot of games with shooting in them. Out of Ammo, as you've probably guessed, is one such game, and while it does have its moments, on the whole its early access tag, if not its price, is more than justified.
At its core Out of Ammo is a tabletop-style RTS/tower defence title, albeit one which enables players to leap into the heads of their troops, firing and reloading the weapons manually. It's not a great-looking game, akin to if Lone Soldier, Minecraft, and Cannon Fodder were the key inspirations, but its bright colours and stark, immersive geometry both dilute the violence and help establish the lay of the land: useful for picking out threats, of which there are many.
These threats – an attacking middle eastern force to your (presumably) NATO-inspired army, which may give some pause, particularly as all your enemies wear a keffiyeh and aren't identified beyond that – come in waves, with the idea being to position your forces and their defences in the most tactically advantageous positions between seemingly never-ending waves. A helicopter periodically arrives with new gear – towers, sandbags, mounted positions – but for the most part you're tasked with making good with what you've got.
Your enemies don't do much other than run straight at you, but the speed at which they attack, the numbers they amass, and the 360-degree nature of their onslaughts leads to tense encounters. It's seemingly simple stuff, but the use of VR is clever: the 'table' appears at waist height, with you in the middle, meaning you constantly have to adjust your feet to see where threats are coming from, keeping you literally at the center of the action. It also heightens the feeling of playing a 'real' strategy game: you have to reach down and place units and items on the board.
At its best, Out of Ammo is surprisingly engaging: the player is encouraged to spend a lot of time on the battlefield rather than merely observing it, and later waves will see you desperately taking out onrushing enemies, wheeling round to see where the next threat is coming from, before pulling back out to board view to hop to the next encounter. Its childlike presentation belies a strangely affecting sense of danger, particularly when faced with three or more enemies. Your vision blackens with each hit, and there's a real sense of 'death' fostered by the headset, as you gradually fade out of the soldier you're controlling.
In these moments Out of Ammo proves that RocketWerkz has got a good handle on first-person combat, and elsewhere it also shows that RTS/tower defence games can work in this environment. Sadly, it's also light on features and, as the developer admits on its Steam page, is a little clunky, with weapon reloads for the assault rifle (you have to simulate pulling a new magazine from your 'belt') being particularly spotty. There are four environments (jungle, urban, desert, and snow) and just five unit types (assault, sniper, medic, engineer, and rocket man), meaning you'll have seen most of what the game has to offer in about an hour. There's not enough here for casual players, but those who want to see how an RTS/FPS hybrid works will find plenty to think about.