‘Battlezone’ Revives an Atari Classic in VR

Michael Grimm

There was a time long ago when if you said “you know, the tank game” people would have meant Battlezone and not World of Tanks. For those unfamiliar (or under 40), Battlezone was a 1980 Atari first person tank combat game that used vector graphics and a special periscope viewfinder. This new version sticks close to the core of the original, though there are new types of enemies, procedurally generated single-player content, and did we mention it’s a VR game?

As with a lot of other VR games, the cockpit setup is convenient as it restricts player movement in a way that doesn’t feel artificial. Looking around in the cockpit showed all the details you’d expect; switches, pedals, and toggles make you feel like you’re in a tank without feeling claustrophobic. There was even a little screen with a streaming news feed on the right. The HUD was clear enough, with the health bar integrated into the canopy, though the ammo counter was small and easy to miss in the heat of battle.


The actual combat against tanks felt brisk and fun, and plugging an enemy with a shell after careful aiming always felt good. Given the constant movement of you and your enemies, leading your targets was essential and the canon had enough shot drop for it to be a factor as well.

You will face off against more than just tanks in Battlezone.

The bright neon Tron visuals were a nice touch, making it easy to identify the red enemies against the more neutral colored levels. While there were obviously tank enemies, we also encountered flying enemies, turrets, and a large enemy called the Swarm, which flew around and will apparently disable the player’s radar when in proximity.

The Battlezone environments are straight out of Tron.

Battlezone had a solid visual look and played well, though like many of the early VR games we’ve seen, what was on display seemed a little light in the content department. Hopefully, the additional tanks and procedurally generated single player mode will add some depth. Battlezone will launch alongside PlayStation VR October 13 this year.

We got the chance to speak with Battlezone Lead Designer Steven Bristow at E3. Here is what he had to say about the game.

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Michael Grimm
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