Pavlov VR review – PSVR2’s best shooter

Vankrupt Games has brought the simulated shooting expertise of Pavlov VR to the new and improved PSVR2 and it's one of the best experiences yet.

Pavlov VR PSVR2 review: A soldier wearing a black balaclava under a helmet rushes forward in the snow with an AK47

When Vankrupt Games brought Pavlov to PC VR back in 2017, it set a new standard for virtual gun simulation and online multiplayer on the platform, one that hasn’t been surpassed since. Pavlov VR translates the tactical intricacy of intense keyboard-and-mouse shooters like Counter-Strike and Valorant into the tactile medium of virtual reality. The PSVR2 port is a fully-featured adaptation that elevates all of the game’s best features.

Beyond the subtle headset rumble that reacts to gunfire and the high-fidelity visuals, the most compelling aspect of Pavlov VR’s PSVR2 port is that it’s the most consumer-friendly, pick-up-and-play version of a terrific game. It’s a fantastic choice for PSVR2 owners who are looking for a competitive FPS experience in virtual reality.

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There are still a couple of things missing from this version that you get on PC, like dedicated servers and custom mods, but fans of hardcore shooters are still going to get hundreds of hours of fun from Pavlov’s PSVR2 port with its current lineup of maps and a generous amount of modes. There’s nothing quite like the tension of physically tapping in a code to defuse the bomb in Search and Destroy, and Pavlov’s PSVR2 design elevates that.

And when you’re bored of the high-stakes gameplay that Search and Destroy offers, you can put your best John Wick impression to the test in Gun Game, or lie, cheat and steal your way to success in Trouble in Terrorist Town. If you’re unfamiliar, TTT is a more advanced take on Among Us, with innocents, traitors, detectives, and plenty of guns to get deceptive with.

Pavlov VR has always been a game hailed by Counter-Strike veterans, but what if you’re a curious newbie looking for a popular shooter to test out the capabilities of your brand-new headset? Well, Pavlov VR on PSVR2 is still a fine choice and a rewarding investment, but there are some things to bear in mind. Pavlov is a looker on the PSVR2 with its crisp textures and 120 FPS fluidity, but it’s also like being thrown into the deep end of the pool if you’re new to VR. Pavlov’s control system involves moving and turning with the left and right analogue sticks, which can already be overwhelming if you haven’t got your VR legs. On top of that, you’re going to be constantly looking around, weaving and squinting to spot threats and make shots.

Pavlov VR PSVR2 review: A player aims a pistol at another player down the hallway in Pavlov VR on PSVR2

The intricacy of the controls is no joke, either. Even after many hours with the game across multiple VR platforms, I often mess up a reload in the middle of a firefight and get myself killed. Unlike more hand-holdy arcade shooters, Pavlov is all about realism, so you’ll be taking the mag off, grabbing a new one, slotting it in, and then priming your gun with another gesture before you can shoot it, alternating between grip and trigger inputs. Accessories like sidearms, grenades, knives and attachments can all be attached and detached via your simulated vest, so you’ll constantly be reaching around your torso for the right item, which can lead to some fun but deadly mistakes.

So, it’s fair to say that Pavlov is an active experience in PSVR2, and while there’s nothing on our best PSVR2 games list that comes close to its FPS action, I still get a little motion sick every now and then playing it. Your mileage may vary, but this is generally par for the course with this kind of VR experience due to its speed and intensity.

The best thing you can do to combat it is stop as soon as you get a nauseous feeling, and take a break. Crucially though, you need to keep coming back when you recover until you can play for longer. It sounds daunting, but the good news is that Pavlov actively wants players to train up and get comfortable. The options menu features a movement vignette option and even a virtual stock to help with your gun handling. There’s also a comprehensive training course to ensure you’re familiar with the controls and solid bot integration so you can hone your skills offline before you take on other humans.

With over 65 weapons in the game, and a whole host of attachments, there’s a lot to get used to, but it’s a rewarding challenge. Once you find your feet, jumping in for a few games of Team Deathmatch is an absolute thrill ride thanks to the atmospheric sound design and intricate level architecture.

Over time, you’ll begin to familiarise yourself with the profile of your favourite guns, including their spray pattern and recoil. The PSVR2 Sense Controllers allow for adaptive trigger profiles across different weapons, which brings another awesome layer of weight and presence to the shooting. Figuring out how to effectively pull off a headshot at range is delightful, and the upper limits of the gesture simulation allow for plenty of ingenuity. You can take the mag out of an opponent’s gun if you’re sneaky and lob your knife when you’re out of ammo to get cheeky last-dash kills. And when you’re looking to take a break from the frenetic 1v1s, you can hop into the fleshed-out Zombies mode and try to survive the hordes in co-op, if you dare.

As well as the consistent controller rumble, the PSVR2’s unique Headset Rumble is leveraged to great effect in Pavlov. You’ll feel subtle and not-so-subtle vibrations as shots whizz past your ears or hurtle towards the centre of your skull. It’s exhilarating and maybe even a little ‘too real’ at times, but it sure does elevate the immersion.

Pavlov VR PSVR2 review: Two players in a vbibrant village open fire in a square

If you’re thinking about the replayability element, then it’s worth noting that Pavlov is also one of the most popular VR multiplayer games, with crossplay integrated into PSVR2 to bump up its servers. This means you’re not going to struggle for matches, at least in the short term. There have already been updates and hotfixes from the developers addressing the needs of the PSVR2 community, too, which is a promising sign for its future.

Hopefully, Vankrupt can convince Sony to allow mods on PSVR2, as this is the main thing missing at present. It’s a bit of a pipe dream, but I have fond memories of playing Call of Duty Zombies recreations on PC, as well as deathmatches on Dust II and Rust, as well as more absurd environments like Outset Island from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

‘Counter-Strike in virtual reality’ is one hell of a proposal, but Vankrupt Games pulls it off with best-in-class weapon simulation and a generous suite of server-based online multiplayer tools. If you’re looking for the best FPS to pick up for the PlayStation VR 2, the obvious choice is Pavlov VR.

Our Verdict


The most realistic VR shooter on the market, Pavlov VR is a must-have for headset-toting Dust II veterans and a rewarding investment for curious newbies. It feels particularly elevated on the PSVR2 thanks to the clever implementation of headset rumble and adaptive trigger profiles.