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Review: Arizona Sunshine 2 is decent zombie survival fun at an apocalyptic price

Does the dog die in Arizona Sunshine 2? I'll never tell!

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

Arizona Sunshine 2

Developer: Vertigo Games Publisher: Vertigo Games

Release Date: 12/5/2023

Review Score: 7

Quick Verdict:

Arizona Sunshine 2 is a fun, yet expensive game that really captures the joys of doggos and excitement of shooting zombies.


  • Buddy is awesome.

  • Shooting and loading guns is, well, a blast.

  • Melee weapons!!!

  • The serious moments peppered in and the big plot twist.

  • Just about everything with audio.


  • Game-breaking visual glitches and occasional bland textures

  • The constant barrage of less-than-funny jokes from our MC.

  • The price, oh my god the price.

  • The ending will not give any sense of satisfaction.

  • The flamethrower

Reviewer played Arizona Sunshine 2 on Meta Quest 3. A key was provided by the publisher.

Arizona Sunshine 2 is available on Steam, Meta Quest, and PlayStation 5.

Arizona Sunshine 2 is the first (of likely many) VR reviews I’ve ever tackled. While I’ve personally written plenty of reviews, I fired up my Meta Quest 3 and decided to jump right in.

Arizona Sunshine 2 checks some boxes for me on paper. I love first-person shooters, I’m a big fan of German Shepherd dogs, and I’ve been looking for a fully-fleshed-out experience for the new Quest 3. Did Arizona Sunshine 2 accomplish all that and then some? Well, let's dive in.

No man is an island

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

In Arizona Sunshine 2, you play as an unnamed zombie apocalypse survivor. In this one, the zombies are called “Freds”. Our hero has been on his own for a bit when we first jump into the game.

The start was a little jarring because it certainly took me a bit to get the hang of the controls without much of a tutorial. After initial target practice, our hero muses briefly about using the gun to end his loneliness before a bunch of freds come wandering in and a helicopter comes crashing in.

After trying to save the pilot and learning that the sole survivor is the trained German Shepherd on board. You bond with the dog and the real fun starts.

If there was anything that Arizona Sunshine 2 does that is unique in the Zombie Shooter genre, it has to be Buddy the Dog. Buddy serves as a companion for most of the adventure, taking out freds for you, grabbing ammo, and just being a generally good boy overall.

Our hero finds solace in having something around him that isn’t trying to kill him. In a way, it’s a little adorable.

Our hero soon learns that the military believes they can make a cure by capturing "Patient Zero" and using them to manufacture the cure. Our hero considers this knowledge an opportunity not just to save the day, but instead be linked back up civilization.

From this point forward, finding patient zero and getting rescued is a mad dash. Of course, it isn’t an easy trip though, with all those freds along the way.

Bringing guns to the bite fight.

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

One of the first things I learned about Arizona Sunshine 2 is that there is never any shortage of weapons and ways to kill freds. Sure, freds pose a real threat, with a few hits able to cut your adventure short, but our nameless hero and Buddy can wreck shop if your aim is on point.

Most freds can be dropped with a well-placed shot to the head. Those who don’t go down with one shot can at least be stunned, usually, and the beefy ones can be tied up with Buddy, allowing you to finish them off easily.

Looking back, I make it sound like you can casually stroll around, killing freds, but it’s much more complicated. Freds can be alerted to noise, so the louder your guns, the more you will need them.

Some more powerful guns can compensate for a center-mass shot, but you’ll have much more to worry about. One thing I especially enjoyed while killing freds was that each gun required a unique reload method.

I ran a sawed-off shotgun and a silenced pistol for a little bit. It was a blast to try to thin out a fred herd with careful shots with my pistol and then rely on Buddy and the shotgun to thin out any freds alerted.

Reloading guns is a mini-game in itself. Most handguns have you ejecting the clip, putting a new one in, and then racking the slide. Revolvers have you dumping your bullets, reloading with a loader, and then flicking your wrist to get the cylinder back in. Shotguns mostly are breach loading, so you have to put shells in on their own and snap the barrel back up.

Larger weapons, such as rifles, and specialty weapons (like grenade launchers and flame throwers) can't be reloaded quickly either. With 3 available weapons (and 2 holsters on Buddy), keeping a smart weapon selection on you is invaluable.

For those times when you can reload fast enough to keep a handful of quick freds away that are rushing you down, you can also keep up to 2 melee weapons on you.

There are both bludgeoning and cutting weapons. I’m unsure if it was my imagination, but the bludgeoning weapons tended to smash heads or knock down freds. Cutting weapons seemed to be able to lop off heads and limbs. After cutting off an arm or two, I could also use the appendage to play fetch with Buddy; what a good boy!

Buddy is the coup de gras to your arsenal outside of craftable weapons. Buddy can fetch your guns and ammo, take down Freds, and maul them to re-death.

You can use your controller to sic him on freds while you keep a safe distance. While there are some impervious freds, Buddy can help remove their armor so you can access all those soft juicy bits. Overall, Arizona Sunshine 2 would be a lot less fun without Buddy.

Fred’s dead, baby

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

Killing freds is easily the most fun in Arizona Sunshine 2. I finished the main campaign in under ten hours, with about 80% of that time being spent cutting down the undead. The other part of the game was finding new weapons, looking for unique collectibles, and stocking up on ammo for the next significant encounter. 

Those less tense moments allowed more time to flesh out the world and our hero’s loneliness. At one point, he remarks about missing smelling stranger’s farts and is excited later when Buddy farts on him.

At another point in the game, I found a pair of sunglasses that the hero remarked looked like a pair his mom owned. He then mused out loud that she was probably on a tropical island, soaking up the sun without knowing what he was going through. I took this as these shades might have been hers, and his delusion covered pain.

Some of the more quiet moments also have puzzles to solve. Were they necessarily hard? No, they were not. Were they a nice break after a hectic run of fending off freds and doing my best not to get eaten? You better believe it! It also allowed me to play with guns and find setups I enjoyed.

There is also a hoard mode that I spent about an hour fiddling around in. It seemed more like an afterthought, as there is one map, and wasn’t super fun.

Sure, it was straightforward fred slaughter, but it wasn’t satisfying in single-player or with a group. Especially since the more people I played with, the more they seemed to serve as a distraction while fending off waves of the undead.

Sounds of the dead

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

One thing that stood out to me while playing Arizona Sunshine is the audio for the game. Generally speaking, most music is a light ambiance that swells in moments of combat or also helps warn when a significant encounter is coming.

I can tell you that the second-most harrowing moment in the game is when I shoot a fred, just to start hearing music begin to build. It was a certified “Oh no!” moment every time.

On top of that, the top pants-soiling moment easily belongs to every moment I thought I was deftly killing freds, only to hear the wheezing of an angry fred directly behind me.

Overall, for my first VR game, Arizona Sunshine 2 impressed me with the sound design. Guns sounded impressive for the most part. The satisfying squelch of a melee weapon getting lodged in a head just to burst into a crunchy shower of viscera never got old, either. 

I was bothered quite often when Buddy would whine or whimper. Not because it sounded terrible, but because he doesn’t sound much different from my old German Shepherds. It immensely enhanced the realism to hear him growl at sneakier threats or bark wildly as we dealt with waves of shambling dead. 

Does Arizona Sunshine 2 do enough to stand on its own?

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

As my first real VR game that I’ve sat through from start to finish, I enjoyed Arizona Sunshine 2. While it was fun, it’s also worth pointing out that there are considerable drawbacks too.

The cost of Arizona Sunshine 2 is pretty hefty. At $60, you could get a lot more game for your money. In fact, I was surprised at the abrupt ending and lack of replayability in this era of more expensive but longer-lasting games. I can’t wholly recommend this at full price.

Some technical issues plagued my playthrough as well. Anytime climbing puzzles were in the game, I had a constant issue where my vision turned black. It seemingly has something to do with my height.

I’d end up falling or having to start over as I essentially was blinded. I fiddled with settings and options to no avail but then found that when I started recording climbing sequences internally, it stopped happening. That meant I had to switch on the Meta recording option whenever I saw the telltale signs of a pending climb.

The story was well written and had a reasonably unexpected twist that started slowly and then came at me hard. The quips from our hero, though, were anywhere from somewhat funny to downright cringe.

Yeah, I chuckled when he waxed poetic about an airport not being the same without a TSA agent caressing his penis with the back of their hand, but the constant yapping and lowbrow jokes eventually wore me down.

By the time I reached the end of the game, our hero's last line got me groaning and taking off my headset. There were probably a few expletives, too.

Arizona Sunshine 2 final verdict

Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2
Image: Vertigo Games / Arizona Sunshine 2

I don’t think that Arizona Sunshine 2 is a bad game, and if it were a little cheaper, I’d say this is probably a must-have game for any VR enthusiast. It has a lot of great ideas that are executed well, but then it seems to fall into tired tropes and cliche gameplay elements that make it feel more like “just a VR game” than a fully fleshed-out game. As the game is new and the original Arizona Sunshine was a VR staple, I expect more content as time passes.

For now, if you want a solid VR experience, Arizona Sunshine 2 fits that bill, but it’s a standard product at a premium price.

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