SHORT REVIEW: PS4 VR
Interesting fact: Casually remark to a friend that seldom plays computer games “Hey, would you like to fly a spaceship?” the majority will say “no”. What is the world coming to!
Hey you, yes you! Would you like to fly a spaceship?
Of course it’s a yes!
EVE: Valkyrie is the first proper full priced VR game I’ve acquired. Is it worth such considerable expense or is this just another short “experience”?
I first tried EVE: Valkyrie a week before PSVR’s UK release. Sony put together a demo event to mostly drum up business and show off. I’d tried the Rift and Vive the week before and was eager to see how Sony’s attempt stacked up. I planned to test my Virtual limits; how unwell could I make myself with 5 minutes of fast-paced Virtual Reality. A short time later I appeared wobbly and dazed, but not sick to the core. I felt like I had taken a jet plane out for an upside-down test spin, which was kinda true, cos I barrel-rolled like an idiot for a good 4 of those 5 minutes.
Not a bad introduction to Sony VR.
Now I’ve got the full game in my grubby hands, how do I feel after an hour of barrel rolls?
Eve: Valkyrie will test you physically. Thanks to the power of deceiving your brain, you feel like you are sitting in a military grade starfighter, and even now, after a couple of weeks solid play, I still marvel at how well everything works. Some might feel terribly unwell as the nippier ships really shift, whilst others might experience dizziness after escaping the clutches of VR. I found after a couple of days I was able to stay virtual for far longer with less side-effects. Hah! Take that brain!
Saying that, there are plenty of times when I required a nice little break an’ a cup of tea. I’ve also found VR in general tends to tire and dry my eyes out. But that was after a good hours dedicated play with ludicrous feats. I think all fast-paced Virtual Reality game should supply a short demo or returns policy, because you’ll never know what it will do you.
Can you play VR with a hangover? Yes, you can. I don’t recommend doing anything with a hangover.
EVE: Valkyrie is an online only game. After learning the ropes with the first 2 tutorial missions away you go into the murky world of online gaming. Because this is an online multiplayer game we say hello to our old friend Mr Microtransctions. Great. That’s the two things I’m not very keen on, microtransactions that fundamentally corrupt base game design and online gaming.
The things I do to fly a spaceship.
Now all that’s out the way, what about the actual bloody game?
Sitting in the carrier waiting to be thrown into battle is pretty exciting. You look around the cockpit, and like most VR games you feel like you are sitting there. In fact sitting in things is the premium de-facto virtual experience. The controls are very simple and for a first generation Virtual Reality game, that’s not the worse idea ever. Your first ship’s highly manoeuvrable and capable of screeching to a halt with the press of a button. Very handy when carrying out your favourite asteroid hiding moments, less handy when keeping food down as my brain complained whilst staring down at that bloody asteroid. I can’t stress enough, you feel like you are flying a spacefighter!
Want to fire some missiles? Simply look around, pick your target and lock on. It may seem a bit gimmicky, but as you’re forever trying to get a bead on the location of the enemy, it feels pretty natural. You know what, sometimes gimmicks work.
EVE: Valkyrie’s greatest trick is to fool you into feeling like this is something new when ultimately the game is an update of those past gems of yesteryear, given a new lease of life by giving you the illusion of sitting in the cockpit.
As this isn’t the grand space adventure, the maps aren’t huge expansive things but suitable to getting 8 players into the fight as keenly as possible. For a game without a decent single player you’ll be forgiven for spitting out your tea when you realise we’ve only 4 maps to fly around in. Oh yes indeed sir, VR must insist on doing the bare minimum! Here ya go, be happy with the new technology, don’t ask questions and don’t compare to your none-Virtual Reality experiences. To the games credit each arena is visually interesting with debris to hide behind and interesting structures to gawk at. There’s talk of free downloadable content and it can’t come soon enough.
The battles themselves are restricted to your everyday normal deathmatch, capture points on a map or blowing up a carrier. Guess which one’s the best? Strafing the capital ships hardpoints, dodging carrier flak and other fighters… It doesn’t get much better then that. To the games credit I didn’t suffer any lag in matches, nor any of the annoyances that normally come with online gaming. It’s a smooth experience, at least in my case. If you’ve a flaky internet connect, I wouldn’t recommend you risk it at this price.
You like ships? We got all the ships! Small ships, big ships, smelly ships, support ships, hairy ships, legendary ships. Wait? Legendary ships? Smells like spending grubby real life cash to me. Hmm. By far the most fun to be had is with the quick fighters with missiles, but handling a support ship with a frickin’ laser is pretty fun. You’ll find your favourite, even if I didn’t enjoy sitting in a sitting-duck heavy fighter. Give me a sexy dogfighting machine, but hey, choice is good. Also beyond the 3 different classes, the additional ships to purchase are minor variations of the same theme. Think an upgraded heavy fighter, this time with countermeasures and a bigger shield. I think the game could have been just as good with 8 fighter craft with equal specs, but that just my personal preference, plus we’ve got to sell these lovely ship skins for some serious coin.
Much has been made of how VR games don’t look as sexy as your regular everyday games and that’s true. It’s also true regular games don’t strap your fucking head into a new world. EVE: Valkyrie looks fine if not a little blurry, I didn’t suffer any glitches or worrying moments as I moved my head around like my cat at dinnertime. Like all Playstation VR the textures aren’t overly sharp, but that didn’t bother me whilst I was swinging my ship inside the burnt out husk of an ex-carrier.
Going into EVE: Valkyrie with open eyes will be the difference between disappointment and joy.
Whilst it would be cruel to suggest Eve is a tech demo it does feel like the online component to a single player game I’d rather be playing. One of my biggest worries is in 8 months time I’ll return to Valkyrie to find it’s only populated by those insane people that play everyday, completely ruining my Luke Skywalker fantasies. Oh goody, I’ve died after 5 seconds again. Hmm, at least I’ll have the Players Vs AI mode to keep me going. I worry the games balance could be thrown off by some very special Legendary ships, superceding the broke-ass shit earned in game. My last worry is something better will come along and there would be no reason to return.
I’m finding it pretty hard to score Virtual Reality games as the technology wows me.
I’m flying a bloody spaceship dammit. I’m re-enacting my wildest fantasies, even if everything outside of sitting inside the cockpit is threadbare.
Scoring comes with some caveats. When Wing Commander VR comes out EVE: Valkyrie defaults to the score of 7. If the games balance tilts towards a pay to win model, and we’re are stuck with a handful of maps, EVE: Valkyrie becomes a 6… but for now….
Better flight sims will come along, but if you want to re-enact the fantasies you had as a child, this is a pretty classy way to do it.
Red 6 reporting in! *Crash*