The Sony PSVR will be a whole year old in a couple of months, probably. a good time to get back to launching some big and exciting titles to galvanise the user base. There have been a steady stream of games coming along, mostly Indie, but a few big hitters.
Until now nobody had really touch the Holy Grail of VR – a solid First Person Shooter and a game of decent length.
Not only do Sony come out swinging on both counts they also launch the Aim Controller to back it up. If you thought VR made you look dorky enough, then step this way and be pleasantly surprised.
Farpoint treads some well trodden ground, launching into one of many long winded cutscenes it sets you up as a pilot collecting Scientists from a remote Space Station. Of course things go wrong and it’s all up to you to fix the problem. Ok so far.
Cue a lumpy bumpy ride in a dropship and you are on the surface of a hostile planet, which soon becomes a corridor driven shooting gallery, albeit an immersive VR one.
Farpoint is all about the VR experience, once you’ve tinkered with the moving controls to reduce any motion related nausea its all good. The recipe is simple and familiar, travel from one end of the map to the other, fighting off a spread of ever increasing enemies as you go. Level design makes the game fit for purpose, there is a decent mix of tight spaces and open areas and often alien ambushes are well telegraphed. The main gripe from me, predictable encounters aside is the process of getting from A to B still feels off, walking is very smoothed out. Again it just seems to work better for the experience when you are in a vehicle of sorts rather than being on foot, I think if Farpoint was a ride in a buggy of sorts it would feel better. That’s just me. I keep going backk to Rush of Blood which was as ‘on-rails’ as you can get,but it worked really well.
However, the immersion level is terrific, my first couple of hours proved to have a few sweaty moments, especially when the mini ‘all-teeth and agression’ ground spiders started leaping at me. It is safe to admit I may have jumped or possibly shrieked a couple of times.
That immersion is also made a heap better by the introduction of the Aim Controller, it has to be said Sony make really nice peripherals and the Aim is no exception. From a distance it may look like a bent up piece of plumbers pipe. Up close it is sleek, lightweight and fully functional as a PS4 controller – forgiving the touchpad of course.
Buttons are in perfect position and the setup works well for each hand preference, triggers are perfectly placed and face buttons are set around twin sticks both of which are nicely placed for your thumbs. Tracking is really good and the controller just feels right in your hands, its easy to grasp the concept straight off. Lifting your weapon up and turning it round for a better view feels natural.
Something that I really didn’t expect and found a joy to use was being able to look down the sight. Raise the Aim up to your virtual eyes and the holographic sight focused in. Really intuitive and really clever. My next favourite thing was the weapon swap, raising the Aim up to your shoulder mimicking the act of pulling another weapon from your back, again immersive and intuitive, again a big thumbs up.
Moving around the game space with the Aim really adds to the level of enjoyment for the game, Farpoint is a game that you need to stand up for. The active zone for the controllers is nicely displayed when needed, however when things got a bit busy I often found myself facing the wrong direction or getting tangled up in my cables. I also found the tension generated from a prolonged session left me with some tired shoulders later on.
All this aside, the Aim makes you feel like an intergalactic badass. Sniping from a distance, launching grenades and making snapshots like never before. It works well and bodes well for the future. The sound helps too, hearing a creature skittering past you can be a freaky moment in the quietest of times and blind firing by actually holding your weapon out or around some cover is just everything VR should be about.
I would absolutely recommend Farpoint as a VR game, it is raising the bar, but I would also say it is essential to get it with the Aim Controller. I for one am really excited to see where the technology goes in the next twelve months.
Farpoint may not be the Holy Grail of VR FPS on the platform, but it’s safe to say we are well and truly in Camelot so that Grail really isn’t far away.