The Most Interesting Games of PSX 2015: EVE: Valkyrie
At this year's PlayStation Experience, Sony and other game companies showed off tons of upcoming games for the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation VR, and even the Vita. But as we all know, not all games are created equal. Here's a hands-on preview of one of the five games from the show that I found most interesting.
As someone who saw the original Battlestar Galactica movie when it aired on ABC in 1978, I've wanted to dogfight in space since I was — six plus two, carry the one — ten years old. But while a lack of both technology and physical fitness will probably prevent this from ever happening for real, I may have found the next best thing with EVE: Valkyrie, a space-based dogfighting game that CCP are making as a launch title for the PlayStation VR (and the Oculus VR, but don't tell the Sony peeps I told you that).
"EVE: Valkyrie is a competitive, multiplayer, team-based space combat shooter that was built from the ground up for VR," explains Ryan Geddes, CCP's Global Brand Director. "It's all about being in the pilot's seat of a starfighter that's launching out of a carrier and being in the heat of battle."
That basically explains it all. After putting on the PlayStation VR goggles and a set of headphones, I used the PS4's controller to fly a ship into space, where I took on a squad of enemy fighters until some Death Star-looking ship warped into the area and blew me into tiny little pieces. But while the gameplay was reminiscent of many other space dogfighting games, like the kind we used to get for Star Wars all time, the VR goggles — coupled with a cockpit that had numerous windows — made it feel like I was flying in space, weaving in and out of larger ships as I tried to blast my enemies to pieces.
Helping me survive this battle was my very capable ship, a member of the Fighter class. "There are three different ship types," Geddes says, "the Fighter, the Heavy, and the Support. And each have two kinds of weapons. The Fighter, for instance, has a Gatling gun mounted on the front, and when you pull the right trigger, it shoots wherever your ship is pointed. But you also have a guided missile, which you use by holding down the left trigger and then aiming by moving your head. Then, when you've locked on a ship, you release the left trigger to launch the missiles.
"But the Heavy ship has different weapons," he continues. "With that ship, it moves much, much shower, but you have powerful gun that shoots wherever you're looking, while the left trigger is a micro warp that sends you flying."
PVP and PVE
While the mode I played at PSX, "Convoy," was a solo one, the game is, as Geddes noted earlier, primarily made for those who play well with others. "At launch," he says, "we're going to have two PVP modes — 'Team Deathmatch,' which everybody knows and loves, and 'Control,' in which you have to control two points — and we'll have more later.
"But we're also going to have some PVE modes," he adds. "Along with the one you just played, we'll also have a 'Survival' mode in which you or you and your friends fight increasingly difficult waves of fighters, as well as a mode called 'Scout,' in which you can just fly around and see what's out there. It's funny, the first thing everyone wants to do with VR is just fly around, looking at stuff."
As for how many Ps there will be in those PVP and PVE matches, Geddes admits, "We haven't announced anything yet, mainly because we're still testing to see what works best. Though here at the show we have 5v5."
While five-on-five may seem like a good number to some people, fans of the EVE MMO might feel it's a little light. Especially since the first "M" in "MMO" stands for "Massively" and not just "Many." But as Geddes explains, while EVE: Valerie is set as the same fictional time as the MMO, "it's not connected to EVE on the server or anything, it's a stand-alone game."
So what was like playing EVE: Valkyrie with the PlayStation VR system? Well, truth be told, it seems like the game would still be fun without it. Flying around space, getting into it with other ships, the game felt like a really great space shooter. The controls worked well, the enemies actually tried not to get hit, and having to do battle while weaving in and out of other, larger ships gave these fights a real sense of urgency.
But while playing the game in VR may not have made the game more fun, it still added something. And not just when I stared down an enemy and then hit them with a missile. By giving me a fully-immersive view of space, it made me feel like I was flying up, down, and around (and not, I'd like to point out, in a lose-my-lunch kind of way). It also made the game feel bigger, more grand, and more epic.
As cool as EVE: Valkyrie may be (and it really was cool), I do have to admit that it didn't make me feel like I'd joined the cast of Battlestar Galactica from the '70s. But that's not because it didn't feel like I was flying through space (it did), or because it didn't make me feel like I was dogfighting with enemy ships as I tried not to crash into much larger craft (it did this, too). No, it's because, well, I'll let Geddes explain:
"You play as one of the Valkyrie, who are a breakaway faction from the Guristas pirate faction, and their main leader, Rán Kavik, is played by Katee Sackhoff."
Y'know, the woman who played Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica from 2004.
I guess my inner kid can't have it all.
EVE: Valkyrie will be a launch title for the PlayStation VR.