Review: Eagle Flight (PSVR)

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Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Oculus Rift
  • HTC Vive

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • PlayStation Move None
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Title: Eagle Flight
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (3.35 GB)
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
This is one of the reasons why I jumped on the VR bandwagon. The ability to fly is something we’ve all dreamed of. Not fly within a vehicle, as that is relatively easy to achieve, rather free flight, like our avian neighbors.

I had anticipated that VR was going to make this possible. I didn’t expect for one of the early titles in the PlayStation VR’s release to make this a reality.

Eagle Flight has a free flight mode where you can freely explore the environment unhinged. Even with that mode alone the game manages to garner praise as it gives you the absolute freedom to fly above an abandoned Paris.

You can fly through the avenues and glide above rivers and under bridges. I spent quite some time just enjoying this mode before diving into the campaign.

That’s the fantastic thing about the experience, your ability to fly in VR has a purpose. The campaign centers around your surviving and existing as an eagle, from the moment of birth, to your first love.

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While most gameplay follows the “fly through rings” model, there is actual “dog fighting” here. You control your pitch and tilt with your head motion. In fact your own head is actually represented by the eagle’s head within the game – to the point where you actually see your beak protruding from the center of your perspective.

Tilting your head in either direction allows you to bank in said direction, while nose diving requires you to look down, strengthening my reasoning as to why inverse control in first person shooters is the “right” way, heh heh.

… I never felt a semblance of nausea while playing …
The DualShock 4 is used for acceleration and deceleration as well as shooting a sonic weapon from your beak which is part of your offensive during online multiplayer. Otherwise your head does all the flying.

A word of advice: keep your television on while you play, particularly if you live with other people. It can be awkward for someone to walk in on you unless they can see that your head motions are controlling a flying bird. Otherwise it might make you look like an insane person or that you need hospitalization.

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Despite the motion required for flight, I never felt a semblance of nausea while playing, and a few hours in I even began to experience that feeling of elation that I always dreamed of. Pressing the Cross button even allows you to look in a different direction while you fly, after unlocking the feature in the campaign, allowing you to look down as you rise into the sky. This is pretty amazing stuff.

The campaign tells a very simplistic story. You begin by learning to fly and are soon fighting off vultures and defending your wounded mate with your sonic weapon, as some liberties were taken with the natural world.

… engage in missions that are scattered across the environment …
You might be tasked with collecting feathers to build your nest or gliding over the river to catch jumping fish. If these tasks seem simple and boring, you might be absolutely correct if this was a standard game. The feeling of flight that VR provides escalates these menial tasks into something grand and emotional.

I was a little disappointed with the unforgiving nature of some of the missions. There are no checkpoints in these intense missions of flight, and crashing, even towards the end, has you starting from the beginning.

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Truth be told you have the option of slowing down during these flights, so it’s not like you have to haul ass through them. You only do so to earn a better score.

Eagle Flight is an open world game. No, this is not GTA with birds, but you fly around the city and engage in missions that are scattered across the environment. In addition to the campaign missions, you will have various choices in the tasks that will keep you busy, and this doesn’t even factor in multiplayer.

… one of the sharper looking VR games on PlayStation …
Visuals:
Please understand that when I rate graphics within a PlayStation VR game I am judging it based on the limitations that VR brings with it. That said, this game looks great. It’s actually one of the sharper looking VR games on PlayStation, particularly when you take into account the enormous environment you are traversing.

You can climb high into the sky and see the entire city sprawling below you, only to dive down into the alleys and avenues and see some decent detail. Even the trees sport individual leaves, making flying through the canopy a pretty damned sweet experience.

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Audio:
An amazing score accompanies you during your flight, and it couldn’t be more appropriate. Seriously, this game would be half of its experience without the music. Ambient sound effects from other creatures within the city, coupled with your own beating wings, make this a situation where headphones are absolutely required.

The only thing keeping this from giving you the true experience of absolute flight is the feeling of rushing wind and the pull of gravity. Thanks to VR and the sound design, the remaining senses are covered.

… one of my favorite VR experiences thus far …
Online/Multiplayer:
The online offering plays like a capture the flag match, with a three vs. three configuration. And if you thought your head would be tilting and bobbing during the campaign, you will be all but head-banging at a Maiden concert in multiplayer.

It’s actually pretty enjoyable, particularly when you use teamwork to cover each other from the enemy birds. There really isn’t much more to it than this mode, but there is definitely more than enough between this and the campaign.

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Conclusion:
PlayStation VR has achieved two things that I’ve dreamed of in a video game. I have piloted a star fighter, and now I have experienced free flight as an eagle. I find that these simple gaming moments are what makes virtual reality an experience that must be had.

Make no mistake, Eagle Flight is a full game, complete with campaign and multiplayer, but at its core it’s a simplistic story about an eagle living in an abandoned city. With a system that keeps nausea completely at bay, and a musical score that enhances the sense of flight, this is one of my favorite VR experiences thus far.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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