Review: EVE: Valkyrie (PSVR)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K

Extras:

  • PlayStation VR Required
  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play Yes
  • Cross-Chat No
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Title: EVE: Valkyrie
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (12.21 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2016
Publisher: CCP Games
Developer: CCP Games
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 12
A copy of this game was purchased by the reviewer.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
I feel Sony gave us a strong launch for VR last year. While only a handful of launch titles were considered Triple-A, there was a wide spectrum of genres covered with the launch leaving something for just about everyone. Well, perhaps except for RPG fans.

EVE: Valkyrie was in that “handful” number. It was one of the higher profile launch titles. It was also responsible for confirming that I could hang in VR for a long period of time without feeling motion sickness. A relief, since I was waiting with baited breath for the release of Sony’s headset.

Even now, a couple of months post release, I find myself enjoying the rush of sitting in the cockpit of a space fighter. With graphics that rank among the best on the PlayStation VR thus far and super tight controls, this is not only an amazing VR game, it’s a fantastic space sim, with only a few lacking components to keep it from absolute greatness.

You begin a wraith fighter. I personally had a PlayStation VR exclusive wraith-type ship that was unlockable with the game. This beauty is incredibly nimble and has a vibrant blue-lit cockpit, to complement the PlayStation brand. Even the on-screen controller somewhat resembles a PlayStation controller. I used this instead of the actual wraith you begin with, but a few hours in I purchased my own ship, since the exclusive ship was not upgradable.

One thing I love about the game is that there are “classes” associated with each ship. Of course, this alone isn’t a new concept, as we have had other space sims with bulkier bombers and nimble ships before. But there is a very light sense of an MMORPG class system going here, where the support class of ships actually serve the purpose of, not combat, but healing and support for the smaller ships, as well as the heavier “tank” classes.

This dynamic works amazingly well when you are playing online, and I can’t count how many times a support ship saved my ass from the coldness of space. This is where the guts of the game’s essence resides. I’m not much of an online gamer. But the chance to pilot a ship in VR was too much of a lure.

Fortunately, you’re given plenty of online scenarios to choose from. I spent most of my time in the cooperative mode, where you and a few other pilots take on computer-controlled enemies in a stellar clash within a various number of environments.

… new paint jobs and decals …
There is single-player component, but don’t spend your money on this game with plans to spend some alone time here as there is no campaign. There are some training missions, but they are over very quickly and some of them hardly even put you in a battle.

There are surveillance missions where you patrol the environment, with no enemies, and discover “voices” from the past. This is a nice way to get acquainted with the controls, and also get a feel for the VR experience without the stresses of combat. Finally, you do have a single-player survival mode that can keep you busy and train you at the same time, if you choose to play alone.

It’s a real shame that EVE: Valkyrie does not contain a true campaign. While the online mode has kept me busy for months now, I can’t help but feel that all of the assets are there for an awesome explosive campaign, and without it, some players might shy away from this experience. I almost did.

Back to the ships. You earn credits during combat, even in co-op mode, and you can use those to purchase new ships, or even cockpits for your existing ships. Additionally, you can buy new hangars in order to store more ships and make them accessible before combat. Credits can also be spent on new paint jobs and decals. And despite the coolness factor, I didn’t spend much on decals, since the odds of people seeing them in combat was so minimal.

There is a definitely a way to buy in-game elements with real money which is a disappointment in a game that’s already $60, but I have not spent an extra dime and have put hours into this game. Furthermore, the developers have released new content and kept up with the game since launch, so there is no feeling of being ripped off with the in-game purchase component.

Combat is second to none in this space sim, and the benefit VR provides is not only amazing to behold, it’s also crucial to gameplay. It’s very easy to dismiss VR as a gimmick, that is until your ability to look around your virtual space becomes part of your strategy.

… once you get under the headset …
Not only does surveying your environment during combat afford you the advantage that simply looking straight does not, but the game attaches missile-locking to your eyes. This means that you can target a ship not directly in front of you with your head position and unleash a barrage of missiles at the enemy while flying in a completely different direction. I’m not implying that it’s impossible to do this in a traditional game, but once you get under the headset, you understand how much more convenient it is to do it this way.

On the flip side, that same onslaught of missiles was heading my direction on one encounter, so I navigated towards a cluster of space rocks while glancing over my shoulder. I shifted immediately towards one of the giant asteroids and looked over my shoulder again to see the rockets harmlessly impact the rock, instead of my wraith. Those types of scenarios are greatly enhanced by VR.

Visuals:
This is one of the better-looking VR games on Sony’s headset. It has higher-end graphics and detailed VR components like your cockpit and the awesome multiplayer “waiting” room where you see other pilots adjusting their settings and choosing their ships.

The combat environments also range from beautiful asteroid fields to space stations and icy landscapes surrounded by giant cruisers. But those environments are seldom fully visible behind the barrage of weapon fire and explosions that surround you during a skirmish, and Eve: Valkyrie handles it all with great ease. Missile trails accompany rapid gunfire, and exhaust lines from enemies look dazzling as you use the effect to keep track of a ship you’re looking to destroy.

… you are not only engrossed visually in this stellar battle, but audibly as well …
The heads-up display is everything I imagined from a VR game. All of your ship’s info floats on nearby panels and it’s always easy to glance over and see how your shields are doing, or how much boost your have left. Head tracking works great, and looking out your window to see your ship’s mechanics shifting as your guns work is nothing short of spectacular.

Audio:
The game has a great musical score, though I personally had my own custom soundtrack going, because The Ramones. But even without the music, sound design is amazing here. You could assault the eyes with all the VR goodness in the world, but without that doppler effect kicking in when a ship buzzes by you, or that sound of your computer wailing in you ears, you have nothing. Great work was done here to ensure that you are not only engrossed visually in this stellar battle, but audibly as well.

Online/Multiplayer:
Multiplayer is divided into the previously mentioned segments. You can choose to team up with others against other live players or you can go the co-op route and team up against the computer. Both modes are equally engaging and both will earn you experience to level your pilot, so you don’t have to feel left out of the leveling process because you choose to play against the computer.

You can also create a squad and invite your friends to join you in combat, though I was not able to easily find some of my friends that play on PC, since yes, this game is Cross-Play. You can easily turn this off and stick to playing with PlayStation 4 gamers, but I loved testing my skills against the PC crowd.

As far as I can tell, and I looked, I could not find a way to audibly communicate with people on my team, nor could I hear them. I’m not sure if this is by design or if I simply missed something, but seeing as how the VR headset comes with a microphone, it seems a strange omission for this option to be unavailable online. Yes, you could simply start a Group Chat within the PlayStation 4’s interface, but that will not work when you are playing with strangers.

Conclusion:
EVE: Valkyrie was my 2016 VR game of the year. Very few games came close in terms of the higher-tier console experience. And while the lack of a campaign kept it from being what I expect from a complete package, I cannot deny the time I’ve spent with it since launch and the great experiences I’ve had while playing it.

A year ago when I imagined what the VR experience would entail, this is exactly what I hoped for. You’re in a freakin’ space battle, man! You don’t see the plant sitting next to your TV. You look left and there is an asteroid field, you look right and there is a giant capital ship, and you look up and there is a wraith ship gunning for you.

You throttle up, aim in his direction and unleash hell. He explodes and you shade your eyes from the bright flash as your pass through the plume and move towards your next victim. You’re not in your living room. You’re there, and VR makes it possible.

Score:

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

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  • Dennis

    I bought the headset and the game last month. The game is a fun system to play however after each battle of 5 V 5 players There is typically one player, at times one on each side, that is reported as earning 15-20 kills whilst every other player is accurately reported as scoring zero or one. It turns out it is the same few players ranked in the incredibly fantastic and look how good I am league system. It is disheartening when the super players ranked #1 and #2 worldwide bring their gloriously gunned super ships into battle but I found that after 3 days the headset sits collecting dust.

    Valkrie could be a great game but what it really has become is simply a shooting gallery with the same micro handful of players blowing through everyone else and having a great time whilst the other players sit in the hangar waiting to launch again so they can immediately be killed by s diamond league player. I am a ruby. At first I simply disconnected when I saw the one or two hyper cool and undestructable players and ships show up in a session, but these guys play all the time and once I started disconnecting 75% of the time to try to find a session that matches equal ships and players together I just tossed the headset onto the couch and there it sits. I am delighted that the same tiny fraction of 15-0 K/D players can blow everyone else out of the game but I I’ll be damned if I want to spend my time as a simple target in somebody elses shooting gallery.

    If you do not mind being somebody elses good time target and waiting in launch tubes while a handful of players rack up 10-15-20 kills per session then the game is alright. It makes my eyes water something fierce when all the explosions start happening and there is just no way to dim the display any further. Generally I have to take the headset off between being killed and launching as tears stream down my eyes from the brilliant flashes of light 2 inches in front of my eyeballs.

    Valkrie is a stupendous game if you are one of those who has purchased or otherwise acquired the unbeatable ships, but for the other 9 players per session who spend their times in the launch tube respawning not so much.