PlayStation VR 2017 Spring Showcase

PlayStation VR 2017 Spring Showcase

* PS Nation was invited to a preview event in New York City with light food and drinks served. Travel (tolls and parking) were paid for by the reviewer. All games were played using PlayStation VR.

We had some hands-on time with a few titles hitting PlayStation VR this spring at a preview event in New York. Check out our impressions below for Starblood Arena, Statik, Farpoint co-op mode, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew. You can also hear about all of them on Episode 522 of the podcast releasing this week.

Title: Starblood Arena
Release Date: April 11, 2017

This game is flight combat in a much more fun and arcade-like way than Eve: Valkyrie. All matches take place in an arena setting and you’ll have plenty to choose from, starting with any of the nine distinct ships, each with their own unique weapon loadout.

You have a number of different modes available including Carnage and Team Carnage, which are the Deathmatch modes, Invasion, which is a co-op horde mode, and Gridiron which is kind of a mix between Rocket League and Rigs.

You can play alone against bots or online with up to eight players. I was immediately comfortable with the controls and didn’t experience any nausea in the slightest which actually surprised me. There is no up or down in the game. You can, and will, barrel roll to orient yourself any which way as you cruise around the arenas.

Controls felt tight and responsive and the smaller size of the arenas, complete with places to hide and ambush enemies, seemed like the perfect fit for battles of up to eight players. I really like the idea of a solo experience here because online communities tend to wane leaving strictly multiplayer experiences to die a slow death.

Starblood Arena is out now and we should have a review up in the next week or so.

Title: Statik
Release Date: April 24, 2017

Statik is a mysterious and somewhat maddening puzzle game that makes an incredibly clever use of the DualShock 4. Much like the infamous Kitchen demo from E3 a few years back, your hands in the virtual world are bound in a way that mimics their position when holding the controller.

The difference here is that in each scenario your hands are encased within a box. The challenge is to open the box using everything at your disposal. Every single button on the controller will affect the box in some way. Through trial and error you’ll need to piece together what you need to do.

It’s important to look around the room for clues, listen to each click and whirr of the box as you push buttons, and try to make sense of what’s happening. Sometimes a combination of buttons is required or even a combination in a specific order.

I played two different puzzles and even when I had a handle on what needed to be done, remembering exactly what each flick of a stick, push of a button, and direction on the D-pad did was quite a task.

The story was kept a bit vague and the only person in the virtual room with me had their face blurred adding a bit of menace to the proceedings. Whatever the case may be, I’m very impressed with what I saw here and excited to dig into the story this difficult puzzler has to offer.

Title: Farpoint
Release Date: May 16, 2017

So this was my fifth time playing Farpoint but my first co-op experience with it. With one of the developers to my left on a second PS4, I dove into a whole new way of playing a game that I’ve been eagerly anticipating.

The first new thing to see was the loadout screen where I was able to choose a pair of weapons to take into battle. I skipped over the standard rifle and shotgun that I’d used in the past and opted instead for a sniper rifle and a type of laser pulse rifle. The laser lets you get off a few shots before the reload/cooldown but it’s incredibly effective. The three shot sniper rifle proved even more deadly.

There will be four co-op levels available with the game when it ships and the one I played was in that same brown landscape we’ve seen in the past demos. This time however things were decidedly skewed more towards the co-op experience.

There are plenty of cover objects that you’ll need to make use of. Along with the spider enemies from previous demos, I now found myself facing off against flying drones, alien snipers and grunts, and large mechs. Moving from cover to cover is essential and ducking down became a standard move.

Popping out of cover to take down the enemies with my sniper rifle became second nature and I was popping off headshots left and right. The enemy AI seemed pretty bright as they’d come at me from different angles, forcing me out into the open and exposing me to their snipers.

If you’re taken out, it’s not an instant Game Over. This is co-op after all. Fortunately, the two times I was taken down my partner was close enough to come revive me. That in itself is a harrowing experience as the enemy is still coming at you at all times.

It was a bit odd seeing another player moving along in the level with me and, as of right now anyway, there’s a bit of a Scooby Doo shuffle to the movement with a stiff body and feet sliding across the ground. It’s nothing game breaking, but it did pull me out of the experience a bit.

Seeing the new enemies and a whole new way to play has me wanting to dive into the full game even more. Co-op looks to be a shorter experience within the overall package but it’s a nice diversion and the scoring is a great way to have some competitive fun with friends in the Farpoint universe.

Title: Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Release Date: May 30, 2017

I was probably most excited to play this. Being a fan of Star Trek and having played it at E3 using Oculus Rift, I was very interested to see how it looked and played in PlayStation VR with Move controllers.

Four units were set up allowing a full crew to take the bridge and set off on an adventure. The initial demo is the exact same one I experienced at E3 so instead of taking the helm again I decided to try out engineering.

We started out in a conference room that I hadn’t seen before. As each player joined, they appeared around the table. To my left was a 3D chess set from the Original Series which was maddeningly just out of reach no matter how far I leaned.

I’m happy to say that the game looks fantastic on the PS4 and everything was pretty sharp and clean on the bridge when we dove into the scenario. Engineering is much more complicated than the helm with a lot more buttons to push and sliders to move. There’s even a PADD off to your left for the Transporter functions.

I did have a weird glitch and it was something they’d never seen before because, of course, Josh + VR + Move = trouble. I’m glad it happened though because it forced them to switch me out to a DualShock in the middle of the scenario. Yes, the game is playable with a DualShock 4 but I’d still highly recommend two Move controllers.

With Move, you have complete control over your virtual arms and can get to any button or slider within reach with ease. With the DS4 you use the left stick and left trigger to move your left hand and interact respectively and the right stick and trigger to do the same with your right hand.

The big difference is that you don’t have complete freedom of movement with this control scheme. Each flick of the stick will move you to the next control option, so to get around the panel you’ll be doing a lot of flicking. It works but it’s definitely slower which could mean the difference between life and death in a tough scenario.

As the event was winding down, the developers pulled in three of us veterans for a special experience. We were given the opportunity to check out the bridge of the Original Series Enterprise. It. Is. Amazing.

Since one of the developers is always in the Captain’s chair, I took the last spot I hadn’t tried yet, tactical. Every last little detail is here and we were all giddy with excitement. I even reached over to give a virtual high five to the navigator seated to my left.

Because nothing was labeled on the old consoles the development team had to come up with an elegant solution. Each crew member has the ability to turn on a virtual overlay for their station. The cool thing is, nobody else will see it, so if they look over at what you’re doing all they see is the console as they would in the TV show.

The overlay for tactical is pretty straightforward since the panel is a simple grid with just a handful of options. I even reached a point near the end of our session where I could have turned it off entirely with no problem.

I felt bad for the Engineer though. When I glanced over to my left I could see that they were dealing with a full semi-circle of buttons and switches and each time they were asked to do something the response was “Hang on, I’m looking for it”.

Because we had a pretty good handle on things overall, we were able to play through several linked scenarios. We had to track down and capture an escaped prisoner then return him to another system while being attacked by Klingons. It was insanely fun and it gave me a good taste of what the full game will be like when it releases. A good group should be able to take on just about anything thrown at them.

I was completely blown away by what I saw this time around and my mind was reeling with the idea of DLC bridges including the Enterprise D, the Defiant, and Voyager. Of course, none of these are confirmed, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t get added to the game at some point. May 30 can’t get here quick enough.

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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