EVE Valkyrie, at first glance, is just another space shooter where you fly your little space worthy ‘wessel’ (in joke about playing it in Germany there) around the incomprehensible void of space shooting things at other tin cans. But this E3 tech-demo-cum-full-game is so much more than just another space fighter. Why? Because of its integration with Oculus Rift.
For those not in the know, the Oculus Rift is a kickstarter-funded virtual reality headset that displays in 1080p and 3D. Currently it’s only available to developers and even then only on PC, but it’ll soon be coming to consumers and in doing so bring games like EVE Valkyrie into their lives.
Once sat down with the Oculus Rift strapped to my head, and a headset over my ears, I really couldn’t see or hear anything at all – in essence I was blind and deaf. But once they were turned on, I suddenly became a fighter pilot sitting in the cockpit of a state-of-the-art war machine. No longer was I an average man at a games convention.
Moving my head allowed me to survey my surroundings, it all felt incredibly natural – even when I looked down and saw the rest of my virtual body. One moment where I knew I was through the looking glass came when I moved my actual arm in an attempt to move my virtual one that was obstructing my view. Obviously this didn’t work, but the simple fact that my brain told me I could move my graphical arm counterpart just goes to show how immersive this system really is. And I mean immersive in the truest sense, not in the marketing term that gets slapped onto any game.
There was a brief period where you had to allow your eyes to adjust to the optical trickery displayed in front of you. Despite this adjustment time, along with actually moving the headset around to find a sweet spot on the lenses, I did find that things could still be a little blurry. I didn’t know if this was because I’m a little short sighted, as the way Oculus Rift works is to let your eyes focus in the distance, or if it was because Valkyrie is still in the early stages and therefore needed some refinement before its release.
Once I was all set up, and so were the others sat in the room with me, we were fired out of a launch tube and straight into the fight between two factions. While running on a PC, we were all using Xbox 360 pads to play, so controls were rather standard. It’s a shame really as a joystick would have really added to the experience.
While duking it out with fellow journalists, a holographic 3D orb that mapped out our surroundings sat on the dashboard near my lap. Looking down meant that you could glance at this wonder rather quickly, taking in information about nearby allied or enemy crafts, along with incoming homing missiles. There was also an ability to fire missiles by locking on through moving my head to track enemies. It’s glorious to aim with my head and then close in to make sure that missiles had a good chance of hitting, releasing them and watching the light show as I sailed past – all before having a warning light pop up informing me that someone’s locked onto me. All of this just feels completely natural and frankly wonderful, the only down side really was the use of a controller, which just didn’t really cut it on the simulation front.
Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on Oculus Rift and games that take full-advantage of its capabilities, such as EVE Valkyrie. Unfortunately, we poor journalists were rushed out before we could ask any real questions into how CCP see Valkyrie‘s progression. Due to this, there’s not an awful lot I can say about it thanks to less than 10 minutes hands-on, but I can say with all honesty that this is going to be a great game thanks to its support for virtual reality head-mounted display.