Available on Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, PC and PS4
Eve: Valkyrie release date – Q1 2016
It feels like Eve: Valkyrie has been a long time coming. It was announced back in August 2013, but only now has developer CCP started showing off the game’s various modes, UI and multiplayer combat in full.
It’s been a rather strange journey for Eve: Valkyrie I guess, though. It’s just been named as an Oculus Rift launch title, bundled with all pre-orders for the VR headset, and it’s been the game that’s been shown off since the early days of Oculus Rift – back in the DK1 stages. It’s evolved through the various iterations, paving the way for other developers coming in afterwards.
But now, even though it’s still in alpha form, Eve: Valkyrie feels like a real game. It has a near final UI, which uses head-tracking selection within a crow’s-nest-style location. The detail is quite astonishing the first time you’re teleported there. My particular favourite part is the fact there’s a window to your left. As you turn towards it, the sunlight is so bright it makes you want to shield your eyes as you attempt to focus on the stunning space scene beyond. But, of course, you’re in a VR headset and all you can do is blink.
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During my preview session, I got to try out some of the game modes that are arriving with the game, some time in Q1 2016. But first, you might want to know a little bit about the ship types that you’ll be able to fly in Eve: Valkyrie.
There are three main ship types in the game: Fighter, Heavy and Support.
Fighters are your basic assault class. They’re a good all-rounder and the one I kept coming back to in my multiplayer sessions, even if I didn’t have much success with them.
These ships have a gatling gun on RT, while LT is for look-to-lock missiles. You’ll find this new “look-to-lock” feature is used across a number of weapons for Eve: Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift. It’s a clever function where you use head tracking to move a reticle on an enemy, and in this case you hold down LT and then release when locked to fire a barrage of missiles.
Then there’s the Heavies, aka your tank class. As the name suggests, and previous experience denotes, they’re a little slower than the other ships, but have better armour and more power.
Weapons-wise, it’s got a look-to-lock shotgun blast and a micro-warp on LT, which you use like a sprint, to get you out of the middle of battle.
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The Support ships act in a similar way to the traditional medics of multiplayer titles. They have the ability to heal teammates with their look-to-lock shield buffering. If you focus on an enemy, you can drain their shield to make them more susceptible to your attacks.
Supports also have traditional cannons, but their secondary weapons are spiderbots. Using them spawns a spiderweb-type mesh that hangs in space, and you can fire red spiderbots at enemies, or blue ones at friendlies.
A red web will send spiderbots to attack an ensnared ship’s hull, while flying through a blue web will give you a shield buffer.
Valkyrie will also offer you the chance to pimp out your ship with custom features to make them more of a hybrid class, as well as paint jobs and other aesthetic detailing. That might just come in handy, as the game supports squads of up to five players.
All ship customisation and progression upgrades are available via the Quarter Master, who will guide you through the best ways to upgrade your ship.
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But what’s the point of having an awesome ship if there’s nowhere to fly it? Well, of course, Eve: Valkyrie comes with a number of game modes, the most simple of which is Scout Mode. This gives you the opportunity to just fly around with your spaceship in VR, doing a little bit of exploration of the various structures.
I imagine this will be a great way to introduce players to VR for the first time, taking them on a little tour of space without having enemies (AI or otherwise) shooting at them.
Once you’ve got flying through space out of your system and feel ready to take on some enemies, there are a few game modes to take on – some PVP and others PVE.
Recall and Survival are two PVE modes. The first sees you reconstructing the memories of dead Valkyrie soldiers and learning from their experiences – basically as close as you’re going to get to a storyline with this multiplayer-focused title.
Survival, on the other hand, is pretty self-explanatory. All you need to do is survive as long as you can against waves of enemies of increasing power and numbers.
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The Recall mission I played was short but sweet, allowing me to test out the various ship types before going up against the bank of players sitting opposite me. Of course, I was testing the game on a build where everything was unlocked. There’s a progression system in the game, so it’s not quite clear how much in terms of ships and content will be available to you from the off.
Survival, on the other hand, was a lot trickier. I chose one of the Heavy ships, but the enemy ships just ended up looping around me, causing me to continuously spin around 360 degrees until they were in my sights again.
I’m assuming I’ll get better with practice, because I felt a little dizzy by the end of my match – although I did manage to survive six waves.
As for the 5-vs-5 PVP, you’re currently looking at two game modes known as Team Deathmatch and Control.
You’ve probably guessed that Team Deathmatch is just a case of destroying as many enemy ships as you can, with the match either ending when the timer runs down or when one team reaches 50 kills.
I found Control to be a much more enjoyable experience for PVP gaming. This objective-based game mode sees you attempting to control three separate objectives.
But rather than having to camp near a post, CCP has given it an Eve: Valkyrie spin. All you need to do is drop a drone using down on the D-pad near a control node and it does the camping for you, capturing the zone without you having to stay near it. You might need to shoot out a few enemy drones before you can successfully take it, which means you need to be a bit tactical about where you place yours.
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Playing Control just felt less of a free-for-all than Team Deathmatch, allowing players to play to their strengths. It’s a lot more fun, especially as the respawn time of 15 seconds starts to feel very lengthy when you’re constantly getting taken out in Team Deathmatch.
Eve: Valkyrie is seriously impressive on the consumer Oculus Rift, with some dazzling effects and immersive battle sequences. I can tell, even at this early stage, that there’s a massive learning curve here.
At the moment I’m at the stage where I’m a passable pilot, still a bit nauseated by barrel rolling and slightly overwhelmed in a battle with more skilled pilots. But give me a few months and I’ll be killing it. I just can’t wait to play more.