Summary

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What is EVE: Valkyrie?

EVE: Valkyrie may look like a normal space dogfighting sim, but it is actually rather special. It is a major title that, from inception, has been built to work using virtual reality technology. Rather special indeed, then.

Set in the lawless regions of the EVE: Online universe, the Valkyrie are a mercenary faction formed from a band of pirates who seek profit or vengeance. The final game will offer a choice of ships, customisations, weapons and load-outs as well as the voice of Katee Sackhoff, of Battlestar Galactica fame. 



In essence EVE: Valkyrie aims to give those who want a break from shipping vast quantities of freight on clunky barge-like spaceships in EVE: Online a short, sharp blast of adrenaline. And boy does it do it with panache.

Early in the year I played a version of EVE: Valkyrie based on the Unity engine. It looked good enough, although some of the graphics – in particular the pilot you played as – were a little basic. It has since been rebuilt using the Frostbite 4 engine, of Battlefield 4 fame, and this means that ships, pilots, explosions and the vastness of space look sumptuous and detailed.

The graphics are good, but the thing that really makes EVE: Valkyrie stand out from the crowd is that virtual reality is at the core of its gameplay. Both Project Morpheus for the PS4 and the Oculus Rift for the PC are compatible, although we only got a chance to play using the latter.

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The Oculus Rift acts like an all-encompassing 3D monitor, taking over your entire field of vision. Look down and there are your pilot’s legs, as if your own. The cockpit is all around you and, as you wait for blast off parked impatiently in the hanger, you can look behind you.

The effect of looking at the rear of the empty spaceship is impressive. Seeing players staring at the back of their chairs with the Rift on their head and a look of jaw-dropping awe on their faces is comical from the outside. Play EVE: Valkyrie yourself, though, and you’ll be doing exactly the same thing, any hint of embarrassment dispelled by the uniqueness of the experience.   

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It not just the encompassing visuals that make EVE: Valkyrie so special. The gameplay is deeply integrated with the Rift’s tracking.

You can follow enemy ships as they fly past by moving your head, keeping them in sight and therefore locked-on. While you dodge and weave your ship through space using your controller you simultaneously use your head to track enemies and fire lock-on missiles. The longer you have the enemy in your sights the more missiles you can send screaming after them, up to a maximum of five.

Initially, using the virtual reality headset to track is a little odd. You often forget you can move your field of vision around and end up looking forward. This means you invariably attempt to get into position by putting the the enemy in a direct line with the front your ship. As your ship also comes packing some powerful front-firing lasers this isn’t an altogether bad tactic. But it’s not until you brain switches to understanding that the screen in front of you is not static that Valkyrie comes to life.

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Once you get to grips with using the Oculus Rift to look around and the controller to line up laser shots you’ll find yourself chasing one enemy like a terrier, firing off laser blasts and tracking their flight path, all the while moving your head around to check for additional threats or to fire missiles at another bogey. It’s fast, it’s frantic, but above all it’s fun.

Not all of the TrustedReviews team felt as comfortable with EVE: Valkyrie and the Oculus Rift, however. One colleague got a little nauseous and questioned how long he’d be able to play before becoming overly sick and tired by the experience.

The fact is that virtual reality will not suit all players, or for that matter all games. EVE: Valkyrie is perfect for it but we’ve yet to see any other type of game that works quite as well. First-person shooters, like Half-Life 2 for example, are currently a lot more awkward to play because of the quick 180 degree turns.

First Impressions

EVE: Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift is an experience every gamer should have. If you thought your first go on the Wii using the Wiimote was innovative and impressive then you really need to try Valkyrie.

Unfortunately, since neither the Oculus Rift nor Project Morpheus have an official release date this may be a little difficult to do in the near future. EVE creators CCP Games has assured us that it will be released in tandem with those products, and tantalisingly the EVE:Valkyrie trailer says it's coming in 2014.



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