Available May 17 on PS4
I had a lot of fun playing Farpoint at last year’s E3, and in particular thought its AIM controller was a revelation for virtual reality shooters. Now, getting the chance to enjoy some co-op action, I’ve continued to be very impressed by what I’ve seen. It may not be the prettiest PSVR game you’ll play, but it’ll certainly be one of the most enjoyable.
Farpoint feels like the VR FPS Starship Troopers game I've been desperate for: working through a strange alien planet and shooting giant spiders in the face with cool weapons, yelling “Hoo-Rah!” to my heart’s content.
Except now, I get to bring a friend along. VR is often pitched as an isolated affair, but getting the chance to play some multiplayer is a welcome treat. The built-in microphone in the PSVR headset allows chat to come through very clearly while filtering out ambient noise, even in the loud hall in which I was playing.
Starting off in a lobby aboard a space station as my ally selects one of the four co-op missions to play through, I start messing around with the AIM controller. I use it to make my in-game gun knock bottles and objects off the table in front of me.
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The accuracy of the controller is excellent and feels like a natural extension of my arms. It fits very comfortably in the hands and every button is excellently placed for using attachments like grenades.
Jumping into the opening of the level, we’re once again on a barren land sidelined by huge brown mountains. Farpoint isn’t a very attractive game, and at times can look blurry when trying to spot enemies in the distance, but this is countered by its incredibly satisfying core gameplay.
There are multiple movement options available (very similar to those some of you may have experienced in other VR games like Resident Evil 7) but I use the least nausea-inducing of the lot, where turning is done by looking where I want to go and movement is on the left stick. It looks a little weird and takes getting used to, but is the most comfortable. As you have to stand to play Farpoint – and have quite a bit of room around you – it's vital to use the least dizzy option.
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Heading to the first open area, we’re quickly swarmed by spiders of all sizes and types. Some are rushing at our feet, others are spitting venomous bulbs from afar while giant armour nasties are causing all sorts of mayhem. I remember my mistake in my demo last year and remember to close one eye while aiming down sights. It improves the accuracy.
I’ve had few more satisfying feelings in VR than aiming down the barrel of an assault rifle and picking off a giant spider in the distance. The sensation of holding a big gun and killing things with proper aiming in virtual reality is brilliant. But there are a couple of caveats.
As I mentioned before this isn’t the prettiest VR game around, and when aiming at enemies in the distance, it can become incredibly blurry. At times it's pretty tricky to determine whether or not you’re actually aiming at a target.
One weapon in the game – the sniper rifle – has a very smart way of overcoming this. When aiming, the reticule is very small, and naturally the target is very far away. The lack of colour variety on the enemies mean they often blur into the background, making matters worse. But what the sniper rifle reticle does is change colour when you’re aiming at an enemy, meaning you don’t have to worry about firing wildly and wasting ammunition and precious time reloading.
This made aiming far easier and meant I could focus on feeling like a badass, popping enemies as they flew overhead with amazing accuracy instead of spraying and praying. It also doesn’t rip control away from the player, it simply is a friendly indicator to say the next shot will smash the baddie in the face.
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The flying enemies are not the spiders, in case your arachnophobia reached fever pitch in the previous paragraph. This co-op mode gave me a chance to see some of the new enemy types of Farpoint, which include pesky drones and alien humanoids. This adds a great bit of variety to combat, and encourages you to move around the terrain while keeping to cover and working with your partner to divide your duties in killing enemies and keeping numbers down. Friendly fire is also turned on by default so it’s important to be wary of your pal’s location to avoid accidental strafing shots to the back of the head – which I managed to do a couple of times, followed by abrupt apologies.
When a player is down, you can walk over and revive them by holding L1 (located on the rear of the front grip of the AIM controller), but can continue to shoot enemies while bringing your partner back from the dead.
I was the first to bite the dust, but luckily it came towards the end of the first area and there were fewer enemies. However, when my partner died, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. There were at least five drones flying around – all of which can communicate with one another to find and shoot you from better vantage points – three snipers, and two enormous robot tanks which basically looked like ED209 from Robocop.
After clearing the path of enemies, I make my way over to my partner and start the revival. But more enemies come in on a drop ship, as well as more spawning on the periphery of the map, making this a nearly impossible job. I reload the sniper rifle and begin taking shot, but I can’t move from where I’m standing so I'm forced to duck behind the nearby boulders to obscure line of sight. I stupidly took ages fumbling around the AIM controller looking for a duck button, before realising I could just lower my head. My best efforts were not enough, and we soon failed at the second level.
I had fun with my first run through Farpoint’s single player and the experience in co-op is just as great. Again the blurriness in VR when aiming isn’t ideal, but the core gameplay is so satisfying when shooting stuff I tend to overlook it, plus the AIM controller needs to be the new standard controller for any VR FPS games.
I can’t wait to play the full game next month, and am now really looking forward to jumping in the game with a pal.