EVE: VRGeneral Stargazer
The community is excited about the upcoming release of Eve Valkyrie. Despite this, I still have my concerns with how it’s all going to pan out.
I was at Fanfest in 2011 when EVE:VR was first demonstrated and I have to say I was blown away. Sure I had played these types of games in the past, but admittedly, this was my first VR experience as well and I was just sold on the concept straight away.
For the subsequent Fanfests I have played it every time and it’s only got better and better with age. Last Fanfest I was fortunate enough to get into the tournament for the game and had a lot of fun with it for several different reasons. I even finished in the top 20!
Let me start with the positive points of my experiences.
1) The top spot has to be the gameplay – It flows so nicely. It’s simple to understand because the PvP/multiplayer style of Valkyrie is one that is tried and tested.
2) The ship responds in a logical and intuitive way. As you get catapulted out the side of a supercarrier, you get a sense of force projection as the ship gently tilts back during its launch. Turning angles aren’t unrealistic. As you’d expect, given the thruster layout on the ship, it’s better to rotate the ship and move at an angle if you want to pursue someone. For example, if you want to turn right sharply, it’s better to rotate/bank your view so that your horizontal plane is on the direction you want to turn in, instead of just trying to fly right. Your ship will respond much faster.
3) In-space time: One of my biggest gripes with some multiplayer games is the downtime. When I play a game, I hate waiting for loading in and out of the game with respawn timers so much that I feel like I’ve spent the majority of a 10 minute session not actually playing, but waiting to get back into the game. The way this is balanced out in EVE with general ship survivability and respawn time means that you spend a lot of time in space even while learning.
4) Presence: Partially tying in with the above – The sense that your guns are really powerful weapons almost causes you to get sucked into a killing rampage. You spend so much time firing, trying to land that perfect shot, that you almost completely lose track of time. If a target sits still, you can eliminate it in no time at all, though.
On flip side, when receiving incoming fire, you have a range of defensive abilities available to you. Most of it comes down to good spatial awareness and flying skill. Like for any skilled dogfighter, dodging and blocking line-of-sight with the person shooting you is key. Guns are mounted to the ship’s hull, in a straight line with the ship, so if they can’t see you they can’t shoot you. Tracking missiles are also available as powerful weapons, but ships have ECM on board to counter them, not to mention that you can also dive in and out of wreckage on the field to prevent them from hitting.
5) Teamwork is key with the gamemode I’ve played and from my limited range of experience. You can have all the skills in the world as an individual pilot, but even with one or two ships dominating the field, you simply can’t win a match without co-ordinating. We used voice comms during the tournament and I’d say they were pretty essential for participation. No “Rambos” or “Carries” progressing here!
6) Potential for big tournaments/e-sports: This is one of the really big things in my view. E-sports are continuously becoming more popular across the globe and, unfortunately, EVE isn’t the easiest thing to understand for non-players. In Valkyrie it is simple to understand what’s going on just by looking at it from the outside without explanation. This understanding will be a massive boon to the marketing of the game for big tournaments and to bring more people to the EVE universe.
7) Price point: As I had anticipated, it was announced on 10th December that Valkyrie will ship with the Oculus Rift. This is fantastic news and – I believe – a really good move on CCP’s part. Looking at the Oculus subreddit on the day of that announcement, it really excited me to see the amount of people who weren’t connected already with the EVE universe but appeared to be thrilled by the prospect. All CCP need to make sure of now is keeping potential microtransactions in the game at a reasonable cost.
This next section I’m going to list as both a positive and a negative point.
The elephant in the room: It’s a VR exclusive game. To partially tie this in with point 6 in the positives, during last Fanfest CCP hosted the first ever worldwide VR game public tournament. In my view VR will be the direction of games in the future. CCP’s seems to see it the same way, given their recent commitment of a $30m investment. I don’t believe that that VR will be a fad like 3D gaming. Technology has finally evolved to what we once saw as science fiction 20 years ago. I believe we will also see several continuous generations of the headsets that will be coming out soon, but this does also concern me as I’ll outline below.
Possible negative points
VR exclusive – Hardware dependency: I fear that the initial success of this game will be limited by this aspect. No official price has come out for the Oculus Rift yet, but when we assume $350, CCP are expecting that gamers invest quite some money for a peripheral to play their game. It’s no small amount, but I think those who have played Valkyrie, and can afford it, would certainly be willing to pay that price.
I’m more concerned about the willingness to pay among those not currently interested in VR or Valkyrie. Many reviews and success-stories of games are featured by the gaming media for sure, but a lot of reviews are also feedback from the gamers themselves. As a result the success of both Valkyrie as a game and Oculus as a headset will be dependent on gamer’s reviews when they are released. Oculus is of course the facilitator for the game – they will be looking for something to show off their headset to the world. Based on what we’ve seen at the Oculus conferences, I get the impression that Valkyrie will be the game they continue to push as the demo project for their hardware.
VR exclusive – The game: One of the major selling points is obviously that it’s a VR game and it works extremely well as a such. But I hope that this success isn’t its limiting factor. I do hope that during the game’s development that it does eventually become available for those who don’t have an Oculus Rift.
Limitation of “Single Player” content:The game won’t have what most people may interpret as a single player mode. There will be a few offline missions and modes, but it’s my understanding these will be more of a tutorial/free-roam type of gameplay so you can practice moving around in space, like what we saw with the “Gallente Escort” trailer. It’s going to have a focus on Multiplayer content. This lack of “PvE Campaign” content may put some people off who aren’t interested in the competitive gameplay nature of the game.
Difficulty of Streaming: This is one of those areas where we don’t have much information on the way it’s going to be done. I think the game is great to watch, but allowing “Joe Public” to stream those games will be pretty critical too. In recently released trailers we can see that FPS is forcibly lowered to allow for capture. I hope that isn’t something which will affect large numbers of streamers opting for lower quality of play to make it viewable for audiences.
(Source: IGN footage – check out the message in the bottom left)
Possible limitations for PS4 compatibility: CCP has announced that Valkyrie may also be cross compatible and available on the PS4/Project Morpheus. I hope that this won’t mean that the game’s progress is hindered again by Playstation development like it was with Dust514.
With those points considered, I’m excited to see how this project pans out for CCP. One of the recent news events that I touched upon briefly above is CCP receiving a $30m investment for VR development. In addition, we know that CCP plans on moving closer to a VR lab/university in the future. I’m interested in seeing where this leads. Perhaps there will eventually be more VR based games set within the EVE universe or further developments of the existing games. We are yet to see whether CCP are considering such expansions or branching out into something completely different.