EVE: Valkyrie is going to be many people’s first virtual reality experience on the Oculus Rift. CCP are one of the first developers to jump into developing for the VR technology and what they’ve created is a beautiful, immersive, introduction that showcases perfectly what is possible in this next era for gaming. EVE: Valkyrie is a single and multi-player space dogfighting shooter, where players strap in with the VR technology and go on an incredible ride that has them piloting a spacecraft in the world of EVE by using a combination of controller and look to aim inputs.
EVE: Valkyrie is one of the first games to be built from the ground-up for virtual reality technology and it shows. It puts players in a first person view, and gives them a visceral dogfighting experience in space. While CCP is best known for its EVE: Online, a strategic space simulation, Valkyrie is incredibly different and kind of an offshoot of the universe that doesn’t have any direct links to that game other than it being set in the same hostile sci-fi environment.
This is EVE: Valkyrie
Eve: Valkyrie on Oculus is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You’re not just piloting a spaceship, you’re in the spaceship. You can look around. You can look up to ceiling and see the top of your ship. You can look behind you and see the dock as you blast off into combat. You can look down and see your body and controls. Once in space, you can look around at the beautiful space vistas in a just about every position you can contort your body. EVE: Valkyrie isn’t a space tour though. Get caught taking in the sights and sounds for too long and you’ll quickly realize that you’re in a tense fight among a massive armadas of ships and other space wreckage.
EVE: Valkyrie on Oculus is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced
It’s all so intuitive after you’ve played a couple of rounds of EVE: Valkyrie. Using a combination of a controller and the VR headset’s ability to track your head movements, you can both control the direction of your ship and follow and track enemy pilots. Traditionally games have not given you the type of freedom that VR does. Especially not in the natural way that VR allows you to look around the environment as you would in the real world. It takes a little play time to wrap your head around the possibilities, but by using a combination of traditional aiming reticules and a look to lock missile system, you see and feel that this is unlike anything else. In some ways, EVE: Valkyrie plays like a traditional shooter. But when you start moving your head, looking around, getting the hang of the controls, it’s incredible. It’s our first reaction to just sit there, and try to play these games as we would traditional shooters, but doing so is not what was intended here, and CCP constantly urges players to look around, use your head, use your natural instincts to follow your target with your eyes. I’ve never been in a real life dogfight, but I can imagine that when an enemy goes zooming by you, your first inclination is to turn your head and see where they’re headed. EVE: Valkyrie nails this, allowing you to stay dialed in on enemies by simply following them by looking at them, locking in on them with missiles, then simply using the controller inputs to fire. EVE: Valkyrie gave me that feeling of a hyper-competitive first person shooter in a completely new environment where not only the dexterity of your hands was challenged, but your ability to keep your enemies in your sights by moving your head.
At this point, EVE: Valkyrie isn’t a tech demo. What I saw wasn’t a proof of concept. Things had been worked out. These control systems felt polished, and felt like something that could have some depth with additional movement abilities to bolster the experience which included things like boosting and barrel rolls. Have you ever really wanted to fly in a battle like the ones you see in Star Wars? EVE: Valkyrie is as close as I’ve ever been on any platform at any time since I’ve first picked up a controller. Aside from that, the multiplayer had multiple game mode types, a Team Deathmatch mode and an objective based mode that had you controlling points a la Domination — two modes that you would find in just about any contemporary shooter. This depth to the controls and combat is increased by classes of ships as well. There are Assault ships, which are the best all-around options. But there are also heavy ships that deal bigger damage at the expense of speed and manueverability. There are support ships which can buff allies or weaken enemies or cast a spider bot web that helps or hurts other players. Classes make a lot of sense for this game, as it broadens the scope of strategy, allowing teammates to work together in competitive games. Also teams will want to have multiple different ship-types in their fleet to help give them an edge so communicating and setting up roles for each player is important in trying to win. The philosophy here is not hugely different than what we see in other class-based shooters.
VR is almost here and it’s not just for tourists
Outside of the new technology, and immersion there’s a lot of stuff in EVE: Valkyrie that you would expect from a contemporary first person shooter. While there’s not a traditional campaign, what is there is a PvE element, which delivers some backstory for the game, and lets players learn the ropes in terms of controls and gameplay systems. A scout mode is a single player mode that has no objectives at all, it’s all about just exploring the map, learning how to fly, and just enjoying the sensation of flying in the VR world. This thing is fully padded out with a progression system and things to unlock. XP that you earn with specific ship classes allows you to unlock more customization options in that particular branch, while also feeding into a combined overall pool for your pilot reputation. As you reach specific milestones within the progression sytem, you unlock new ships, new blueprints, with which you then pay with in-game currency to have crafted for you to use. This currency is called salvage, which is shared economy system that is found while playing. Whenever you kill someone in battle, they’ll drop salvage, if you pick it up it will be added to a salvage pool that will be split equally at the end of the match. So you can build out an entire fleet of different types of ships to take with you into battle, and then access them through a deck that you create before heading online, and then you can just launch from any of the ships that you have in your deck. Needless to say, EVE Valkyrie has all of the types of systems for progression and modes that you would expect from a competitive shooter.
It didn’t surprise me that the Oculus and EVE: Valkyrie would be in consumer hands shortly. A few days after the event we got details of an embargoed announcement that EVE: Valkyrie would ship with pre-orders for the headset and that it would be available before the end of Q1 2016. Both feel like they are ready go. Valkyrie certainly had the fit and finish of a full product, from the big systems in place and polished movement mechanics, right down to the little touches like creepy frozen space death animations and cracking windshields as enemies fired on you. VR is about to be here and its not just for tourists. EVE: Valkyrie has all the things you’d expect from a contemporary, competitive shooter, with the added bonus of an incredible level of immersion that sucks you into this world in a way that games have never done before. It’s a perfect fit as an introductory course to virtual reality, while being a tense and satisfying multiplayer experience.