EVE: Valkyrie - Fanfest 2014 Hands-On

Curious if Valkyrie is any good these days? Read on!

Currently, EVE: Valkyrie is more of a "wild ride" than a game – and that's okay.

At only one year past its prototype, EVE: Valkyrie is blowing socks off. During Fanfest 2014, crowds gathered and lines formed; everyone seized their chance for three minutes in space. CCP Games had secured 9 of 17 Oculus Rift DK2's in the world. Attendees took full advantage.

Personally, I played Valkyrie in two forms:

  • The Unreal Engine 4 build on the Oculus Rift DK2 (x2)
  • The Unity build on Sony's 'Project Morpheus' (x1)

Let's see how it all stacks up.

Space: The Shiny Frontier

I'll admit it: at first glance, I didn't see the difference between Unity and Unreal Engine 4. It had been six months since I'd played the Unity build, and I had fond memories of how it looked. Once I replayed the Unity build later that day (on the Morpheus), I was in denial. This isn't what it looked like. It was. The UE4 build blows it out of the water in retrospect. The details are refined, the lighting looks dreamy. The immersion is incredible. Props to CCP for making leaps in the right direction.

Oculus' Little Brother

To put it simply: it's just not even close. There isn't one element of the Morpheus that overshadows the Rift DK2. It sounds harsh, but that's how it felt. The DK2 has better screens (OLED vs LCD), a better field-of-view (100 vs 90), and less blurring. Even the way you wear them – secure straps vs plastic ring – doesn't compare. My reaction: it's like comparing official vs off-brand console controllers. You can use both controllers for a full experience, but the off-brand just doesn't feel right. It's not all there.

To the Morpheus' credit, it still gave a suitable VR experience. PlayStation gamers will still have a great time, but a direct comparison isn't favorable. Sony's only opportunity to edge out Oculus would be price (and release date). With the pre-consumer DK2 priced for pre-order at $350, and no consumer-model release date, Sony could swipe impatient gamers choosing between PC and PS4.

The Actual Gameplay

Now, the important part: Valkyrie itself. We played 3v3, none of us with much experience. CCP had reduced visual cues from previous builds that helped track enemies. Matches often ended with a single kill. People were too enamored with the experience as a whole. With the DK2's low persistence, you could swing your head in any direction, at any speed, without much blurring whatsoever. The game itself became secondary.

When players finally clashed, the game flourished. Sounds were rich. Locking on with missiles was fun. Blasting people to bits was satisfying. One of the biggest issues, beside finding targets, was the UI. It was hard to focus on readouts or indicators. Valkyrie devs mentioned time and again that UI has been one of the toughest issues with VR.

So, as a game, Valkyrie is simply not there yet. CCP explains that they're focusing on the core of the game first, and that's a good move. Once the experience feels absolutely perfect, they'll start nailing down gameplay specifics. Even as it stands, I'd still buy Valkyrie and the DK2 today.

The Verdicts

  • Valkyrie is very fun, but not as a game (yet)
  • CCP needs to watch out for Elite: Dangerous
  • The Rift is simply better than the Morpheus
  • VR has begun to redefine my expectations

The future of VR gaming is bright. EVE: Valkyrie is a beacon.

Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey
Deputy Editor


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