Much VR, very immerse, wow
Last year, Sony launched the PlayStation VR after several years of work. Reviews were generally positive, though they carried the pitfalls common to all VR today — various experiences have some great moments, but a true killer app has yet to emerge. Although we have seen sprinkles of gems such as Eagle
Flight and Resident Evil VII: biohazard early on, the PlayStation VR seems to have lost a bit of steam since.
Past PS VR games have been fun, but they provided more fleeting moments than full-on experiences that I wanted to stay in for hours at a time. Farpoint achieves this and more. The caveat here is, of course, subjective to how well you take to VR in the first place.
I had the chance to play Farpoint with the VR Aim controller and I must say I am impressed. This is because Farpoint has a fantastic co-op mode. VR is often an isolated affair, but getting the chance to experience multiplayer on VR is a welcome treat.
Farpoint tells the story of a pair of scientists on an expedition to explore an alien world. As luck would have it, they became stranded on the distant world infested by giant alien bugs (like most distant worlds) after a catastrophe. If you are a huge fan of Starship Troopers, then
Farpoint’s story mode is standard sci-fi cookie-cutter stuff that lasts between four to seven hours. But the game’s big sell lies in co-op.
You get to choose four levels with an online buddy and this features a lot more action than the exploration-focused single-player campaign. Enemies and monsters come at your team in increasingly difficult waves as you progress through a level. Think of it as Horde mode in Gears of Wars – except with VR and holding a pseudo laser gun to elevate your experience.
Intriguingly, while you can choose to play the game sitting down, it’s far more interesting to play the game standing up, as players are required to physically turn around if they want to look in a direction.
Impulse Gear also added some cool touches to immerse you in the VR world further. One highlight is the way you change weapons in-game. Switching to the secondary weapon on your ‘back’, for instance, requires you to move the VR Aim Controller upwards – as if you are storing your weapon onto your back. Similarly, picking up a new weapon requires you to physically set the VR Aim Controller down onto the floor to swap it.
The developer could have gone the easy route by making a weapon change with the touch of a button press, but these small touches are a rewarding experience.
The VR Aim Controller itself feels solid in the hands despite its feathery weight. The multiple buttons and trigger does give the impression of a mashed up Dual Shock 4 and Move controllers, but the PS4 only recognizes it as a standalone peripheral – it doesn’t function as a Dual Shock 4 nor as a Move controller. Despite the array of button/ trigger placements all over the gun, they were quite easy to find despite my vision being hidden by the PS VR headset.
While it’s possible to play the game with a Dual Shock 4 controller, but the new gun controller is a big evolution leap over its predecessor – the PS Move Sharp Shooter that was released for the PS3. The downside to all this, however, is cost. The VR Aim Controller is available for US$59.99 separately (or RM449 as a game and controller bundle). It’s a great accessory for Farpoint, but Sony needs to be cautious to not let it become another Play Station Move – one of the company’s high-profile failed accessories. A peripheral is only as good as the games that support it after all.
Farpoint is one of the most fun and engaging co-op games I have played with the PS VR. Sony and Impulse Gear have churned out a genuine triple-A blockbuster and I dare say the game is already one of our ‘Best VR Game of the Year’ contenders.
Now, excuse me while I head back to killing some alien spider scums with my online buddy.
CONCLUSION VR treatment for an FPS is a no brainer, but good co-op and physical immersion gameplay make it a must have.
Laugh all you want, but the new VR Aim Controller is essential to turn a good VR game into a great VR game.
The co-op multiplayer mode in Farpoint takes VR gaming into another level of interactivity.