EVE: Valkyrie Review – Gorgeous, if rather empty space
Once the PS VR – or indeed any VR gaming headset – became a going concern, it was a pretty safe bet that flight simulators would make a comeback.
These games were incredibly popular in the mid-to-late 90s thanks to the likes of F117A Nighthawk, Wing Commander and of course, the X-Wing and TIE-Fighter games. But as console gaming exploded in mid 00’s they faded from prominence as a host of shooters and RPGs jockeyed for position in the sales charts.
VR makes flight sims not only appealing, but outright mouth-watering. A VR headset rig complete with decent headphones has the ability to obliterate the outside world completely, replacing it with whatever reality developers can imagine. Toss in that piloting a flying vehicle while seated in a cockpit isn’t as experience-breaking as using a thumbstick to ‘walk’ around an environment and flight sims are a natural fit for VR.
Star Wars: Battlefront tossed players an X-Wing VR mission late last year, but CCP was out of the gate first with EVE: Valkryie, a dogfighting flight simulator set in its murky universe of New Eden.
EVE: Valkyrie Review – It’s EVE, Jim, but not as we know it
EVE: Valkyrie bears little to no resemblance to EVE: Online, other than the fact that it’s set in space and it looks gorgeous. There’s no intrigue, double-dealing or need to worry if your allies will turn on you at the drop of a hat; EVE: Valkyrie is a straight up arcade dogfighting game and visually stunning one at that.
The first time players find themselves hurtling through space behind the controls of a fighter, it’s likely their jaws will fall open. The soundtrack and movement in the game really do an amazing job of making the player feel like they’re piloting a fighter. There’s something inherently magical about staring out the sides of a cockpit, seeing gargantuan space cruisers and space stations off to one side. Between the presentation and the superb score and the occasional rumble in the dual-shock, players will feel like New Eden has swallowed them whole.
EVE: Valkyrie Review – Death is never the end
The player takes on the role of a pilot who is part of a space pirate crew known as The Valkyrie. In the single-player content they’re put through a brief story about how they were first blown up in space and how their consciousness was uploaded to a clone – the body they now find themselves inhabiting. This is all straight out of the EVE lore, where humans have managed to beat death by transferring their consciousness into a series of clones. So players have a neat explanation for their respawn when they get ganked (just as they do in EVE: Online).
As is the case with most games that involve blasting opponents in a multiplayer mode, the single-player content is essentially a tutorial. Through a series of missions players will learn how to brake, thrust, outmanoeuvre enemies and (most importantly) the weapons of various ships they’ll pilot. The VR headset, incidentally, is also an aiming mechanism for certain attacks; follow and enemy with your eyes and you can lock onto them with a missile attack, for example.
The game’s controls are incredibly easy to get to grips with and this may explain why EVE: Valkyrie’s single-player campaign is almost criminally short. Players will complete it in less than half an hour and then the only reason to revisit it would be to rinse it for challenges and Trophies. This is really quite a shame as EVE has one of the richest and most intriguing lore of any gaming IP out there. As it stands, EVE: Valkyrie doesn’t even scratch the surface and – even worse – the single-player mode ends just as when it feels the story is about to kick up a notch.
EVE: Valkyrie Review – Multiplayer
CCP is clearly banking on the game’s online fragfest to keep players hooked, but it’s hard to be convinced this is a multiplayer experience that players will want to drown themselves in – like say Overwatch or Battlefield 1.
To begin with, there are only three match-types. There’s Team Deathmatch, which is a straight head-to-head affair, Control, which plays out like a flight sim version of Domination, and Carrier Assault, in which one team tries to take out a massive ship through a series of mini-tasks and the other plays defence. Carrier Assault is easily the best of the bunch here, even if it owes a debt of influence to the end set piece of a certain film starring Mark Hamill in 1977.
EVE: Valkyrie Review – Pay to play
The biggest drawback in EVE: Valkyrie isn’t its thin content – as has been mentioned, the stunning presentation is a decent counterbalance to this. No, instead, it’s the fact the game is teeming with micro-transactions for items that are both cosmetic and actually useful – such as implants that boost your pilot’s performance and more powerful ships.
Players can earn in-game currency by grinding away in the multiplayer, but in the short term, it’s quicker to buy more of it. The main issue here is that the boosts and ships do give an edge to players willing to buy them so those who are prepared to open their real-world wallets will soon jump ahead of their competitors. For a game sold at full price, this seems more than a little cheeky.
EVE: Valkyrie Review – Verdict
In all truthfulness, it’s the awesome presentation that sells EVE: Valkyrie as an experience. Strip away the VR and what you’re left with is a rather thin game filled with micro-transactions that one would expect to be Free-To-Play.
It’s more worth your while than PS VR Worlds (the PS VR’s tech-demo) and the swoon-worthy experience of dogfighting in space through VR can’t be overstated. But ultimately, EVE: Valkyrie is kind of like being shot into space: the view is beautiful for about ten minutes and then you realise you’ve started to run out of oxygen.
- EVE: Valkyrie was reviewed on a PS4 with a PS VR. A review copy was provided by the publisher.