End Space is one of the most ambitious games I’ve seen in the VR space thus far. What started out as a proof-of-concept on Google Cardboard under a different name and eventually became a best-selling Gear VR title, is now released on PSVR and improved enough to take advantage of the console-powered VR headset. Not bad for a game studio that was literally built from the ground up using pizza boxes.
The premise with End Space is simple. You’re a skilled pilot in the United Trade Consortium and must fend off relentless attacks from the Tartarus Liberation Front’s insurgents on a series of dangerous missions. Whereas games like EVE: Valkyrie focus on providing competitive multiplayer dogfighting thrills, End Space is a strictly single player adventure.
Missions are separated by a main hub in which you choose which to embark on. Upon completion you’ll unlock new missions, earn credits, and try to earn a better score on previous missions. It’s an addictive loop of challenging yourself to be more efficient as you come back to old missions after upgrading your ship later in the game.
There are handful of upgrades you can unlock by spending credits, such as changing your default lasers and missile loadouts. Most weapons in the game are fired using an energy reserve that you’ve got to lay off of for a while to recharge. At first it can feel pretty slow until you get the hang of combat. In most cases you don’t wane to hold down R2 while firing because that will drain your energy too quickly, so getting good at chasing enemies, burst-firing, and mixing up your approach is important.
For a game like this there’s a good amount of content, especially if you go back to replay completed missions to get more credits. It won’t last many people dozens of hours or anything but the levels are well-designed ad fun to play. Controls while flying feel great, if a bit slow compared to other space flight games. I found myself missing the adrenaline-fueled intensity of flight in games like EVE: Valkyrie. Some of the weapons lack the punch found in the likes of the Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission. But alas, End Space is not a Frankenstein’s monster of my ideal space combat game.
End Space isn’t the most polished space combat game you’ll find either. Every now and then I was reminded that it got its start as a mobile VR title with some noticeably flat textures and a lack of need to utilize the PSVR’s positional tracking. One of the best features though is that, by default, your main laser guns are shot with R2 and aimed using your head movement. Similar to the lock-on missiles from EVE: Valkyrie, but this time it’s for literally anything you shoot. That really helps keep the game more active than it might be otherwise.
Update: End Space recently got re-released on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive PC VR headsets with a series of minor updates and improvements. According to Lead Developer Justin Wasilenko:
With the success of End Space on Gear VR we’ve been listening to player’s demands for an enhanced and expanded release of the game specifically for the high-end VR platforms. After a year of hard work we’re very pleased to be delivering a Rift and Vive version of the game with new campaign missions, controls schemes and a host of graphical improvements. We’ve even added two new motion controller based options for Oculus Touch and Vive controllers.
The new updates undoubtedly make the Rift and Vive versions slightly better overall, but it is still the same core game.
End Space isn’t the best VR space combat game I’ve played. It lacks the polish of similar games like House of the Dying Sun and doesn’t have multiplayer dogfights like EVE: Valkyrie, but what it lacks in professional touch it more than makes up for with ambition and a strong core design principle. Fans of space combat that are yearning for a single player affair on PSVR (or Gear VR) should definitely check this one out.