QuantumDelta and Wan5 haven’t played as much of EVE: Valkyrie as you might think. As two of the world’s highest ranking players for CCP Games’ Oculus Rift-headlining multiplayer dogfighter, I’d prepared myself for a staggering number of hours logged when I asked their play times at EVE Fanfest 2016.
“Roughly about 55 hours, possibly,” Wan says with a satisfied shrug and a nod. Even Delta is taken aback by the two-digit number, which makes it all the more surprising when he reveals that he’s played around 30 hours, though both also poured more into earlier Alpha testing. Granted, it hasn’t even been a month since launch, and both cite unavoidable reasons such as work for those totals. They even agree on the Oculus Rift’s shipping delay, noting the small player base is holding it back right now. Even they don’t have their CV1s yet, and are playing on DK2s.
Still, I’d expected two of the world’s best players – QuantumDelta is #3 while Wan5 is #1 – to have spent more time inside the frantic flight combat game. Each can add another 5 minutes onto their playtimes, though, as they’re both fresh from battle, having dominated a match at the Valkyrie booth just before we spoke.
The twists keep coming; neither of them are especially massive EVE Online players. Delta describes his relationship with the MMO as “on and off”, while Wan5 recalls playing it for two weeks “years ago”. For the former, it was about filling a hole left by Volition‘s obscure 1998 space combat game, Descent: FreeSpace – The Great War, of which he recalls “Simple, arcadey physics where skills makes you king.” Wan, on the other hand, refers to a more contemporary and relatable influence: Battlestar Galactica. It’s not hard to see why sci-fi epics would draw you to Valkyrie’s cinematic flair.
But the game isn’t just about simple wish fulfilment, as much as it delivers on that factor. “It is a hard game to instantly pick up and be as good as someone who has played for even two hours,” Delta explains. “But there’s a bit of a plateau after that.”
So what does it take to be the best EVE: Valkyrie player? “Quick reactions,” states Wan, “and being able to assess the position you’re in and being able to target the right ships.” Delta agrees, noting that he’s often trying to assess where a player will be next rather than simply chasing after them with the camera.
This advice strikes a chord with me; I’ve played a handful of Valkyrie matches, usually at events with first-time players, and the tactic of shooting into the middle of a map, holding down break to enable faster turns and then desperately spinning around to keep up with a circling enemy has done me well. When you’re playing against experienced pilots, though, the pair explain that that tactic literally wouldn’t fly.
“If you behave like that, you’re dead.” Delta states as a matter of fact.
He knowingly gestures to Wan, whose instinctive reply is just as cold: “You see someone going slow, you divert, take them out, go back to what you were doing.” It’s as simple as that. “It’s a real easy kill.”
Neither player is out for those easy kills, though. Both note that EVE: Valkyrie’s best battles are found in taking on players of a similar skill level that employ different tactics. These two identify as ‘aggressive’ players, but note there’s something to be said for being a ‘survivor’, staying alive and playing for the team. Delta even confidently claims that chasing some of these players around is the most fun he’s had in a game, period.
Ferocious fighters they may be, but QuantumDelta and Wan5 are warmly accepted as part of an intimate community right now. Both are given shout outs during a Fanfest presentation on the game’s upcoming Carrier Assault mode, and after we wrap up a number of CCP members – including CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson – gladly stand and chat with them about their experiences. Wan notes, though, that they want to see everyone put forward their own suggestions for the game, and that it’s not fair to shape it around the thoughts of just its best players.
But if they were to mould it in their own vision, Delta and Wan both know which direction they’d take Valkyrie: eSports. They want to make it more accommodating for live streaming with commentators and bring it more in line with something like League of Legends, a meteoric bar that they both think it can reach. It’s not dependent on software alone, though, as the high barrier to entry for VR tech is also holding it back right now. That’s why both players are so excited for the upcoming PlayStation VR version.
That’s the long term dream for both, but in the nearer future they’re both excited to play the upcoming Carrier Assault mode, which will arrive as a free update around summer time. It sees players try and take down a giant enemy carrier craft and defend their own over the course of three stages. They’re hungry for more too; Wan wants to see an oft-requested racing mode integrated while Delta dreams of an all-on-one mode in which one player tries to survive as long as possible, earning points for every second they’re alive.
Mostly, though, they’re both looking forward to creating more great moments within the first superb VR multiplayer game. When I ask for stories, Wan doesn’t provide a specific moment, but the very reason he thinks EVE: Valkyrie is so special: “It’s especially exhilarating to survive when every alarm in your ship is going berserk. If you can get somebody and lure them behind cover and then turn around and block them you do get that “Yeah!” moment every time. Steam coming up, beeping red lights, flashing alarm, but you still manage to get away. You do get the adrenaline rush.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.