I don’t remember when it happened exactly, but at some point in my 10-15 minute cooperative multiplayer demo for Farpoint, I forgot I was holding a little plastic toy gun in my hands. Instead, my brain really started to think I was holding a large, powerful rifle, and I was actually standing on an alien planet, wearing a space suit, side-by-side with my partner, as we shot down hordes of disgusting creatures. The fact that I don’t remember when the illusion essentially evaporated is a great testament not only to the quality of Farpoint as a VR shooter, but also to the quality of the PlayStation Aim controller as a peripheral.
Yesterday, Sony invited UploadVR and other members of the media to a private showcase of upcoming PlayStation VR (PSVR) titles. There were five games in total: Farpoint, Starblood Arena, Fantastic Contraption, Statik, and a brand new game, The Persistence. We’ve already seen bits of Farpoint’s single player campaign at previous shows, like E3 and Develop: Brighton, so this demo was squarely focused on the cooperative multiplayer action, which was just announced earlier this week.
Generally, Farpoint isn’t unlike most other VR shooters you may have seen. The game is played from a first-person perspective, you can move your head around with a fully position tracked headset, and you’ll be busy shooting down aliens and other monstrosities as you explore a strange new planet. It’s a full locomotion game too, with thumbstick movement. The entire game can be purchased as a standalone product ($49.99) and enjoyed from start to finish with just a standard DualShock 4 controller. But I can’t imagine playing it that way.
Make no mistake: Farpoint was designed, from the ground up, with the PS Aim controller in mind — that’s why it’s being sold as a bundle as well ($79.99) and it’s the first game to officially support the device. We haven’t had a chance to try the game with just a gamepad yet, but aiming with your face pales in comparison to holding an actual weapon in your hands.
At first glance, the PS Aim isn’t impressive. The white and gray plastic is bland, lacks flashy features, doesn’t appear functional at all, and sort of still looks like a prototype. Ultimately though, that’s irrelevant because once you slide the PSVR headset on, how the controller looks no longer matters. All that matters is how it works and how it feels and luckily Sony very precisely nailed each of those points.
I placed one hand at the end of the gun, holding it in place to access the front-facing trigger buttons and analog stick for forward movement. The back handle had my primary fire trigger, as well as a secondary analog stick for rotation that was disabled for this demo. It fit in my hand firmly with a slightly improved design over past models and it really did feel like I was holding the in-game weapons. The tracking worked nearly-flawlessly (the camera seemed to lose the gun for a second every now and then, but it was far from disruptive.)
For the demo I jumped into the game with a developer at my side. Our avatars had full-body tracking, but only the arms and heads really moved accurately. The torsos were modeled as an approximation of how the player moved and the legs were animated as if it were a normal game avatar. The stiffness you see in most VR character models was mostly gone, but you can still tell when a character is controlled by a person versus an A.I.
I had a standard automatic rifle as my base gun that would overheat if shot too much consecutively. I could switch weapons by lifting the gun to my right shoulder, simulating the movement of grabbing the other rifle on my back. This gun shot concentrated and powerful bursts, so it required high accuracy. Eventually I switched it out for a burst plasma rifle that also had a shield on the front for blocking incoming enemy bullets.
After we proceeded towards the center of the level, enemies started to appear. At first they were slowly flying by, then larger enemies crawled out that launched large sacks of venom at us through the air. I found myself cradling the PS Aim against my shoulder and holding the sights up to my eye so I could line up the perfect shot. Finding the red dot at the end of my scope was more difficult than I had anticipated and certainly a step or two above simply holding L2 to aim in a traditional shooter.
After we cleared the first wave the second wave overran us in a matter of minutes. Rockets were flying, foot soldiers were swarming, and tiny critters scurried along the floor and leaped on our faces. What began as a light-hearted action game quickly ramped up to a pseudo-horror experience as we were brutally murdered by disgusting alien creatures.
Luckily no one died from friendly fire at least.
Farpoint is shaping up to be one of PSVR’s best and most exciting upcoming titles. The robust 5+ hour single player campaign combined with a separate and fleshed out cooperative multiplayer mode delivers more content than most VR-only titles in these early years of the industry. We’ve only seen small slices thus far, but the quality of the game and the power of the Aim controller have us excited to try more.
Are you looking forward to Farpoint on PSVR later this year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!