Dean Abdou reports from the PlayStation VR London Showcase Press Event…
It was a beautiful sunny day in London but for me I was led underground to try out some exclusive VR content for the PlayStation VR.
During the event we were presented with various titles that will be releasing on the PlayStation VR. Several were available to try out at this showcase but the three games that I found had the best VR experience were Statik, The Persistence and the highly anticipated Farpoint. All of these games demonstrated that there is quite a bright future ahead for PSVR.
After being led down the stairs to this underground lair we were immediately greeted with a VR David Attenborough experience called First Life David Attenborough. This gave us an educational tour of what kind of life existed on the Earth way before man or even dinosaurs. Next to this booth was the VR YouTube player where there were various options of VR videos to choose from but instinctively I went straight for the new Gorillaz track Saturnz Barz.
Of course this was all just a mini taster session of what to come from the whole event. We moved on to the next VR exhibition which was a FPS survival game called The Persistence. This is a co-operative game where one player with the VR headset is on a ship infested with mutant workers and his objective is to make it to the end of the map safely with the help of other players who are able to play along with a tablet. The game supports up to 4 extra players on tablets and they all have the ability to either help the main player get to the end safely, or they can decide to not help in order for them to earn more points for themselves within the game.
When I was handed the tablet I decided to play it nice and help the main player through the map. Tablet users have the ability to find out what is in each room on the map, see where all the enemies and traps are, highlight the enemies for the main player to see and even be able to lure the enemies into any traps that you find. Although you aren’t immersed in the world with a VR headset it was still highly enjoyable being able to play the game in another way and seeing your actions take place on the screen.
It is a whole different experience when you play as the main player with the VR headset. You quickly learn that you can’t navigate the ship without the help of someone else on a tablet and it becomes this really enjoyable and immersive co-op experience. As the main player you have various abilities and weapons which you can find around the ship. One of your abilities is being able to teleport across rooms but this is limited, you have to be smart with how often you use teleport and when you use it. With my teammate marking out all the enemies and guiding me to all the bonuses and weapons I was able to make it to the end of the mission safely… OK I died twice from stepping on traps but we eventually got there. One thing to note is that when you die, all your experience and points get transferred over to your next life so you don’t have to completely start all over.
In the next room over was Starblood Arena which is an arena shooter. You can choose from nine different ships to fight in and each of them have their own unique pilot, play style and load out. After going through all the ships and pilots I picked my character and hoped into a single player Carnage deathmatch which essentially was a hectic free for all. The countdown hits zero and all ships are flying around each other firing missiles and all sorts of lasers. As for me, I’m struggling to get to grips with how I even fly my ship. Eventually I was moving but admittedly it was a real difficult task flying this ship around the map. I found myself more often than not getting completely disorientated when flying and easily losing any minor bit of handle I had of the ship. When I came across other players in the match it was straightforward to take them out, the gun controls worked similar to any other shooter. It was just flying the ship that I had the most difficulty with but this was still an enjoyable VR experience. I was only playing against the AI but this game has the potential of being a lot more fun when playing against other real world players. With all the flying around though it wasn’t too long before the motion sickness hit me.
Now comes the puzzle portion of the showcase. As soon as the PlayStation reps told me that I’ll be trying out some puzzle VR experiences in the next room I jumped with excitement. I entered the room, put on the VR headset and I let the PlayStation rep know that I was a puzzle master. A minute in and I discovered that I was definitely not a puzzle master. Statik places you in a lab with a condescending scientist who has locked both your hands in some bizarre puzzle box lock and you’re objective is to solve the puzzles around this contraception to set yourself free. You can rotate the PlayStation controller to look around the puzzle box and see all the various different types of puzzles on there which you have to solve. Using the VR headset you can look around the room to see if there are any clues that can help you to finding your escape. To interact with the puzzles on the box it’s mostly trial and error where you have to pretty much hit every button on the controller to discover what each one does on this intricate puzzle box. Whilst trying to solve these puzzles the condescending scientist will constantly bring you down whenever you feel like you’re doing well and offers no form of help except to make you feel really dumb.
Finally it was time for the star exhibit and that was Farpoint. Ever since its reveal at E3 2016 I’ve been intrigued to see how this game would play out being a complete VR experience. To cut straight to the point, Farpoint is definitely one of the the most impressive FPS shooters I’ve played in VR. Randy Nolta, one of the co-founders and developers at Impulse Gear, was my co-op partner for the demo. After having a quick rundown of the controls we jumped into the world of Farpoint.
The game starts off placing both players at the home base. Whilst Randy was explaining the mission objective to me I was too busy knocking everything off from my desk with my amazing looking alien weapon. Eventually I snapped into action and we left the base to explore this mysterious planet that we’ve crashed on. Farpoint makes use of the PS VR aim controller and I was very impressed with how easy the controls were to learn and use. Of course the trigger on the gun was to fire your weapon, you have a small button on the side to reload, mini joystick at the front for you to move your avatar, flip the aim controller up to switch your weapons and there you have it.
It wasn’t too long before we were encountered by some enemy drones. I brought up my aim controller to aim down the sights and my mind was so immersed into the experience that I was even closing my left eye in order to aim with my dominant eye down the sights. It truly felt like you were on this planet and fighting to survive whatever this new world threw at you. One by one Randy and I were taking out these drones quickly clearing the first area of the mission. Next up Andy shows me one of the alien weapons which fires powerful explosive spikes. Everytime we would stop to talk to each other I couldn’t help but laugh when seeing his avatar nod along to the words he was saying. Again it was just a immensely immersive experience.
After that quick chat we moved on to the next area. We entered a building and a force field appeared around it trapping both of us in there. I follow Randy to a small ledge and slowly giant spiders start pouring into the building. Randy decides to head down to the ground and I stay up top thinking I’ll be safer on higher ground. I was very wrong. I was quickly taken down and unfortunately it wasn’t long until Randy was taken out too. So ends the demo and we’re back in the real world. Farpoint was truly an incredible VR experience. The PS VR headset in conjunction with the aim controller made this a truly unique experience and it was very easy to get lost and immersed into this world. If you’re an avid FPS player you will find Farpoint an easy game to pick up and play.
That brings us to the end of the PS VR showcase. There was a lot on offer showing what the PS VR is capable of and just the different range of genres that VR can play in. Whilst The Persistence offered a unique and enjoyable co-op experience the real star of the showcase was Farpoint. Dropping us into an unknown world for us to traverse and survive and using the aim controller to really immerse the players in the survival instinct. Farpoint succeeds in being a VR title that core gamers will be able to pick up and play like any other FPS title.