Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: May 27, 2017
I was a day one adopter of PlayStation VR. Virtual reality is still tech I believe in, and when games like Farpoint come out, It bumps my enthusiasm even more. I hadn’t fired up my PSVR headset since Resident Evil VII, which is phenomenal by the way. While RE7 is great, it doesn’t utilize VR to its full potential, a sad necessity considering it was made to be played without a headset as well. RE7 was proof that large scale shooters can work in VR, Farpoint takes it one step further by upping the speed of the action and adding the Playstation, aim controller.
In Farpoint, you play as a shuttle pilot on a routine mission to escort two Scientists off of a space station. When a wormhole opens up sucking the entire station through, you’ll have to master using any weapons you can find to escape this alien planet and discover the fate of the rest of the station as well as its crew. Farpoint’s story is enough to hold your attention, but it’s far from groundbreaking. Without the virtual reality experience to boost Farpoint’s value, it tells a B level Sci-fi story. You’ll square off against giant bugs, killer robots, and humanoid aliens over the course of a five to six-hour campaign. Shooting giant spiders in VR is as cool as you would hope.
Story beats play out through video recordings, or fixed perspective cutscenes, of the two scientists you’re tasked with rescuing. Otherwise, the desert planet is pretty lonely for our lost pilot. Weapon variety is rather limited. You have a base assault rifle, shotgun, precision rifle, beam rifle, and a pretty neat alien railgun. While ammo is unlimited, you do have to manually reload all weapons, save for the assault rifle which can overheat. The assault rifle and shotgun have alternate fires, missiles, and grenades respectively that have physical ammo pickups. Set pieces aren’t crazy varied either. The world of Farpoint is a mostly a desert canyon. You’ll also explore some caves, and wreckage of alien ships and facilities. It’s still pretty impressive to look at in VR.
Farpoint’s efforts to avoid making its player’s motion sick are apparent if you know what to look for. For one, the game has no analog turn enabled by default. You’ll want to remedy this immediately. You can turn on a full range of motion, which I wouldn’t recommend as it makes me sick in seconds, or you can quickly turn a set number of degrees by flicking the control stick. The latter idea was used by Resident Evil and seems to do the trick for me. If you’re paying attention you may also notice that Farpoint’s enemies will never try and flank you, as a result you can play the whole game without having to ever turn around, by that logic maybe you don’t need to turn on analog rotation, though I imagine playing without it would get annoying fast.
PSVR games are scarce enough that I grab up most of the software that comes my way. Farpoint, seems a cut above, much like Job Simulator and Resident Evil VII, which I would argue are some of the best VR games out there. The key feature that makes Farpoint great is the new aim controller. You can play Farpoint with a standard controller, but you’s be robbing yourself of the full experience. The aim controller, which you can purchase bundled with Farpoint for $80 is an entire DualShock four retrofitted into a gun peripheral complete with move controller light tracking orb. Playing with the aim controller adds a crazy level of immersion, it’s about the same size as the in-game assault rifle and holding it up to your face to look down sights works surprisingly well. Once you get over looking like a complete moron, it’s hard not to have fun with Farpoint.
More exciting than the game itself, the doors this hardware opens are exciting to think about. If Sony could patch the Aim Controller functionality into Resident Evil VII I’d play it again in a heartbeat. A new Killzone game would be welcome to VR with this control scheme, the possibilities seem endless.
Level design can get repetitive fast; I assume making environments in VR is a lot more work than your standard game. Farpoint provides alien wreckage and caves to explore, though the scenery isn’t distinct enough to make you forget you’re just treading a linear path through a desert.
Farpoint also has online co-op, when you get a match, it’s pretty fun to shoot giant bugs with someone in VR but be prepared to wait. As far as replayability goes Farpoint is a once and done. It has no alternate pathways, and there isn’t a whole lot to miss. It’ll be a cool one to show off to the family at the holidays for sure though.
Farpoint is at its heart, another shooting gallery. It just adds a heavy narrative and some free movement. Farpoint is an awesome step in making great shooters for VR. All we need now is Time Crisis VR.