VR has a big problem. While the platform has infinite possibilities, including those beyond gaming, the VR-landscape has been disappointing. We’ve seen some impressive tech demos and arcade like games, but VR is missing a wholly cohesive game experience. Most game experiences typically involve just standing in one place the whole time and interacting with the world around you. It’s cool the first time in VR, but it’s getting boring. VR needs a killer-app, one that can take a full game experience and give it to us through VR. This is where Farpoint comes in.
Farpoint is a first-person shooter VR game that unshackles the player from the on-rails design of other FPS VR games like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood or The London Heist. Players will be able to move and strafe within the game’s hostile alien world. This is a legitimate first-person shooter made for VR, and it is one of the most exciting VR games playable at E3 2016.
A lot of this is accomplished with the new PS VR Aim Controller. Developer Impulse Games worked closely with Sony to develop this peripheral, and boy does it work. Do not confuse the Aim Controller with the Sharpshooter peripheral from last-generation. While the Sharpshooter required users to insert a Move and Navigation controller, the Aim Controller comes with everything already built in. All the motion and navigation sensors are there alongside two analog sticks, a d-pad, a button for reloading, a trigger button, and L1 and L2 buttons.
It is infinitely more precise than the Sharpshooter, offering 1-to-1 tracking. Pulling the controller up to the eye brought the assault rifle straight to the eye, allowing easy access to the weapon’s holographic sight. Even while strafing aiming and firing was extremely accurate. Aiming, strafing, firing, and even just wandering around the world feels absolutely natural, and it was easy to feel more immersed in this world.
A big part of the immersion are the guns. Only two were available, the assault rifle and shotgun, but both felt amazing to shoot. Aiming-down-sights on the assault rifle felt good, but it was even more satisfying to fire a round from the grenade launcher and use the Aim Controller to guide it towards an unsuspecting enemy. The shotgun felt powerful with each shot capable of spraying bug guts all over the place.
As accurate as the PS VR Aim Controller is, it’s not perfect. It’s possible to switch guns by swinging the controller over your shoulder, but the motion sometimes wouldn’t work. You can use the d-pad to switch between weapons, which worked better but broke the immersion. The reload button, situated on the right side of the controller, was also rather difficult to find and hit.
The demo was short, lasting roughly ten minutes, but the demo did show off a brief snippet of the story. You are part of a team that crash-landed on a hostile alien planet. The only way to survive is to explore and uncover the planet’s secrets and find your team. The story seems intriguing, but there does need to be more enemy variety. The demo contained about three different types of alien spiders. Considering that Farpoint will have a full campaign, there should be a lot more enemy variety in the final build.
Visually, Farpoint isn’t the prettiest VR game ever created, but it still looks good. The environment’s many rocks and cliffs are pleasantly detailed, and the little details on the guns make them feel like real objects. Squint at a few objects, though, and there are a few unpleasant visuals. The ground, in particular, looks noticeably low-res and 2D. It’s not immersion breaking when looking at it from a distance, but it becomes a problem when viewed up close.
Speaking with Impulse Games, the developer did confirm that players don’t have to use the Aim Controller to play the game. Other input methods, like the Dualshock 4, will be usable. Farpoint, however, will be a VR exclusive game. Impulse Games has no intention of making it playable without the PS VR headset. They would not confirm if there would be any type of co-op or competitive multiplayer. They didn’t, however, rule anything out.
Despite some issues, Farpoint might be the most exciting VR experience yet. While there are VR experiences that look better visually, none feels as complete an experience as Farpoint. Being able to move around a virtual 3D environment makes Farpoint feels like a complete game rather than just an on-rails experience. The combination of the very accurate Aim Controller is just icing on the already delicious cake. Farpoint is exciting and a great leap forward in VR gaming.
Farpoint is out sometime in the near future exclusively on PS VR. Sony has yet to announce a release date, price, or list of games compatible with the PS VR Aim Controller.