Impulse Gear’s debut title is Farpoint VR for PlayStation VR – just how does it stack up against the platform’s other games?
You’re a rescue pilot, sent on a routine retrieval to grab a couple of astronauts from a space station, when everything goes south and you wind up stranded on an alien planet with no way of getting home. Think of it as like The Martian, but with less Matt Damon and potatoes, and more aliens.
Armed with nothing but the standard issue gun from your emergency drop pod, you must make your way through the hostile environment and take down anything that looks at you sideways, find your crew and get home safely.
Farpoint VR excels thanks to the addition of the new Aim Controller. Developed by Impulse Gear in conjunction with Sony, the Aim Controller is a new peripheral that comes bundled with Farpoint, and is shaped like a gun. It’s a comfortable setup, with most buttons in easy reach, and it’s simple enough to work out where everything is, but those with smaller hands may have slightly more difficulty grasping it (sorry).
You’ll have 1:1 tracking in-game with your weapon – meaning wherever you move the controller, your gun will move on the screen in front of you. We experienced only a few calibration issues, but they’re easily adjusted (even mid-fight) and you’re back on your feet in no time. You can find different kinds of ammo lying around for your gun, and it’s even got a handy scan mechanic that you can use to dig up new info on your surrounding environment. It’s a lot to pack into a seemingly small package, but Impulse Gear have nailed it.
The real point of difference here is in its world traversal. Where first person shooters in VR up until this point have relied on a sort of ‘teleport’ mechanic to move around the map, Farpoint will have you actually moving in-game, like a run-of-the-mill FPS. In theory, this seems like the logical next step forward, but how does it work in practice?
The answer will, unfortunately, depend on the user. VR has a history of inconsistency, in that some will experience ‘virtual reality sickness’ and some won’t. In Farpoint’s case, the fuller onscreen mobility versus the standing still in real life will most likely affect a larger portion of the population.
One thing Impulse have done to combat this is include a number of different camera options. You can use the look analog stick for different degrees of camera movement: small ‘steps’ – whole sections of the screen at a time, which can be quite jarring – bigger ‘steps’, a smooth camera rotation – similar to your standard FPS, or even just looking with the headset where you want to walk. The style of camera used will largely depend on the person playing, as everyone will have a different preference, but we’d recommend trying them all out to avoid feeling too sick. You’re gonna want to sink your teeth into this one, and that means feeling as comfortable as possible from the outset.
However, regardless of the camera setting we chose, we found ourselves taking a break every 15-20 minutes – the movement was just a little too much. Once again, that will most likely come down to individual user experience, but the ‘full locomotion’ of Farpoint is probably only worth sticking out for the hardcore VR gamer.
Once you get past the queasiness, Farpoint is genuinely enjoyable. The landscapes, though barren, are of an open, deserted planet – so that’s to be expected – and the aliens aren’t Alien-esque enough to scare the pants off you, but frightening and threatening enough that you’ll want to do away with them pretty quickly. The story – though clichéd – is believable and compelling enough to keep you interested, and is complimented by talented voice acting to the likes of Laura Bailey and Ike Amadi.
Donning a VR headset and actually holding the gun in your hands allows Farpoint VR to give you the impression that PlayStation VR was made for first person shooters. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of actually looking down the sights of your weapon and disposing of some alien scum as if you were really out there.
Platform: PS VR
Release date: May 17, 2017