Gareth Harmer goes hands-on with CCP's incredible space dogfighting shooter.
I’m staring down a metal tube, waiting for the launch signal. The brief respite gives me a chance to look around, and get a feel for the cockpit that surrounds me. I’ve sat in this seat before and, this time, I’m going to kick some ass. I might not know what lies outside the carrier’s launch bay, but I’m certain of one thing: there are noobs that need pwning, and I aim to deliver.
The klaxon sounds and, like a flash, I’m out there. Everything seems clearer, from the asteroids rushing past to the Caldari carrier spewing fighters of its own. I grin, punching the missile lock, and pivot my head to point at one of them. With the reticule switching yellow, I let loose a firestorm of missiles. Two more volleys and he’s toast. This is going to be easy.
There are three fighters on each side, and I’m attracting attention. The Caldari look set to make me the meat in a missile sandwich, but the Minmatar don’t give up so easily. With missile locks squealing, I look for a way to ditch the fun heading my way.
Something in the middle distance grabs my attention. It looks Amarr from the shape of it, but this isn’t the time to be discussing architecture. It’s a tight fit but I’m inside the thing. Not much to look at, but it’s a little bit of safety.
I realize I’ve been holding my breath. Whoosh…
Out again. The clock’s ticking down and my rustbucket needs to get more points on the board. I’ve not been spotted yet, so I pick off a target with the missiles. But while I chuckle at the easy kill, someone else sneaks in a missile lock. Looking down at my radar, it’s going to be tight to avoid, and I try to hug an asteroid to shake it. And then…
Match over. The Oculus Rift HD Prototype comes off, and I blink in the darkened room. Looking around, I can see that everyone else is wearing the same smile. I may have played E-VR at EVE FanFest, but EVE: Valkyrie built on that feeling in an incredible way. It’s worthy of every expletive-laden adjective and is, simply, the most exciting thing I played at Gamescom.
Oculus Rift, you have found your killer app.
The game started out as little more than a tech demo, put together using assets from EVE Online in little more than six weeks before EVE FanFest. Encouraged by the feedback, the small team then took it to E3, where it picked up a handful of awards. For CCP Executive Producer Jon Lander, that showing convinced them to turn the prototype into a full game.
In the intervening months, much has changed. The screen-door effect has gone, removing that feeling that I’m constantly peering through a mesh. I didn’t feel nauseous this time either, although that might be because I enjoyed the Icelandic hospitality a little too much the night before my previous play-through. There have also been other subtler tweaks to further improve gameplay, from the new radar to the target locking reticule.
Like their PlayStation 3 shooter Dust 514, I expect that EVE: Valkyrie will link into the same universe in some shape or form. During an interview later that week, I asked Lander if he’d share how the two games will work together.
“Nope!” Leaning back, he grinned, knowing that a great secret was being dangled just out-of-reach. I’ll be bringing more of Lander’s comments on everything CCP in the next few weeks.
EVE: Valkyrie will be out sometime in 2014. In other words, not soon enough.
Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer, Senior Contributing Editor
Follow me on Twitter @Gazimoff