If there’s been one thing that has prevailed at Gamescom then it would be the Oculus Rift. Demo stations down on the public floor have had queues snaking around for days and, backstage in the business area, there’s been much excitement bounded about by both small and big developers. One of these big developers being CCP, who were one of the biggest monetary contributors to the original Kickstarter campaign. For the past few expos they have shopped around a tech demo named Eve-VR which proved very popular. Thanks to the feedback, the game has turned into a fully fledged release announced here at Gamescom: Eve Valkyrie.
This now marked the third time I had played with an Oculus Rift: The first being Surgeon Simulator at Rezzed and the second being SkyDIEving a couple of days ago. Eve Valkyrie is the first game that has made me sit up and literally be in wonder at what my eyes could see. My eyes have been deflowered. Each time I’ve used the Oculus I have enjoyed it more and more, but Eve Valkyrie has blasted into first place because of two reasons: Gameplay and Hardware. Surgeon Simulator was funny, but it wasn’t exactly all that visually exciting. SkyDIEving was an amazing experience, but not a fully fledged game yet. Also both of those two games were displayed on older Rift hardware, whereas Eve Valkyrie was on the new HD unit. You would think that just some extra pixels wouldn’t make a huge difference – but it is honestly like going from me in the morning after waking up, to me after a coffee and with my glasses now on. It’s crystal clear. Scarily clear. Pants wettingly clear. I’m not a space jet pilot! But I sure as hell feel like one.
Eve Valkyrie is a space flight sim where you rush out of a tube and then are free to travel in space. Well you would be free if it wasn’t for three players on another team trying to track down you and your other two squad members. You zip around space, loop upside down, shoot lasers, shoot lock on missiles – all in first person and all with the Rift. I feel like I can’t describe how well this matches the Rift if you’ve not played with one. It’s not like you’re playing a game. You’re aware that you’re pressing buttons, but if you look down to your torso then you see your ingame body pressing buttons. You don’t see you – you see yourself dogfighting Top Gun style as if it were real, this all being helped by some spectacular graphics and particle effects.
Unfortunately it was all over too soon. The match was only a few minutes long and then it was back to me sat in a booth in my red checked shirt, rather than me in a super awesome space suit. IN SPACE. It’s a weird situation where so many games are available – or at least in development – for a device that only developers are supposed to have. The public isn’t meant to have access to an Oculus Rift in their homes yet, but already if I grabbed one I could play a ton of retail games using it straight away. If I hadn’t paid for myself to get to Gamescom and stop in Cologne, then after the Rift presentations I’ve been apart of this week I would’ve ordered a development kit at $300 immediately. I am hooked on Rift. I need to play all the games I own through a Rift. It is unparalleled in any other type of immersion. You don’t need a huge TV and amazing sound system. You need a Rift and a set of headphones. That is all you need so you can become the space flight fighter you want to be.
Eve Valkyrie will release in 2014.