The first major PSVR game is here. Designed from the ground up for the system and bundled with a surprisingly good controller, Farpoint puts you on a hostile alien planet for a full campaign. Despite some shortcomings, the feeling of holding an accurate weapon is there.
Firstly we should talk about the PS Aim controller. It is frankly excellent. Despite the colour and early learning look, it is a solid and expensive feeling bit of tech. It is far from just a move controller in a fancy holder. It has full dual shock 4 controls force feedback and a micro USB charging point. In your hand, it feels natural and despite being an approximation of an assault rifle, it is the weight of a real world pistol meaning future uses could have you just holding the back and firing one-handed. When you use it in a VR game the sight and movement of the gun in the real world are perfectly mirrored in your virtual world, adding the much needed final piece of immersion needed to suspend your disbelief. If you thought adding move controllers to PSVR was good, the aim takes it to the next level and opens up hundreds of possibilities. We can only hope they are realised.
As for the game itself, Farpoint is a nice surprise. You have to pinch yourself and realise that they are going for a full game experience as when you load up the game with the rifle in hand you are expecting to go immediately into the shooting. Farpoint guides you through a story element and a small stroll on the alien planet. Think the wasteland after the nuke goes off in Modern Warfare 4 and you will know what to expect. Despite initial disappointment that you are unable to begin blasting things with your new toy, the game is sensibly getting you used to the movement system and acclimatising you to prevent motion sickness etc. It would certainly be possible to make yourself sick as you have full movement controls. The left analogue stick located on the foregrip of the PS Aim deals with movement in this game as it would with any shooter. The right stick is disabled for you to control the looking with your gun and headset.
In the early stages this does give you a feeling, like you are controlling a golf cart while you shoot and aim out the roof, or you are the turret of a slow moving tank but when the action picks up and you are used to it the feeling goes and you are on the planet, fighting to survive. This immersion continues with excellent sound design and clever use of sand and particle effects to hide the draw distance.
The distance is something that really needs to be experienced rather than explained. The beauty of Farpoint is the distance between you and the enemy. By now you will know the main enemy type is Arachnids like you would find in Starship Troopers. They can come at you in waves or in a larger variety. The fact that the draw distance is well managed is the games hidden gem. You see the developers use this to show you impending threats early. While there are a few instances where you are surprised by aliens up close, the majority of them are in the distance to test your aim. Here the PS Aim lives up to its name.
You actually have to aim down the iron sights to be accurate. I cannot stress this enough. You treat the in-game gun like a real gun and aim down the sights. There are plenty of opportunities in the game to test your twitch reflexes without trying it at an unrealistic distance. If something is so far away that you would need to steady your aim in the real world, then steady it in the virtual one. It is a technological marvel to actually bring the iron sight close to one eye, shut the other and suddenly see the enemy clear in the holo-sight. The thought of playing a COD or Battlefield game with iron sighting like this is too strong to ignore. Unfortunately, when you start thinking that, Farpoint begins to nag in the back of your head. It may be personal preference, but the PS Aim controller should not be solely used for shooting critters. Without spoilers, there are other enemy types in Farpoint but the majority are monsters. You just have the feeling that the tech could be doing so much more. This is unfair on the game as Farpoint is solid.
The character animations are excellent. In fact, the facial animations are much better than expected, with the other characters able to convey emotion in cutscenes and in video snippets. If only Mass Effect Andromeda had taken the same care. The storyline is again solid if not spectacular with predictable beats and likeable characters. There is enough intrigue to get you to the end and the cutscenes between levels have enough VR elements if you aren’t enjoying the story.
The levels while open enough to give you a great view in VR are designed to lead you ever forward, saving you the issue of pathfinding when you are trying to get your VR legs. When you encounter aliens there are enough types and attack patterns to keep you surprised and switching weapons. The weapons are switched with a brilliant sling of the PS Aim over your shoulder. When you bring it back the gun has changed to a shotgun or others and there’s no denying the first time you do this it really makes you smile. The secondary fire of grenades and rockets are equally satisfying and you should rip through the campaign in around 5 hours. CO-OP and score attack modes are available but the real reason for buying is the PS Aim controller.
If you can get in a bundle you will get the controller for around £20/$30 on top of the normal game price. The potential is there for a truly revolutionary game to follow so now is the time to get the hardware. Just be prepared to want more. It’s the story of all PSVR really. Potential that leaves you wanting more.
You can get it here
Farpoint + Sony PlayStation VR Aim Controller (PSVR)