Cold. Disorientated. You awake in a clone tank. No, it's not the aftermath of a Push Square office party, this is the future and you're already dead.
EVE: Valkyrie is a strong space dogfighting sim that got quite a lot of love when it launched on the Oculus Rift, and now it deserves to get more love as it hits PlayStation VR, as the cheaper PlayStation version holds up really well compared to it's much more expensive stable-mate (whose users you can battle or team up with thanks to cross-platform play).
Taking the persona of a cloned elite fighter pilot, EVE: Valkyrie immerses you in virtual reality space combat that will fulfil any intergalactic dog fighting urges you may have. Becoming a spaceship pilot in the wider sci-fi universe of EVE sees you joining the 'Valkyrie', an outlaw band of galactic pirates, who are resurrecting clones to do their nefarious business. By nefarious business we mean shoot-up enemy spaceships great and small in a beautifully rendered universe that looks incredible and "feels" fantastic to fly around in.
From the second you fire up EVE: Valkyrie, it feels like a class act; the menus and set up – even choosing your pilot is very nicely put together. The PlayStation VR headset renders the hangars where you pick options in groovy low light detail; looking to choose which menu you require gives you the feel that you're getting a glimpse of the future right in your living room.
When you first take to the skies, you'll immediately be hit by the scale of your surroundings. Asteroids and debris will give you some practice at navigating, and then, just as you're gaping at the huge planet in the distance with a sunburst coming off it, you'll be in the thick of the fight as the enemies engage you and the adrenaline ramps up. There may not be many maps to fight out scenarios on, but each is rich in detail and offers a great deal of aerial engagement possibilities as you swoop between (or into) structures and try to get the drop on your opponents.
Looking around your cockpit takes a little getting used to where all the read outs are, but in no time you'll be at one with your fighter and ready to engage the enemy. EVE: Valkyrie plays just as well as it looks on PlayStation VR, with the DualShock 4 controls easy to pick up and the VR headset allowing for intuitive additions such as looking at the ship you want to target with homing missiles in order to lock on.
You can tell that EVE: Valkyrie has been polished and refined by developer CCP, as there really aren't any annoying bugs you might expect to find in a launch line-up game. Thanks to the Rift players having "tested" the game for months, PlayStation VR players are able to jump straight in to a top quality product.
There are three classes of ship to get to grips with: the initial "fighter", which comes packing homing missiles and Gatling guns along with nifty manoeuvrability, then there's the "heavy" with look-targeting guns, which mean that you can hammer enemies for as long as you can keep them in sight range, and a handy warp that can jump you short distances in order to save your skin when soaking up incoming fire (which you will as the heavy isn't as good at evasive action).
Finally, there's a "support" class which wields a shield zapping / replenishing beam, a laser weapon, and a superb range of deployable spider bots which will attach to enemy ships and damage them (the first time some of the little critters land on your cockpit and start assaulting your view-shield is quite something). Friendly ships will get patched up mid-battle by the support bots, so it's worth having at least one on your eight-man team.
It's worth noting, though, that each class feels very different to fly, it isn't just different weapons and armour levels, but actually a whole new way of playing, and this gives the game a good amount of replayability as you experiment and upgrade the three ships.
The frantic space firefights can be just incredible, hair-raising, spine-tingling engagements. There's a special feeling that you can't quite do justice to in words when you save your wingman from a bogey on his tail, or land the killer blow on a hulking carrier ship. EVE: Valkyrie really is wish fulfilment of a dogfighting kind. Teamwork really helps, too – especially in the carrier assault mode where one group defends their big cruiser ship while the others have to knock out its shields and take it down.
There are a few single player missions and some training for each ship class, but if multiplayer battling isn't your thing, then unfortunately EVE: Valkyrie won't really be for you, as the bulk of the game is all about hitting the unfriendly skies in order to blow the crap out of the enemy ships.
It would be fun to have set up a total Rift versus PlayStation VR match to see which virtual reality system has the better pilots, but when you score a kill against a player who is much higher level than you, we like to assume it's a blow for the PlayStation community seeing as we're new to this fight. At least in these early days, anyway.
The sound engineering is great, too, with a sassy female voice for your ship functions, intense laser and missile lock effects, and a mean looking virtual dude who will growl at you as he sells you upgrades. Speaking of which, there are plenty of shortcut microtransactions you can access in-game if you're the sort of player who just can't take the time to grind up through actual combat experience. It's a shame as it can create a slightly unbalanced team dynamic if you come up against someone fully upgraded in your only slightly modified fighter.
What impressed us a great deal was the fluidity of frame rate and sheer sense of motion created by the PSVR. You might feel a little disorientated when swooping over a huge battle cruiser's hull, but we didn't ever get any motion sickness – it seems that CCP has worked hard to make this an experience you'll want to keep coming back to.
EVE: Valkyrie is one of the better PlayStation VR experiences out there at the moment – a true Top Gun. Packing slick design and stunning visuals, as well as thrilling gameplay. For fans of multiplayer space dogfighting, this is the (un)real deal. Virtual hats off to CCP on creating a fantastic space combat experience.