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Preview: EVE Valkyrie on Project Morpheus

Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has been showcasing their recently revealed Project Morpheus with a number of different titles. The Deep and The Castle Demo were available to play on day one of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), and the second day saw the latter replaced with CCP Games’ EVE Valkyrie; a surprising announcement in the first place and even more surprising just how well it performs on Project Morpheus.

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From the very beginning EVE Valkyrie on Project Morpheus appears different to that which has been shown on the various Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets. The cockpit design is different, with the player’s hands on a central control panel opposed to levers parallel to the body, and the docking bay is brighter. The moment the player is launched along the bay maintains the same sense of inertia – undeniably a highlight of the entire experience – and once out into the wide blackness the visual design of the environment is the most impressive EVE Valkyrie has ever been.

The amount of polish in this build is remarkable. The environmental objects – asteroids, debris, NPC ships – are both more plentiful and are presented with much more detail than ever before. The enemy crafts are much more distinctive both up close and at range, and this is even when taking into consideration that the gameplay runs at a slightly faster pace. The reticules appear different to previous iterations – triangles form your lock – though they function in the same fashion. These visual comparisons are not standing against the high-definition Oculus Rift version of EVE Valkyrie that VRFocus got hands-on with a week ago however, but the DK2 version playable here at GDC.

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Of course, the gameplay is largely the same. The player has two firing options: a machine gun that works to weaken opponents at long range and missile which lock-on for heavy damage, but have a time-delay on reload. The former is useful when chasing down an enemy but can only be fired directly in front of your craft, the latter is controlled by the central point of your vision, so can essentially be fired behind you once you grasp the idea of turning in one direction and moving your head to another. There’s a great amount of tactical design to the use of these two weapons, and once it falls into place EVE Valkyrie is a thoroughly enjoyable dog fighting experience.

Running smoothly on Project Morpheus, EVE Valkyrie is a testament to just how well SCE have done to catch up in the space that Oculus VR has largely dominated thus far. Prior to GDC you would have been considered a fool to bet on the PlayStation 4 becoming a key player in the VR space; post GDC it’s an elementary statement. EVE Valkyrie offers an enjoyable VR exclusive experience from the get-go, and SCE have made a good decision in luring CCP Games to Project Morpheus.