It’s the most tense twenty seconds of your life. A red light spins above your head and the mechanical whirring of the docking bay adds little comfort to the situation you find yourself in. The condensation clouds your view as you scan the periphery for signs of life; comrades equally as disconcerted about the situation as you. But this is a solitary moment. And it could well be your last, as when these twenty seconds draw to a close you’ll find yourself a hair-trigger from death.
In this moment the Oculus Rift’s high-definition (HD) model proves it’s worth. You’re a nobody, sat in the cockpit of your tiny fighter as it’s mounted within a hulking space cruiser. You’re about to be flung – literally – into a battle in which everything you know about space combat can be your undoing in seconds, but for now the environment is a perfect example of how virtual reality (VR) has become more than just an interesting asset: EVE: Valkyrie was made for VR, but it’s VR that makes EVE: Valkyrie so special.
There have been a number of rollercoaster simulations made available for the Oculus Rift but few can compare to those moments of adrenaline as you are propelled forward at an increasing speed until you crash past the bay doors. All of a sudden you are in control, and in that same moment you see a small squad opposing you who have just had the same experience. However, this is not time to bond over such similarities; they’re gunning for you. It’s at this point that you realise every other space combat simulator was essentially training for EVE: Valkyrie. Other titles can compare, but none will offer the same suspension-of-disbelief that EVE: Valkyrie brings unrelentingly.
Played using an Xbox 360 control pad, the left and right analog sticks control pitch and tilt respectively, while the LB and RB buttons offer yaw alignment. However, it’s only a moment until these seemingly complicated controls become second nature, as the most important input device is you. Your eye naturally dictates your thumb movement, and while you can easily flick your vision back-and-forth across the blackness that is your battlefield, the moment you lock upon an enemy your thumbs will instinctively push you towards their tail. It’s with this aggressive pace that the mechanics of the combat have been made sparingly so, with only two types of weapon available to EVE: Valkyrie players at this point in time.
The first is a basic machine gun. Rapid fire but low accuracy; taking pot-shots at the enemy while you attempt to gain ground. The second – and by far the most important aspect of EVE: Valkyrie to ensure you have a handle on – is your missiles. Limited only by the two seconds to reload and your ability to keep your vision locked-on to a spacecraft, the player has a second reticule which marks the centre of their eye line. Holding the left trigger, when this second reticule is held over an enemy craft for just a moment the it will lock. Releasing the left trigger at this moment will send a barrage of smoke and metal at the enemy, with only their piloting skill to save them from an explosive death by your hand.
All of this action happens within the first minute of strapping on that Oculus Rift headset and the loop of combat is just as thrilling moment-to-moment. Exactly how CCP Games intend to flesh out this microcosm of space combat simulation into a full videogame experience remains to be seen – when questioned there were doubts about the proposition of a single-player component – but nonetheless EVE: Valkyrie offers a compelling VR experience in it’s current form. CCP Games suggested that we’ll be seeing more from EVE: Valkyrie in the coming months, and of course VRFocus will keep you updated with all the latest details.