Preview: EVE: Valkryie
VRFocus has had the pleasure of sampling CCP Games’ virtual reality (VR) showboat piece on a number of occasions. The most recent preview builds of EVE Valkryie, playable on both Sony Computer Entertainment’s Project Morpheus and the second iteration of the Oculus Rift development kit (aka DK2) offered a significantly enhanced version of the videogame, clearly reaching a point where a build worthy of publishing for a consumer audience is on the horizon. However, the differences in hardware are most certainly notable despite the fact that the PlayStation 4 and PC versions were practically identical on a software front; there’s an edge to SCE’s hardware that even Oculus VR’s closest collaborators can’t seem to overcome.
Having already delivered a hands-on preview of this build of EVE Valkryie as played on the Project Morpheus hardware, this latest report will concentrate on the DK2 edition of the videogame. The build here was different to that which featured on the show floor of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in April 2014, instead being kept behind closed doors and available only for select press previews. VRFocus had the opportunity to sample this build in an unlikely manner – playing against CCP Games representatives themselves – and as such experienced EVE Valkryie in a very different way to the usual arrangement.
This new build looked stunning. A layer of polish not previously evident was given to both visual and aural design as EVE Valkryie creeps ever-closer to build worthy of a retail price-tag. The density of environmental detail is far beyond that of any previous iteration of the videogame and the detail on space craft is remarkable. Indeed, the addition of text-based commands and relay of information such as score and missile reloads is a piece of the design puzzle that was sorely missing previously. From an aesthetic view alone, EVE Valkryie is a better experience now than it was merely a matter of weeks ago.
However, as superior as the build was there were flaws evident in the DK2 edition that weren’t prevalent on Project Morhpeus. The biggest issue remains one of resolution, or ‘screen door effect’ as it’s often known. With PC there was still a noticeable divide between pixels that simply doesn’t exist with the PlayStation 4 edition of EVE Valkryie, arguably an issue with the head-mounted displays (HMDs) that each system promotes as opposed to the software itself. Some player did complain that the latency of the Project Morpheus headset did deliver some motion-blur upon rapid movements of the head when attempting to acquire a lock-on, however this simply wasn’t the case in VRFocus‘ experience. From a visual standpoint EVE Valkryie is superior on Project Morpheus than on the DK2.
Furthermore, the positional tracking of Project Morpheus was more easily identifiable than that of the DK2 headset. By that, it’s the mental measurement of where and when your head movements are being picked-up by the camera and relayed in-game. The DK2 has made a huge leap forward over the DK1 by the inclusion of positional tracking. However, while neither the DK2 nor Project Morpheus are perfect in this respect – far from it, in fact – the limitations of the Project Morpheus appear to be more consistent in EVE Valkryie than those of the DK2. There were many occasions in which the DK2 would simply not interpret movement in-game one moment when it had for the exact same movement a moment previously. Project Morpheus, on the other hand, has a smaller sphere of detection but is faultless within that radius.
For the most part these are minor issues, of course, most likely to be rectified prior to the release of either device and the videogame itself. What is important to take away from this is the fact that EVE Valkryie remains a compelling experience on both formats, and if VR is going to be divided by console, PC and Android spaces then offering a high quality videogame experience that plays to the strength of each is important. VRFocus believes that it could well be EVE Valkryie that manages bridge the gap between the formats.