Preview: Farhome – Starship Troopers in VR
Farhome has the makings of a great VR sci-fi adventure.
Remember Starship Troopers, the epic 1997 movie that was all about saving the human race from giant insect like aliens? Well indie developer DEVCUBESTUDIO seems to have taken a leaf out of that films book and created Farhome for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, a big sprawling virtual reality (VR) adventure that’s sure to garner a few fans.
Released via Steam Early Access, Farhome is your quintessential sci-fi first-person shooter (FPS) where you have to survive several hostile environments teeming with alien creatures that will stop at nothing to kill you. For a debut VR project DEVCUBESTUDIO has certainly pulled out all the stops to make an impressive looking experience that can be played in both single-player and co-op multiplayer modes.
Currently there are four levels to choose from, three of which feature all out action with hordes of enemies to slaughter across several planets, whilst the other takes a completely different tact, dropping you inside a deserted space station that has the odd similarity or two to Lone Echo.
The more action focused levels are definitely the cream of the crop here. Before heading out you can select from one of two characters, an Engineer or Heavy, each with their own particular secondary features. Here you can also equip special abilities and items to take with you such as an assortment of grenades.
Once planet side it’s pretty much straight into the firefight which can be a little daunting the first time as there’s not been a lot of time to learn the controls. These are fully featured, especially when it comes to movement. On the HTC Vive the left thumbpad controls teleportation by clicking it in, whilst a swipe left or right with turn the viewpoint smoothly – no snap rotation. The right touchpad has a duel option as well, smooth locomotion by lightly pressing the pad or a click does a very short teleport to get you out of trouble. There’s not much in the way of fine tuning these controls in the options menu but they seemed to work fine for most situations encountered.
Combat is more a war of attrition than anything else. You’re fighting bugs so they tend to just come straight at you once you’ve been spotted. Thankfully the environments have been nicely engineered so that you don’t have to stay on the ground and get overwhelmed. Find a nice container or rocky outpost to stand on and suddenly things do get a bit easier.
The space station section isn’t as good as the others. Most of the time it’s a case of wandering around unlocking doors and following the route marker. At points the gravity switches off or you have to go outside, with movement controlled by a wrist mounted booster. There’s only one – on the left hand – and while similar to Lone Echo it’s no way near as finely tuned, plus for some strange reason Farhome will only allow the environment to be grabbed with that same hand, making the right almost redundant. It seems like DEVCUBESTUDIO wanted to change the pace of Farhome so that it wasn’t pure action all the time, unfortunately all you’ll want to do is get through it as quickly as possible.
As Farhome supports both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VRFocus decided to try both to see if the experience was the same. This was not the case. On Oculus Rift the entire experience suffered with some nasty latency issues, after trying to play for 10 minutes it just became unbearable. For HTC Vive on the other hand it was perfect, no latency and no glitches whatsoever.
At present Farhome is shaping up very nicely for HTC Vive. The environments are well designed and laid out, with the combat suitably frantic and challenging. There are issues to resolve – the biggest being Oculus Rift – yet from what VRFocus has seen so far Farhome is on the right track to be one of the best VR experiences scheduled for 2019.