With virtual reality still in its infancy, it's hard to find a VR game that is truly compelling and actually works. There are several arcade style VR games - EVE Gunjack and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood for example - and there are some multiplayer VR games - RIGS and Starblood Arena - but single player games with a truly interesting and captivating narrative and gameplay experience built specifically for VR are still an uncommon thing. Impulse Gear's offering in Farpoint, however, might be one of the first to break ground in that particular sector of the VR arena.
The basic premise of Farpoint is that you're a shuttle pilot working on a space station observing an anomalous singularity somewhere in space. As you're about to start ferrying two scientists, that singularity suddenly erupts with activity, pulling in the space station, the scientists, and your shuttle inside. When you awaken having crash landed on an alien world, you discover that the singularity was actually a semi-stable wormhole leading to some unknown corner of the universe. The game consists of your character and his journey to pick up the trail of the scientists who would have made planetfall just before you and hopefully find a way off the planet and back to Earth.
The game is a first person shooter, and while it's not mandatory to have the badass PlayStation Move Aim Controller made specifically for Farpoint, I thought it looked hella cool, so I ordered the bundle, and it DEFINITELY enhances the immersion of the game. You lift the gun to aim down the sights as if you would a real gun, and your movements are (almost) perfectly mirrored on screen. It's as close as I've ever gotten to forgetting that I'm in a game. I truly does feel like you're on that alien planet fighting hostile giant spiders (as if anything could be worse), robots, and - eventually - alien foot soldiers.
You have a variety of weapons from which to choose, but you start with the trusty assault rifle. The assault rifle works like the weapons in the original Mass Effect in that the ammo is infinite but it overheats if fired too much. The assault rifle also has a secondary fire that launches a guided rocket. You can also pick up a shotgun with a secondary grenade launcher, a sniper rifle, a plasma rifle with an energy shield, and an energy "spike" gun that's basically a rifle version of the Needler from Halo. With the exception of the assault rifle and the spike gun, the others have to be reloaded manually when a magazine is spent, but the ammo is unlimited. The spike gun, like the assault rifle, automatically reloads when not being fired. The energy for the plasma rifle's shield recharges over time when depleted, but you have to find ammo for the assault rifle's rocket launcher and the shotgun's grenade launcher, and both are extremely scarce.
The game's visuals are fantastic considering the relatively poor resolution of the PSVR headset, and you can tell that the game would look stunning if the headset were more advanced. The use of 3D audio and the ambient sounds of the world add a level of immersion that, even among other VR games, I had never felt before. While I'm definitely singing its praises and will continue to, however, it's not a perfect game. The enemy spawns in particular feel a bit...uninspired. Whereas in most modern shooters enemies are spawn before you should be able to see them and move around in a relatively realistic way, enemies spawn either from the ground or from behind a ridge (depending on if the enemy is a giant spider or robot/alien), giving it a very obviously scripted and rather arcade-y rail shooter feel. It doesn't totally break immersion or anything, but it would have been nice if the game were a little less linear and had some more organic-feeling enemies.
While I'm tempted to say that the story is the highlight of the game, the gameplay really does steal the show. The story is really interesting and, while rather predictable in places, certainly kept me interested and wanting to know what was going to happen next. The gameplay, however....oh man, the gameplay. Never before I have felt like I was actually THERE, but I felt like I was on that planet all alone with just my rifle and a swarm of giant alien spiders that was trying to eat me. There were a few little problems that are disappointingly typical of anything that uses PlayStation Move - the calibration would randomly go a bit wonky and put my elbow in the middle of my chest, I'd have my face stuck inside a table during a cut scene, etc - but I blame that more on the nature of PlayStation Move and the PlayStation Camera than on the game itself. The only thing mechanically that really bugged me was that there was no way to zoom when aiming with the sniper rifle. It was a powerful ass rifle like it should be, and it was extremely accurate when you were aimed at an enemy, but between the lack of any zoom and the low resolution of the PlayStation VR headset, it could get difficult to aim at any distance, and a rifle with a low rate of fire and a three round magazine isn't very useful in close quarters combat. It obviously didn't break the game, and it was still my favorite non-shotgun weapon (because my favorite weapon will ALWAYS be a shotgun), but it was definitely an irksome design choice.
Farpoint, while not perfect, is without the doubt the most immersive and most fun VR game that I've played to date. The environments are gorgeous, the enemies are totally hateable, and the combat feels absolutely incredible. The sound design is subdued for the most part, but it definitely adds to the immersion of the game. If you want a VR first person shooter with a solid single player and a scifi setting, then Farpoint is EXACTLY the game you're looking. This one's definitely highly recommended.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.