Fanfest is upon us again, CCP’s yearly festival in Reykjavik for all things EVE Online, but to go along with the round table discussions and announcements surrounding the massive multiplayer universe is a new update to the studio’s sci-fi VR arcade dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie (2016). Coming April 11th to Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR is an expansion called Groundrush that promises to deliver even more of that Star Wars-esque spaceship experience with planet-based maps (and one that looks awfully like the planet Hoth) among a host of other updates.
Popping on the PS4 Pro-powered PlayStation VR headset, I found myself back in the game’s familiar launch tubes and sitting in the basic ship, the Banshee. My teammates, two disparate packs of German and Russian journalists, were conjoined for the mission and chattered on through the game’s comm system in their respective languages.
Rocketing out of the carrier at the same blistering speed I’ve come to know from the game’s many space-based maps, I flew out over what I was told would be Valkyrie’s first planet-based map, Solitude. Some sort of derelict research facility was at the center point, still showing the signs of an apparent attack. Craggy peaks covered in snow jutted out everywhere—a great place to smash into if you fly as bad as me.
Seeing the horizon where open 3D space once stood was hard to get used to at first. However the snowy scenery and comparably light skybox helped soften the disorientation I expected when engaging in the game’s wild corkscrew battles. The demo was only 10 minutes long, so I can’t tell how longer sessions would play out in regards to motion sickness, but I felt more or less the same flying in the topsy-turvy space battles I’m used to in space. So while the sensation of flying was mostly the same, I had a new foe to contend with: the ground. And yes, you can smash into it.
The map itself looks noticeably smaller than the space-based maps, and combat tended to take place near the ground, winding around the structures and geological features of the planet. Flanked on one side by the enemy carrier—another hazard to watch out for lest you want a quick death and a “killed by enemy carrier” message to flash at you before being dropped serendipitous into a fresh clone—and on the other was my own.
Flying with afterburners between the two took about 30-40 seconds. It was faster than I thought, but it seemed to keep combat at a brimming level. The match I played hosted 10 players, two teams of five, so there was plenty of action to go around.
I also noticed a number of interesting tight spots to chase enemies through, something that always proves to be a crowd-pleaser by invoking the iconic Star Wars trench run. Check out the video below to get a better idea of what Groundrush is offering.
Disclosure: CCP Games provided airfare and lodging for Road to VR to attend Fanfest 2017