At Fanfest 2015, CCP Games is showing off the latest build of Eve Valkyrie for the first time on Oculus’ Crescent Bay prototype. Like a new pair of glasses, the headset’s improved visuals make it easier than ever to see the polish that the company has been heaping onto the game in recent months.
Fresh Coat of Polish
There’s a stark difference between the original Eve VR prototype and the latest build of Eve Valkyrie, revealed for the first time at this week’s Fanfest 2015. And that’s to be expected—after all, the original was a Unity-based proof-of-concept; by the time the game was revealed to be in production, the studio had switched over to Unreal Engine 4. But beyond that jump, there’s a marked increase in polish between the latest build and the last time I saw the game less than a year ago at E3 2014.
The cockpit has been significantly refined, with a new holographic interface that shows health, shields, weapon status, and more. The launch sequence, where your fighter is deployed from a larger carrier, has received much attention.
The new sequence has you in the launch tunnel which is almost completely dark. I could make out the ship’s inactive dashboard against the backdrop of the tunnel, but that was about it. When it was go-time, lights in the tunnel turned on sequentially down the magnetic runway and I could see the the track begin to energize with a red glow. The cockpit lights also engaged at this point, revealing a detailed interior, as the holographic interface began to initialize.
I looked down to the light at the end of the tunnel as I heard the magnetic track begin to whir to life in harmony with the ship’s engines. A perfectly paired humming and whooshing sound effect—that I won’t even attempt to describe by text—accompanied my acceleration and launch to the end of the tunnel. As my ship blasted out into space, the sound of silence was a deafening contrast to what had just come before. It was this moment that caused the Fanfest audience to let out a collective gasp as CCP Games revealed the updated sequence in a new gameplay trailer:
The game is clearly approaching ‘beautiful’ status, and plays better than ever. CCP says they want Valkyrie to be the best multiplayer VR game in the world, and they’re approaching that goal with an ‘easy to start, difficult to master’ mentality. Indeed, the game is extremely easy to pick up thanks to more arcade-like ship mechanics than a game like Elite Dangerous which approaches simulator territory.
New Map and Creativity in Ship Design
The new build also included a new map, which appears to be the resultant graveyard from the battle seen in the video above. Debris fills the map, allowing skilled players to use chunks of exploded ship as strategic cover. Furthermore, a new gametype debuted on the map, a control mode of sorts, where players vie to hold strategic locations for points. Prior to this we only saw kill-based gametypes.
The last significant reveal was a new ship class, one of at least three to launch with the full game, called the Spectre Mark I. This ship fills the ‘heavy’ role; it’s slower than the fighter-class Wraith Mark II (and has a number of varied mechanics that make it quite distinct).
For one, the primary weapon is a flak cannon (officially the ‘Thukker Mix 75mm rapid spooling flak cannons’) which has a slow rate of fire (compared to the Wraith’s gatling pulse-lasers), but fires rounds which explode in proximity to enemy ships. Aiming this weapon is done with your head, whereas the Wraith’s primary weapon has a forward-fixed reticle which requires you to maneuver your ship to aim. Like the Wraith’s secondary weapon (lock-on missiles), the Spectre’s primary weapon is essentially ‘shoot-where-you-look’, allowing players to bring the ship to a near stop and use it like a turret.
The Spectre’s secondary weapon is actually not a weapon at all, but instead a micro-warp drive which gives the slower ship a burst of speed. The micro-warp drive requires a brief charging period, followed by a cooldown, but allows players to get from point to point in a hurry—albeit with limited mobility.
Mixing things up yet further, the Spectre can combine its defensive energy shield (designed to protect against incoming missiles) with its flak cannon to modify its behavior. When you bring up the shield, flak cannon rounds fired through it will become EMP rounds, capable of stunning enemies.
I was happy to see these significant differences between the Spectre and the Wraith. CCP seems to be getting quite creative about these ships and trying to break free from the tried and tired ‘fast and weak’ + ‘slow and strong’ archetypes. I’m looking forward to the reveal of the ‘support’ class ship and hope to see this creativity continued.
CCP Games says that Eve Valkyrie will be a launch title for both Project Morpheus and the Oculus Rift, regardless if the release of the headsets are staggered or close together. It was recently revealed that Sony will launch Morpheus in Q2 of 2016, while Oculus has yet to announced a release date for the Rift.
Disclosure: CCP Games is covering travel and lodging expenses for one Road to VR writer to attend Fanfest 2015.