PlayStation VR Aim is a new Move-like gun peripheral employed by the newly announced PSVR title Farpoint. Sony quietly revealed the PSVR Aim controller during their E3 2016 PlayStation VR event. We went hands-on with both the game and the controller.

Farpoint is a sci-fi FPS for PlayStation VR which sets players on a foreign planet filled with hostile alien creatures. It’s the first PSVR game to be shown with the new PlayStation VR Aim controller which is a standalone Move device with integrated buttons, two thumbsticks, and tracking via the glowing ball on the front and an inbuilt IMU. The release date and price of PSVR Aim hasn’t been revealed. We’re told that Farpoint can also be played with a PS4 controller, but it’s of course designed around the peripheral, which developer Impulse Gear says they co-developed with Sony.

With the PSVR Aim controller in your hands, the weapons you wield in Farpoint feel much more tangible. As you spin the peripheral around, the motion is mimicked in your virtual view, allowing you to inspect your virtual weapons up close as well as looking down the sights with ease. The developers have also smartly animated the in-game arms so that when you rotate the weapon in such a way that you are unlikely to be holding it with two hands, your secondary virtual hand will pull away from the weapon. Not only does this better approximate what your real hands are doing, but it also prevents any awkward clipping or contortions of your virtual arms as you spin the weapon around.

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While it’s great to have the feeling of both of your hands wielding a single object (instead of mock-holding a two handed gun when in reality your real hands are not linked together), the PSVR Aim’s lack of shoulder stock felt somewhat odd, as with most real two-handed guns you use the stock as a way of steadying your view down the sights. Without the stock the gun feels awkward to hold at eye-level, so many players ended up holding it somewhat lazily, almost as if firing from the hip.

Not ideal, but easy to get over, especially considering that your virtual gun lacks real recoil, so there’s technically little need to steady the weapon against your shoulder. Speaking of recoil, I didn’t feel any haptics from the controller at all, not even simple rumble which would be a shame if it was overlooked. Beyond this, the controller works well, allowing me to easily point the weapon, look down the sights, and blast my alien enemies.

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Farpoint is one of the few PSVR titles that’s using thumbstick-based movement. The PlayStation VR Aim controller has two thumbsticks, and the stick on the foregrip is used to move yourself forward and backward in the game, while the direction of your gun determines your walking direction.

This was awkward at first, but as I got used to it I noticed a major benefit—it was incredibly easy to walk in one direction while looking in another. This sounds trivial, but in VR it’s actually a problem that’s often not handled very well. For instance, at one point in my time with Farpoint, I was crossing a narrow land bridge spanning the width of a large cavern. As I walked carefully forward to avoid falling off either side, I was able to look to the left and right to see the impressive environment around me while continuing to fine-tune my walking direction using the angle of the gun.

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While I’m one of the folks who is normally susceptible to thumbstick-driven VR locomotion, I was surprised that I didn’t experience any nausea when moving in Farpoint. The key seems to be moderate player speed (your pace is more of a stroll than a sprint) and lack of any means of rotating except by rotating your own real body. The developers tell me the final game will include the option to rotate with the stick for more experienced players, but the game is designed to minimize the need.

In the Farpoint PSVR demo I started my journey in a dusty desert environment that was anything but deserted. With rifle in hand, I quickly came upon small spider-like aliens that sprung from their burrows in the ground and leap at my face. These critters appeared in groups and could do significant damage if ignored.

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Looking down the scope of my rifle, I could see a red sight projected onto the small glass prism over the barrel. If you don’t align the gun correctly with your head, the reticle can’t be seen. It’s a nice touch that makes the gun feel more authentic, like it’s got a cool futuristic holographic scope attached.

The rifle’s high rate-of-fire made it an effective weapon against the leaping spiders. There were also larger beasts which catapulted toxic green baubles at me. These organic mortars did significant damage and managed to kill me a few times while I was distracted by the jumping spiders. The rifle’s long range worked well to take them out from afar.

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Quite luckily, I managed to find a shotgun just before I entered into some close-quarters combat (who would have guessed!) on the edge of a very steep cliff. After finding the shotgun, a simple gesture is used to switch between weapons: using both hands, you point the PSVR Aim controller upward and back, as if to toss it over your shoulder. With a satisfying coking sound, this summons whichever weapon you aren’t currently holding. It’s quick, effective, and more immersive than simply pressing a button.

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The shotgun of course behaves differently from the rifle, and allowed me to get up close and personal to those lethal-if-underestimated leaping spiders. With a single satisfying blast turning the spiders into a cloud of smoke and guts, it was pretty clear that this shotgun was purpose made for the job.

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Along my way I spotted a larger and rather armored multi-legged alien which (spoiler alert) also wanted me dead. Using the forward trigger on the PlayStation VR Aim controller, I was able to fire grenades from my rifle which I’d gathered earlier. After a few explosives to the face, the alien finally succumb and I cautiously approached its husk to see its full scale. Before I could do much analysis of its alien anatomy, the green glob launchers we after me again.

After moving through a few more encounters, the demo ended with a gigantic alien monster emerging from its cave dwelling, with the scene fading from view just in time to tease that I wouldn’t actually get to fight the thing (despite certainly being excited to).

As Impulse Gear’s first title, Farpoint is an impressive starting point for the studio, bringing what feels at this stage like solid FPS action to PlayStation VR. Founder Randy Nolta told me that they’re aiming for a multi-hour narrative driven experience.

Given the use of the PSVR Aim controller, I hope to see Farpoint emphasize interesting futuristic weaponry beyond the staple assault rifle and shotgun categories that I saw initially. I would also like to see them build visual representations of the controller’s many buttons onto the VR weapons so that it’s easier to remember what buttons are at your disposal.

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  • Raphael

    Serious lack of aesthetic design on that controller. It looks like plumber’s tube.

    Or to put it another way… what would happen if a plumber worked in the hardware design section of Sony?

    I think it’s plumbing tube with a child’s night-light on the end.

    • You have to remember that they have to make products that look appropriate for anyone and everyone to use, from kids to adults, across all countries of the world (where design aesthetics may be radically different).

      Look at the Western-developed headsets – Oculus, Vive, etc. – and look at the PSVR. In design aesthetics alone, one is much more “rounded,” “clean,” “bright” – that’s the PlayStation model. It’s designed that way for a very specific reason.

      • Raphael

        Plumbing tube with kid’s night light. I agree it’s not a great idea to make it look like an AR15 but I do think something other than plumbing tube could have been used.

        Sad thought: If a black kid wandered around with this plumber’s tube in the US he’d still get shot by police for carrying a “deadly weapon”.

      • NeoTechni

        the move sharpshooter managed just fine

    • ReddChief78

      It’s a controller you use in VR so doesn’t matter long as it feels & works good it’s for VR lol, looks cool to me clean & simple.

    • Tommy

      Probably 3D printed in the wee hours just before the demo.

      • Raphael

        Yes, a few hours design work at least. Perhaps even three!

        • Hans Wurst

          It looks functional and well designed.

          • Raphael

            It’s butt-ugly. To call that well-designed is hilarious.

          • Steve Chambers

            That’s completely subjective & the fact you dismiss this doesn’t help you at all. It looks very stylish & minimalistic & shows they’ve focused on functionality instead of just a shiny piece of junk. A polished piece of shit only impresses morons.

          • Raphael

            You’re obviously new to the world of plastic DIY tubing. I get it. Drainpipe is art to you.

          • Steve Chambers

            It’s ok, I get it, you’re just a small dicked cunt, its fine, don’t worry, i’m sure one day some old fat ugly blind woman will take pity on you & you’ll loose that virginity (I doubt it). love you.

          • Raphael

            hilarious.. You’re certainly doing a great job defending DIY tubing peripherals.

    • Francois Côté Dulude

      At the end, what we want its something that Work well and dont cost to mutch. And you will not see the IRL gun in the game men.. you are in VR !!

      • Raphael

        This is true. It will look amazing in the VR world.

  • Sam Illingworth

    It’s accurate then? I heard bad things about the Move controllers.

    • ReddChief78

      Even if they where they are old but heard they work fine but this is a new controller so it’s gonna be better than the old move stuff anyways.

      • Sam Illingworth

        Well, that’s entirely supposition isn’t it? The Move controllers are currently the official hand controllers for PSVR, the fact that they’re obsolete technology is Sony’s choice.

        • J.C.

          Obsolete? Nah. They work fine. And the people who already have move controllers are likely quite happy they don’t have to buy yet ANOTHER set of controllers. It’s a smart move by Sony, helping lower the cost of entry.

          This gun controller looks fine, the lack of a stock is so it doesn’t have components that aren’t physically on the weapons you have in the game (like the shotgun). That’s more jarring than NOT feeling the stock on weapons that should have it.

          • Sam Illingworth

            In this context I believe, from what I’ve read, that they are obsolete and do not work fine. Fine for Wii style games is not fine for VR.

  • Sunny Viji

    the move controllers wasn’t bad, just not supported enough, hope the Sharpshooter is compatible, love the pump action reload on the thing,

    • James Friedman

      Yeah I bought that and was just looking at it the other day. I would think it should work

      • James Paul Winkowski

        What about the extra Analog stick they have at the back part? I don’t think the Sharpshooter will have that… I think it would be needed for the extra movement axis?

        • NeoTechni

          they dont even use it apparently

  • ronEuk1

    One could diss the style of the controller, but I guess in VR that doesn’t matter as your shooter is recreated to any design within the headset right?

    • Raphael

      Yes, when I use my Vive controllers they become something else entirely in game. For HordeZ they become various weapons. They look real in game.

  • Luke

    when you face the camera and then you turn of 180° and basically the camera see your back: how does the controller send the informations to the PS4? does it have 2 cameras as Vive and Oculus? how does it works? thanks

    • ReddChief78

      Want to look behind you turn your head a little & use the controller movement to make the turn like in a normal shooter no need to actually do a 180 in real life.

      • Luke

        I trying to explain another concept but my english is not very good.
        The controller will be not recognized by the camera if the player turn at 180°. The camera can not see the controller because the player is between them. So how does the sony solved this problem? Thx again

        • danbax

          none of the vr games will require you to turn 180 with your hands and then continue to play.

          1. sony told developers to not require fast movement in games. one reason is probably vr sickess and another is because the headset is wired.

          i dont remember how it works but look up the battlefield demo with virtuix omni. you can turn 360 degrees with that.

    • FRIdSUN

      You are right. The controller will not be recognized if it is not seen by the sensor. It’s an accepted limitation.

      • Luke

        I really can’t figure out how this will change the system control between PSVR and vive/oculus (because them use 2 cameras).
        I does not understand how does psvr works. it seems impossible to my logic. how does it works? thx

        • FRIdSUN

          Here is a demo for head tracking with Wii Remote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw . Different in form, PS VR / Move and HTC Vive take the same principle: at least two IR emitters and embedded IR cameras in the tracked objects. The tracked devices sense the IR and calculate their relative positions to the IR emitters. OTOH, Microsoft Kinect and Oculus Rift captures visual directly and analyzes the visual for position data. They are exactly opposite in where light is emitted and sensed, but otherwise the same in principle.

          • Luke

            thx sorry for my bad english, I mean:
            1) I can turn my head at 180 ° because the HMD have light all around (also on the back).
            2) I can not turn my body at 180° because the camera is only one. and cant see the controller if beyond my body.

            so when I play a game I can turn my head at 180°, but how can I turn my body at 180° in the game and shoot at the same time?

            thx

  • Sean Lumly

    PS VR Aim has haptic feedback, though it may not have been in the demo. Look at the image from E3 at this timestamp in this video:
    https://youtu.be/6GBi3E_7ZtU?t=5s

  • Brent Petersen

    Does it include head tracking?? If it doesn’t it’s no better than hooking up a Wii zapper FPS game through easycap on cardboard/android vr

    • NeoTechni

      yes, in VR

  • NeoTechni

    I assume you meant cocking sound?

  • Mark

    Needs to have some sort of vibration function so that you get some sort of feed back when shooting it in vr other than that i think its good doesn’t matter what it really looks like its all about how it feels and acts whilst you have your vr on as you dont see it but i really think they should implement the vibration function

  • ultraddtd

    Head look and turn feels much more natural than using the right stick. RIGS did a great job with that.