The latest release from the Darkfield VR team shows how quickly the team are shaping this space dogfighting sim into a slick, polished virtual reality showcase.
Space Shooter, The Genre of VR
So it seems that Oculus VR’s plans for the first wave of virtual reality experiences to be, ostensibly, seated is being well supported by indie developers. That is, if you were to pick a genre that has arguably been pulled from the realms of obscurity primarily because the advent of VR is upon us, space sims would probably be it. Just a couple of years ago, the genre was dead. Now, a combination of excitement over what VR brings to space shooters and in no small part the advent of Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms, we have triple A titles such as Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous and of course EVE Valkyrie heading our way, all sporting out-of-the-box support for the Oculus Rift VR Headset.
Indies too have had a whale of a time creating experimental forays into VR Space Combat. One team in particular though were clearly heavily invested in realising their vision for a spin on the genre. Darkfield Alpha (as it was known) first appeared in November of last year and the team’s passion was clear from the start. They’re goal, to bring a no-nonsense but compelling multi-player space combat shooter to the Oculus Rift.
The first release was marked as Alpha but was surprisingly playable for such an early build. Visually however, it clearly had some way to go. The Darkfield team have been releasing regular updates to early-access backers ever since. I’d not played Darkfield since my original coverage of it last year – so was quite surprised to find the visuals in this new release (alpha 4.5) had come a very long way. What’s more, the team have now included a Space Station hangar area from which to start your adventures in, and not any just a cut ‘n’ paste space station backdrop either. You can wander round the various ships, getting in and out of the cockpit at will, head up to the operations room passing an obligatory holographic space map table on the way. Pause to watch a Darkfield trailer on the active video screens before finally getting your suit on and heading out into space to shoot stuff. Clearly the team have had fun as the detail evident is lovingly attended. Even the player’s helmet has fine scratches on the visor’s glass.
Once you’ve either hosted or joined an online match (there is the option to create a single player game plus bots thankfully), choose your craft, choose your weapon load out and launch! Once in the heat of the action, the controls were reasonably intuitive, and you’ll be screaming around the stars blasting things from the heavens in no time. There are glitches, this is an alpha don’t forget but the speed of progress being made here means I’m very excited to see what a beta release constitutes.
We’ll check in again on Darkfield VR’s progress again soon. In the mean time you can become an early-access backer and find out more about the game here.
Full list of new features and changes for Alpha 4.5:
New Features and Changes
• New Hangar
• New Input Manager: you can now set your controls in-game
• New Textures and Cockpit for Rebel Ship 3, all other ships are WIP
• Map Preview: Eye of the Storm
• Changed Weapons: Laser is very fast and is very effective against shields, while the Gatling is slow but can more effectively penetrate the hull
• Helmet with Ship Stats
• Adjustable Seat Position view Arrow Keys
• Changed Targeting Behavior: Press the target-key and look at a ship. The circular indicator will show which ship will be targeted once you let go of the key
• Removed passive target indicator. Ships have now different thruster colors depending on faction.
• Maps are loaded from files. Feel free to dig around in the maps folder. We will use this format for a map editor which will arrive in one of the next builds
• Changed default controls