EVE Valkyrie: A Fun Virtual Assault on Physics

Immersion is something a large audience of gamers seek when playing video games. They want to escape to a different world, far from the troubles of their real lives. Games have come a long way in providing immersive experiences. Whether it be world building or graphically advanced presentation, games have always found a way to bring the gamer into their worlds. Now that VR has arrived, we will be diving into imaginary worlds like never before. EVE Valkyrie provides us with a chance to experience space flight, something many young boys and girls have dreamed of. While it is not the first game of it’s kind, it is the first of its genre on PlayStation VR.

Instinctively, I gravitated toward EVE Valkyrie because of my long history with flight simulator games. However, what I found in EVE was very different from other games in the genre. This game is multiplayer focused with little to offer for players who don’t wish to play online. The single player offerings include some training missions, a weak and short story mode, a survival mode, and the ability to fly around the various maps. The training gives you a handle on the basics and expands as you unlock the heavy and support class ships. The single player campaign lasted a little more than an hour for me, and I wasn’t in any hurry to finish it. There is a story but it’s so bland that I’ve already forgotten it. The only purpose it serves is to lead you into the multiplayer environment and pseudo story. I need to be honest with this one. Unless you plan on playing online, don’t buy this game. 

Multiplayer on the other hand is a blast. I played the carrier assault and the team deathmatch modes, both of which I enjoyed. Teamwork is essential, as you’ll have to constantly watch each other’s backs as the other team attempts to take you out. There’s plenty of strategy that goes into the carrier assault, as you’ll have to split up to capture control points. The dogfights are intense, and you’ll need every trick you can think of to outsmart and outmaneuver your opponents. After each match you earn experience and materials that are used to craft ships and upgrades. There is a microtransaction market but, it’s hard to tell what kind of impact that is having this early on. The mechanics of the game are serviceable to the majority of players, although the act of flying the ship isn’t what I had hoped for. 

Having played a number of space flight simulators that treat the laws of physics with respect, I came into EVE Valkyrie similar expectations. Putting on the headset and jumping in was almost a punch to the face. To put it simply, EVE Valkyrie feels like it takes place underwater rather than in the vacuum of space. Momentum is not conserved and I found myself constantly waiting for my thrusters to recharge. Barrel rolls and other maneuvers were slow as well. I understand that some of this is because a lot of people would get motion sickness but for me, it drew me out of the immersion I was looking for. It shouldn’t feel like my ship is flying through molasses as I pitch and roll to acquire my target. I managed to have fun playing it but, it did not do spaceflight justice in any way. 

While this game could have worked outside of VR, I don’t think it could be defended as a full priced game without being a VR experience. The ability to look around in all directions to find targets or cover to fly behind is vital to how the game is played. I did not feel any motion sickness and the technology worked flawlessly. For reference, I played the game sitting down while six feet away from the camera because that’s what felt natural.

I give EVE Valkyrie a 7.5/10 for its professional utilization of VR in a fun multiplayer space flight shooter. Its limited implementation of physics broke immersion for me but, could be fine for the less aware.

SloTHeory - Bethesda Studios Mod Support On PS4

As you probably know, Bethesda recently released a PR statement on the status of Mod support for Bethesda Studios games, Fallout 4 and the Skyrim Special Edition. Long story short, it's not happening. In their statement, Bethesda placed the blame on Sony saying that "they will not approve user mods the way they should work: where users can do anything they want for either Fallout 4 or Skyrim Special Edition." This comes in the wake of a generally negative reaction to Sony's conference in which they revealed the PS4 Pro. Many games media people and "influencers" have jumped on this opportunity to say that Sony fucked up but, I'm not willing to jump to such conclusions based on a one sided PR story. Instead, I'd like to tell you a story. The story of what I think happened. This isn't necessarily what happened, but I thought that instead of jumping on the hate train, I'd offer a story from the other perspective based on the timeline we already know. 

Around the E3 reveal of Fallout 4, Bethesda came out and said they'd support mods on both Xbox One and PS4 but stated that they'd come first to Microsoft's console. It would make sense for Microsoft to chase this sort of, "we have it first" message because of the position they were in relative to PlayStation. What we don't know, however, is exactly what Bethesda pitched to both sides. Bethesda could have left out details that would cause rejection from either party.  From the earlier quote, it seems that Sony wants more control over what is being played on their platform. The idea that people can do "whatever they want" would have scared Sony out of mod support from the beginning, so the initial pitch would have left this out. As Bethesda came closer to finishing Xbox One Mod support, they would have let these details out to them and Microsoft, still the underdog at the time, could not afford to or simply didn't want to stop Bethesda. 

Now, Bethesda probably knew that mod support wouldn't happen on PS4 for a while before their statement. They were waiting for the right message and time to reveal this unfortunate news. What better time to mask your own deception than when media and influencers are already bashing the PlayStation platform? In today's PR statement, Bethesda pinned Sony to a wall. People are already displeased with the new PlayStation Pro, and it has suddenly become popular to throw Sony under the bus. Sony has to be careful in fighting back, and with the wrong message they may burn bridges with the popular studio/publisher. All I want is some clarity. A statement from Sony detailing the decision making process in denying mod support. 

SloTHoughts - No Man's Sky

No Man's Sky is not for everyone, despite what Sony and the media wanted you to believe for over two years. That's okay, there isn't a single game out there that will satisfy everyone. The problem with No Man's Sky is that people had way too much time to let their imagination craft the game in their own vision. This combined with Hello Games's secrecy, which they had the right to, allowed for the growth of a hype train so strong it could, and did, divide the internet into two extreme groups. But what about the reasonable person, of which there are sadly few? How do we meet in the middle on this game? I can tell you how I feel, and you can determine for yourself if No Man's Sky is worth playing.

To start, let's identify what No Man's Sky is. The game is a mix of survival and adventure in a procedurally generated galaxy. What does that mean do the average Joe? You might think this sounds like Minecraft in space, and you're not far off on the survival aspect. Like Minecraft, you must manage different meters for various functions such as your life support and hazard protection. Unlike Minecraft, this game does not encourage player creation. You simply extract materials from the many different worlds you visit. These materials are used to craft upgrades and recharge the previously mentioned meters. These mechanics are really simple and don't provide much of a challenge for anyone with half a brain. 

As for the adventure bit, this is where world is divided. Exploring procedurally generated worlds is something new to games. Sure there are games that have procedurally generated dungeons but, nothing quite to the scale of No Man's Sky. Hello Games has pulled off creating an entire galaxy with planets seemingly to scale. All of this is possible because of some really insane math. Everything you see is generated from positional data and processed through an equation that almost nobody playing the game understands. When I say everything, I mean it. Every rock, mountain, plant, and animal is created mathemagically. The problem with this, however, is that the game was difficult to show off. Procedurally generated sounds cool and interesting but a lot of times you'll see nightmare monsters. Sean Murray and Hello Games tried to show the best of their game, and who can blame them? 

So what do you actually do in the game? You can play the game any number of ways. You could roam planets, cataloging your findings. When you discover something new, you have the opportunity to name it and upload it to the database. You could chase the in game lore and discover Atlas stations throughout the galaxy. You could also be drawn to the culture of multiple alien factions, learning their language and earning their trust. Of course, there is the journey to the center of the universe where you will discover secrets well worth the effort. These aren't the only ways to play but, they're the most popular paths to follow. 

The question becomes, does No Man's Sky do any of this well? That's hard to answer because No Man's Sky does a lot. The survival aspect is functional, albeit simplistic and uninteresting. Discovery and naming things is fun but ultimately has no impact because of the size of the galaxy. Nobody will ever see the creature you named "Pangusaur" or "Anthony." Each of the alien races are boring and are rarely seen outside of the few buildings scattered on the planets' surface and space stations. The worlds don't feel developed, as if sentient life doesn't ever colonize the planets. Space combat is terrible and all the ships are nearly identical in function and control. All of this points to this being a bad or mediocre game, and I would be inclined to agree if not for the mystery and sense of adventure. Every time I see a new planet, I'm impressed. Despite not being hand crafted, each world I've visited has had a certain "personality" to it. Some of the creatures are really cool while others are so goofy they make me laugh. There are so many beautiful moments to be had while playing. I can't say this game is great, but what it tried to do is more than impressive.