Of the multiple PSVR games I was able to demo at EGX this past week, Farpoint simultaneously felt the most like a full traditional single player adventure, while also highlighting exactly why so many experiences designed with VR in mind stray away from the typical video game design rule book. It gave me something I have been craving from VR games since consumer headsets hit the market, but showed me that my desire to experience a more traditional style experience might have been foolish.
Farpoint is a first person shooter set on a planet very similar to, but not actually, Mars. Played using a PS Move based gun peripheral, you can walk freely around a wide linear path using an analogue stick while shooting insectoid aliens and avoiding any attacks they launch toward you.
General gameplay controls were smart and made sense. You walk forward, back and strafe with the control stick, look around with your headset, aim and shoot with the gun as you would imagine and reload or swap weapons by moving your gun through the new ammo or gun.
The big issue is that while free movement in the short-term felt infinitely more natural and immediately easy to control than the teleportation many other first person VR games employ, the fast movement speed and the human body’s expectation of physical sensation during that fast movement caused some pretty bad motion sickness in more hectic fights.
The game itself was fantastic. The enemies had unique attack patterns and did a great job of feeling defeatable, but putting pressure on me as a player and making sure I often felt cornered. The narrative presentation had me slowing down to explore and wanting to know about the world. the huge environments felt open enough to make gameplay fun while being linear enough to avoid getting lost. I was always cautious of getting swarmed by enemies, I always felt vulnerable, and the boss creatures had an incredible sense of scale to them.
Aiming by feel was easy, with the sight easy to look down. The game looked gorgeous and ran without a visual hiccup. I felt like I was fully immersed in an old arcade light gun cabinet.
The problem is that while this game was amazing when it worked, it truly did feel like the natural future of FPS games, the movement speed, free movement and lack of physical feedback mean that I found myself unable to play as long as my mental engagement would have wanted.
I’m going to want to immerse myself in Farpoint when it releases and play it in one huge burst. My time with it at EGX suggests that might not be a smart move.