If you’re into gaming and geek culture in general there’s a great chance that at some point during your childhood you played fictional war games, or pretended to be Han Solo or Princess Leia taking on the Empire with blasters in hand with other kids in the neighborhood. While using your imagination and self-provided sound effects to transport you and your friends to far off worlds was great back then, devices like the PlayStation VR and the newly revealed PS VR Aim controller can now bring you even closer to breaking from reality to live out these types of childhood fantasies.
One PlayStation VR game in particular stood out at E3 for its ability to fully immerse your body and mind in its virtual experience, and this title is Farpoint from Impulse Gear. I had the pleasure of going hands-on with it and the PS VR Aim controller at E3, and I have to say that I was more than impressed with what the demo offered. After talking with an Impulse Gear developer who worked on the game it became clear why Farpoint felt so well suited for the PlayStation VR. First off, the studio was formed specifically for VR games, and Farpoint is its first title, so the studio’s focus is solely on creating the most refined VR gaming experiences out there. Impulse also directly worked with Sony to create the PS VR Aim controller, which is a standalone device and not a holster for existing Move controllers, and it shows in its final design. It is both comfortable to hold and functional as a simulated gun prop, and thanks to its inputs there is no need for additional controls to navigate Farpoint’s FPS world. With the gun in your hand and the goggles on your eyes, you fully feel like the main character, and after the initial “Holy shit this is radical moment,” the experience becomes as natural as hunting with a real rifle.
The demo took place on a desert planet with rocky faces scattered throughout. Think Tatooine, at least in A New Hope when R2 gets jumped by a band of Jawas. The environment looked very clear in the headset, but still not full HD, which is my biggest issue with any VR headset on the market, or hitting the market this year. Farpoint’s resolution is more than capable at rendering a believable image that your mind will eventually buy into so you can get fully immersed in the experience, but until we get full HD output for VR goggles the somewhat SD output will always leave the experience feeling a bit off. With that being said I was still mesmerized by the planet I was instantly transported to the moment the PlayStation VR was placed on my noggin.
One of the first things I did in the game after starting the demo was to just soak in my surroundings and the weapon I was holding. Again, using the PS VR Aim controller fully completes a virtual FPS experience because the visuals you see match the feeling you have of holding a gun in real life. I couldn’t help but raise the gun up, snap it from side to side, and extend it from my body to see what it looked like in game. Without fail my real world movements with the gun fully rendered in game, effectively selling my brain on the fact that I was holding some sort of futuristic assault rifle that could easily take on the arachnid-like aliens trying to eat me.
Thanks to the gun’s thumbstick you can walk forward, backward, and from side to side, but your movements can also be influenced by where your head looks, so at all times you remain keyed into the virtual experience of being a soldier. It’s hard to not embrace the fact that you are holding a weapon prop, so I also found my body getting into the experience with the gun. I’m sure it made me look like an asshole to onlookers, but in my mind I had become the character I was seeing in the PlayStation VR, so in my reality I was blasting aliens like Rambo even if I looked like a drunk mime pretending to be in a firefight.
I found aiming to be the most natural it has ever felt in a FPS in Farpoint, which again is thanks to the PS VR Aim controller. Since you can wield it like a real gun it just feels like an extension of your body, so making quick and twitchy shots is much easier than using a controller, and I think I could argue that it may even be more precise than a mouse and keyboard setup. Of course this further bolsters Farpoint’s immersion factor by getting your entire body into its experience rather than the more passive VR shooters out there, or just standard FPS titles.
Like I mentioned at the start, if you have ever played war with your finger guns or plastic ones and self provided sound effects, I think you’ll absolutely be blown away by what Farpoint offers when used in conjunction with the PS VR Aim controller. It near perfectly realizes the feeling of shooting a gun in real life, albeit from the safety of the PlayStation VR and your home. It’s hard not to let yourself go and get fully immersed, which is why I found it to be one of the best VR experiences I’ve ever played, if not the tops. Unfortunately the game isn’t a launch title, so the final release date is unknown, but you can pretty much bank on the fact that you’ll need to buy it if you adopt the PlayStation VR as your VR device of choice.
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