EVE Valkyrie Looks Awesome – but is the Oculus Rift?

EVE Valkyrie Screenshot - Missile Lock

EVE Valkyrie Looks Awesome

Note: I use this discussion of Valkyrie to segue into a few issues that affect all games ‘made’ for the Oculus Rift.  I might sound harsh, but that doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to Valkyrie or that I’m thankful for CCP’s contribution to a genre that is badly in need of new titles –  I’m definitely looking forward to Valkyrie and the Rift! 

The ~45 second EVE Valkyrie trailer that debuted last year is probably the most exciting space game video I’ve ever seen (not to be confused with the game that I’m most excited about, which is obviously Homeworld: Remastered).  The trailer is gritty, it has that hardcore Battlestar Galactica feel (and it should – the main voice is that of Katee Sackhoff!).  It has immersion-giving battle chatter, similar to Homeworld.  It looks totally skill-based.  It starts out with the player being launched out of what I presume to be a capital ship from a launch tube, BSG style:  how freaking awesome is that?  Totally rad.  Check it out if you haven’t seen it, (while keeping in mind that the game has gone to an entirely new engine since this video was made, dramatically cranking up the visual ‘holy shit’ factor):

Oh, No. Will it require the oculus rift?

This was my concern as well, but thankfully the answer is no.  While the Rift is the coolest piece of tech ever to happen to space games in theory, it hasn’t been fully realized yet.  However, there are still potential downsides.

I’ve used both of the devkits, and to quote what the Oculus staff were saying repeatedly at PAXaus 2014: “it’s not ready yet, and won’t be for probably years” (which clashes somewhat with their recent announcement that the rift could be available commercially in 2015) which I have to agree with: they were awesome, but these babies are not ready for prime-time yet.  And neither are most gamers: can your machine drive an AAA title on not one, but two screens at  a constant minimum of 70fps (as Oculus employees stated will be necessary)?  If the answer is no, playing Valkyrie on a consumer-ready Rift wouldn’t work for you.  So will you be SOL when it comes to playing Valkyrie?  The verdict is still out.

From what’s been said in multiple interviews with CCP (more videos below) it appears to be designed for combat on the Rift, with controls tailored for VR users.  This is one of the things that concerns me about Valkyrie.  I want to play Valkyrie, and I want lots of other people to play it also.  But how playable will it be without VR – because, realistically (and at Oculus’s own admission at PAXaus 2014), VR is many years away from becoming mainstream, and may never become mainstream?  Will players on VR have a distinct advantage?

We are going to focus on VR first, and the release date for Valkyrie will be related to the release date of the hardware – CCP Games, E3 2014

I love the ‘look at feel’ of Valkyrie, and I admire CCP for embracing new technologies such as the Rift.  However, how many of us actually have machines that can drive a game based on the UT4 engine on dual 1080 screens at a minimum of 70 FPS to use the Rift?  And will the Rift actually be available in the near future?

Eve Valkyrie Demo on Oculus Rift

These are important questions in my mind because *IF* the Rift is available to consumers anytime soon (and that’s a big if), will the small percentage of players that are willing to spend several thousand dollars on extra hardware to use the Rift (the ‘average gamer’ according to steam stats has a 2gb graphics card – this won’t be sufficient to drive the Rift’s dual 1080 screens at the 70 FPS minimum each that will be required) have a huge advantage over those not using the Rift?

Please don’t take all of this as Rift bashing – like I said, I’ve used the dev kits, and I think, potentially speaking, they’re totally rad.  However, my primary concern with games is, well, their playability – and a big part of playability is accessibility!  Food for thought, no?

Valkyrie: Spreadsheets in space it ain’t

Thankfully EVE Valkyrie is not ‘space accounting’ like EVE online is.*  Nope, this game is not for the noobs people that enjoy playing excel with a pretty skin, because Valkyrie is all about the combat – and what looks like some gritty, hardcore combat with that ‘I-sense-a-suicide-coming’ melodramatic awesomeness reminiscent of Battlestar Galactice.

CCP stated they were wanting a “foreboding”  atmosphere, which they seem to have nailed – and I love it.  Speaking of atmosphere, valkyrie was recently switched over the Unreal 4 engine.  Talk about atmosphere: the difference is massive!  Along with the engine switch came a HUD redesign, which was apparently a challenge given Valkyrie’s ‘made for VR’ design looks awesome.  It looks similar to Elite Dangerous’s HUD IMO, but still has a that luscious ‘dark’ look and feel.  Also, check those incredible particle effects (missile trails, explosions) the UT4 engine allows for (UT4 footage starts at ~7:15 in the below video).  In summary? It’s space combat.  It’s dark.  It’s skill based.  Even with the potential issues arising from being made for VR, I’m sold.  .

There are a lot of pretty visuals and a lot of discussion about Valkyrie + VR, but besides that, details are pretty scarce.  The game will feature three fighter-class ships in three roles: Fighter, Heavy, and Support, with on-the-fly ship and weapon loadout changes.  There will be weapons and ship customization which will apparently need to be unlocked (presumably through progression).  There will be some form of progression in the form of character advancement and rank, which I definitely like.

EVE Online players will appreciate that Valkyrie is definitely a part ofEVE universe and not a standalone game world. and that some historical characters from EVE will take part in the story for Valkyrie, mainly Ran Kavik (voiced by Katee Sackhoff – nice touch, CCP!).  We also know that the release date is tied to the release date of VR hardware (most probably the Rift, although support for Sony’s Project Morpheus is being built into the game, which leads us to conclude that there will be a PlayStation 4 version).

And that’s about all we know for now, but keep watch here for future coverage.  I just hope it will be available this decade..

Eve Valkyrie Unreal 4 Engine Screenshot - Missile Explosions

EVE Valkyrie: www.evevalkyrie.com
Release Date: Unknown

*Yes, that’s my opinion.  Don’t like it?  Go start your own space gaming site.  With Hookers.  and Blackjack.  On second thought…

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Michael Maddox is Editor-in-Chief at Fists of Heaven, and can be reached at mike [at] fistsofheaven.com

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