Launched in 2003, the MMO EVE Online continues to attract crowds for now over 13 years, filled with many spin-offs continuing to fuel this passion for fans of the universe. After DUST 514, a well-made first-person shooter, and the pretty ok mobile VR experience called Gunjack (which you can read the review here), the Icelandic studio decided to get out of rail-shooting mechanics and create what everyone wanted from a VR game: space combat with Eve: Valkyrie.
A rich franchise that has been nurtured over the past decade by the studio and its community (the players are a big part of how the core EVE Online universe evolves after all), CCP Games did not just create a simple spin-off for EVE: Valkyrie, and focused on its lore. The game gives player the chance to be one of the innumerable clones infused by a pilot that was killed in combat, and can recall memories of previous battles between the Valkyrie squadron led by Rán Kavik (voiced by Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff) and the forces of Fatal. The story is mainly explained via a bunch of cinematics which are greatly done, and in the end this singleplayer campaign is first and foremost an extensive tutorial, to get you used to the controls of the ships, handle motion sickness (or VR sickness for me) and get reward for doing so.
But the highlight of the EVE: Valkyrie in the end is not in its singleplayer campaign but into the multiplayer, which will make you forget everything you though about being the “badass” pilot you were when playing against the AI, as you’ll discover more seasoned players or even more powerful ships. The game has it all, with different maps that are varied in looks, and many game modes ranging from a simple Team Deathmatch to Capture the points, and just recently added leagues make it a complete multiplayer experience.
When it comes to gameplay, it’s everything you pictured a virtual reality game is: a First-person shooter from within an airship/spaceship cockpit. Once seated in the pilot seat and the VR helmet screwed on your head, the world around you fades away and immerse you into a world with space combat and dogfights. Whether playing alone, or in coop with an AI powered player knowing how to respond to assault orders, or even in multiplayer, EVE: Valkyrie gives you an intense feeling of speed, freedom in flight and this as you attempt to control your vessel perfectly.
Damage on the cabin cockpit, your “windshield” breaking, explosion reducing your field of vision, missiles and other projectiles hitting (or missing) you… The intensity and fury of EVE: Valkyrie battles is crazy and got me to embarrassing moments where I couldn’t handle its intensity and had to take a break. Nevertheless, and regardless of my weakness in VR games, your brain, eye and hands are “instinctively” working together, pushed by the realism that is rarely equaled in the world of shooters. In the end, once you played enough and become an ace virtual space pilot, your return to reality could be a letdown as this immersive experience is so energizing and a great rush.
Like all games heavily into multiplayer, EVE: Valkyrie did not content itself with the simple leaderboards to push players to be the best, but went into a complete player progression system, that includes a whole range of RPG-based mechanics as well as a newly added Valkyrie League (with the recently launched 4th update called Wormholes in February). As you emerge victorious from the space battlefields, you’ll be distinguished by your feats and skills, and showered with experience points that will advance you in ranks, and unlock new ships and improvements for combat. But all of these innovations have a cost, and you’ll need in-game currency to improve your current ship, get a new one and upgrade what’s needed for the tactical requirement of the game mode.
Linear in its approach, the improvements to ships are rather limited, and for example the Wraith has only 3 upgrades available to increase its stats and this is pretty much the same with the other spaceships. This also opens the topic of the ship classes, which are split into Fighter, Heavy and Support, which are different in more than their visual designs, but also in stats and strategy that goes with it. Whether you prefer a Fighter class Wraith or a Support class Phantom ship, your choice of ship will affect the entire battle, defining the weapons and abilities you’ll be using in combat. While some will have the power and maneuverability of a tank, others will offer the speed and light weapons of a fighter, but ultimately, a good mix of all will be needed to ensure victory for a team, and when you find the right balanced group, you’ll notice how efficient this can be.
While the PlayStation 4 (version tested) cannot simply have the same photorealistic environments and characters of an Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End or even The Order: 1886 with the PlayStation VR, I’m really glad of the visual prowess of EVE: Valkyrie. It’s not insanely high-end in terms of graphical performances, but when you’re flying through the trenches of a space station, or over a planet while dodging debris of an asteroid field, you’ll be impressed and things move so fast that you’ll rarely pay attention to the textures.
EVE: Valkyrie was reviewed using a PlayStation 4 digital code of the game provided by CCP Games. The game is also available on both the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive for PC. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• A pretty ok singleplayer campaign
• An exhilarating flight experience in virtual reality
• A tactical and explosive combat experience
• A Multiplayer mode with lots of free updates
• So many customization options
• Would've loved a bit more depth in the story mode
• The game is filled with microtransactions