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E3 2014: Hands-on with EVE Valkyrie and a chat about Legion

Andrew Ross

Why does the guy who gets motion sickness keep getting sent out into space!? Someone on Massively's staff is really looking out for you guys and gals with weak stomachs because once again I was sent to chat with CCP about EVE universe stuff and take an Oculus Rift for a spin at this year's E3. Spoiler alert: I managed to keep down my breakfast and have fun.

First up was EVE Valkyrie, the virtual reality game that this time last year was still known as EVR. While the game looked a bit familiar, there were certainly some differences. First is the addition of Rán (it sounds like "roun"). Rán is sort of the first Valkyrie and your trainer, acting as sort of your flight instructor and mission debriefer, who helped give me a sense of setting. EVR was fun before, no doubt, but it was a stripped-down flight simulator (not a bad thing). Having a narrator makes it feel more like a game. The addition of some brighter and bolder colors helps boost immersion too.

The game itself is rather simple. Kill the enemy team without being killed as much within a few minutes. It was media vs. devs, but despite the fact that my partner said he'd had ton of experience, we lost badly, in part because of a new addition since my last demo: Most of the damage you take comes from missiles, and I found I now have to drop anti-missile chaff to avoid those missiles. I personally preferred the old system of boosting at the right time to avoid missiles, but maybe CCP will add that back in as well. As things currently stand, you must use chaff or cover to avoid missiles. If you don't, you'll get hit every time (which was what happened the whole first round as I kept trying to boost away from the missiles as I had last time). It sounds like that makes it too easy to avoid missiles, but one dev mentioned that he simply loads up another missile after launching his first one. The first one will absorb the counter-measures so the second one goes through. To me, having the option to also boost would help make the games feel a bit more intense, but Valkyrie still takes advantage of virtual reality and uses it to make a game I would certainly pay for.

To fire off your missles, you hold down the trigger, look at the target, wait for the lock on, and release. And when I say look, I don't mean move your ship to face the enemy. In the second round, I was only gently turning to avoid hitting an asteroid I was also using as cover, but my head -- my real, physical head -- was turned almost completely around so that I could lock on to one of the devs. Games like Wii Sports are fun and all, but Valkyrie's virtual reality is just a whole other system of immersion. Moving your character one way while shifting your body another feels natural but probably looks really funny to those not playing. People wonder whether they'll get sick, but consider that I was the kid who had to leave IMAX films to avoid making a mess on the theater floor. I had to take a break from some racing games in the early 2000s because the 3-D graphics set off my motion sickness. I still have some trouble in small planes, but I don't even feel dizzy when I play CCP's VR flight sim. It really is a big deal for someone like me to be able to enjoy these, so folks on the fence about the whole VR thing should at least give it a go.

Of course, I couldn't just walk away from the CCP devs without asking about Legion. Last year I also played DUST 514 for the first time, and while it wasn't quite as intimidating as EVE itself, I just couldn't bring myself to buy a PlayStation 3 for one game. Might Legion solve my problem? According to CCP, the current and not-set-in-stone plan is that Legion and DUST 514 won't interact with each other at all. It would be nice if Legion could be used to help boost the population of DUST, but it doesn't seem that it's meant to. DUST is also not going to receive the same support it currently does (the devs pointed to a recent update and another on the way). Worse still is that apparently there's room for only one shooter to interact with EVE. While there's still room for change, it looks as if Legion will be the game that connects to the live EVE servers, while DUST is left in the... dust. Anything can happen at this point, but I wasn't able to walk away with any long-term good news for DUST players. At the very least, fans can be assured of support and the knowledge that Legion isn't coming out anytime soon.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-12, bringing you all the best news from E3 2014. We're covering everything from WildStar and Landmark to Skyforge and H1Z1, so stay tuned!

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