At one point you couldn’t move for space dogfighting simulators. They were often used to show off new technology launches as a means to show off high detailed ships, special effects and controller inputs with classics such as Colony Wars, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Asteroids coming to mind. Over the years it seems that the space simulator had somewhat fallen out of favour. This could be down to the lack of variance in gameplay scenarios or locales but it is a genre that has been missed by many, including myself.
This was of course until recently where the space simulator came back in the form of Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen on PC. Both of which requiring tactics such as early access involvement or kickstarter backing to get going. Even then, these games didn’t necessarily feature the combat that a lot of people craved, relying more so on more realistic simulation and complications rather than a straight up fly and shoot experience.
Enter Eve: Valkyrie then. A new starship combat game based on the Eve MMO universe. Shying away from the space corporation simulation to create a new yet familiar game type. This is not the first time that Eve has appeared in another genre of course. Recently we had the relative flop that was Dust 514 which had the ambition to try and link a first person action game to the MMO directly. CCP games this time around have decided to not be as so adventurous and for the most part it works.
Eve: Valkyrie is first and foremost a multiplayer game. Favouring online dogfights over campaigns. As you start the game you get a brief introduction to who you are. You play as a clone of a pilot that died during a large battle, With your consciousness downloaded into new clone pilot bodies so that you can cheat death and provide your expertise to each battle again and again. You get to play a scene in which you witness the first death of your pilot however this is just a twenty minute mission which ends just as it is starting to get good. Other than this for single player you get some basic training missions for each type of ship you can get and very little else. Which is a shame.
What it does give you is the VR experience. There is nothing quite like blinking between loading screens to have you sat in the cockpit of your own ship. VR is made for cockpit based games like this and much like Battlezone all of the HUD details are littered around your dashboard which do not overfill you with information or confuse for the sake of it. It leaves you right in the action and this is where Eve shines. The game fully supports the use of your viewpoint in a way that was previously relegated to a control stick, making for a more natural experience. Not only do you get a sense of place but you can use your vision as a weapon. Locking on to enemy ships to fire off a barrage of missiles while also navigating asteroid fields is an absolute blast and needs to be tried at least a few times.
This fluid combat makes the online modes shine brightly, with 8v8 mission types across a slew of different types of space based locales. For example you may be navigating through an asteroid belt, hiding between moving space rocks while you whittle away at the enemy team’s life counters or in a favourite mode of mine you be tasked with taking down a capital ship by claiming relay points between yours and theirs. Once relay points are stolen you can then fly up to the enemy capital ship and after some weakening fly into the open metal wounds to strike at the core keeping it afloat. The modes are all exhilarating in VR and feel amazing to play. The issue I have with this however is that like the single player the content seems quite sparse compared to other multiplayer efforts.
Currently there are only six maps in the game with more on the way soon. This can lead to fatigue setting in earlier than seems polite for a multiplayer focussed title. There are plenty of ways to keep you going however this is set to an unlock system that relies on currency you can unlock as you play. This is where another big issue comes in. Microtransactions are very prominent in the game and they are not the friendly kind. These payment options give you boost to your credit currency, allowing you to unlock more ships, cosmetic details and implants which boost your pilots efficiency. These can make a difference in game and can unbalance things somewhat with some players being able to jump ahead of the pack quite soon after they start. As Eve is set with a big box price from the off this can seem very off putting at the start. However as you progress and get better at the game things start to balance out.
Nevertheless if you can look aside from these modern gaming foibles then Eve: Valkyrie is one of those games that will rekindle those childhood dreams of jumping in a spaceship cockpit and dogfighting through the stars. It scratches that itch capably and leaves me wanting more, which can never be a bad thing.