A new VR experience has arrived on PSVR thanks to Bit Planet Games in the form of a flight sim. Ultrawings is a little more user friendly than that may sound but if you have Move controllers then you get to flick switches, press buttons and fondle your joystick. You can also use a controller if you don’t have Moves but you’ll lose a large part of the immersion.
Accessed through a laptop in your office you can attempt jobs in order to gain money. These jobs are actually minigames and you’ll be rewarded with bronze, silver and gold medals which will grant you a monetary prize. Once you’ve gained enough you can buy new offices on different islands and new vehicles, both of which open up new jobs.
Before you take flight you need to gain a licence with a couple of quick challenges teaching the basics on how each vehicle controls and challenging you to take off, fly through targets and land the plane safely. The first plane, an Ultralight, requires you to open a fuel valve, turn on a magneto with a flip of a switch and starting the engine with the press of a button and then you have control of the throttle to dictate speed. You’ll also get a rocket propelled Glidester, a Blade 350 and a Gee Racer eventually.
Once you’ve gained your licence then you’re given some jobs to take on. There are eight types which open up as you progress. Each will involve a mixture or taking off, flying through targets, and/or landing. There are also more interesting modes which involve popping balloons with a pistol or mounted guns or taking photos of specific landmarks using a tablet. You also have a Freeflight mode if you want to just fly about for no reason. Once you’ve got enough money you can also use this mode to fly to a new island and purchase the airport to gain access to that location’s jobs.
That’s actually it. As you buy new things you gain access to new jobs but they’re just more of the same minigames. It feels like this is an open world game and these are the side activities you do outside the main story and the better side missions but there isn’t anything else here. It’s a pleasant enough time but it’s another case of showing what can be done in VR but not doing enough with it like so many VR games before it.
Flying isn’t that common in VR yet however so how does the overall experience feel? Visually the game is nice to look at, though the stylised graphics are a little on the simple side with a lot of calm, blue ocean and only the odd plane or boat passing by to bring life to the world, but that does mean it’s an incredibly quick loader. The music fits the visual style with a tropical vibe although the single track does become repetitive quite quickly. The actual flying itself comes in both an Arcade and Simulation variety with arcade being simpler and helping you out a little more. The Move controllers vibrate as you interact with each element of the plane which is great for giving feedback and the plane responded as expected whilst using the flight stick and rudders (accessed through face buttons).
There are three comfort modes although in all honestly I didn’t find them to be much different from one another. Flying in VR is a new experience for me and as such I’ve only been able to manage hour long bursts before feeling a little too unwell. The strongest comfort mode blacks out the windows of your cockpit in your peripheral vision, the middle setting doesn’t but does have a very obvious frame around you, whilst turning it all off eliminates that as well giving you a clear view of the skies around you. I stuck with the middle setting and the motion sickness was a slow build, only really feeling too much when I tried to push the plane too far and so lost a little control or when using the rudder to turn the plane in a less smooth manner.
So whether you should try Ultrawings is going to be based on how much you want to fly in VR. The actual feel of flying a simplified plane is there and there’s no doubting that that will be enough for some people. Once you’re in the air though the range of activities isn’t great and although each vehicle feels different you’ll be doing the same activities with them. I haven’t had such a feeling of motion sickness since first getting VR but this will vary from person to person, just don’t make it your first VR experience I would say.
+ Each vehicle feels different
- Environments are quite bland
- Nothing to do outside what are effectively minigames