May 17, 2017
Sony Interactive Entertainment
PlayStation VR released late last year, and while it’s still a successful novelty that goes down well when showing friends and family, it has been waiting for “the game”. The game that proves that not only is it a cool piece of technology, but that it’s also here to stay and capable of showcasing high quality titles that stand next to other AAA releases on the market. Farpoint is definitely an attempt at making this justification a reality, but despite the well-made peripheral it comes with, ultimately comes up short.
To start, the PlayStation Aim Controller isn’t essential to play Farpoint, but it enhances the experience and truly helps with immersion in a way that I wasn’t anticipating. While first glance at the white plastic creation with a glowing ball on the end doesn’t inspire much confidence, once the headset is on and you’re exploring an alien planet, it transforms into an assault rifle, shotgun and other weaponry. It is a well-made peripheral that will hopefully be used for PS VR shooters in the future, and if it is, should be bought by anybody who owns the rest of the kit.
Shooting in Farpoint, partly due to how good the Aim Controller is, feels fantastic. Bullets feel like they have a real punch to them as they obliterate your opponents, and changing weapons is as simple as flicking the controller up over your shoulder for a second. Ammunition is essentially infinite so that you can focus on killing the aliens in front of you, which keeps things moving along relatively quickly, even though the main character moves quite slowly.
“…if you’ve got the stomach for it, you can enable full movement as if you were playing a standard FPS.”
Yes, things go at a leisurely pace when it comes to movement, but I’m sure this is to prevent players from vomiting on the coffee table in front of them. One thing I did appreciate was the variety of movement options that you have access to. When it begins, you initially can only move forward and backward much like an on-rails shooter, but you can choose to move small or large increments, and if you’ve got the stomach for it, you can enable full movement as if you were playing a standard FPS. This is how you’re going to get the most authentic experience, but I wouldn’t recommend it for newbies or for long play sessions.
I’m thankful for these options, but there are far too many areas in Farpoint that require you to trudge through them without encountering anything at all. I guess they had to balance the idea of having a “large” planet to explore and keep the pace in mind for VR novices, but I mostly found the environments samey, boring and bland, barely holding my attention.
It’s a shame, because the immersive nature of VR really does create such an opportunity to create stunning worlds and captivate minds in an incredible way, but that’s just not taken advantage of here. Lots of shades of brown, plenty of rocks and even a lackluster variety of enemies just keeps things chugging along; it’s a good thing the gun stuff is so enjoyable, because the rest is just bland.
The same can be said for the story and characters. Cut-scenes themselves play out from a fixed camera perspective, and while you can move your head to look around you, you often feel like a fly on the wall in a very boring sci-fi drama. Other parts where you scan the environment for traces of your crew are a bit nicer, but they don’t offer much insight to a narrative that stays uninteresting throughout its 5 hour running time.
At least the sound design is on point. Enemies are easy to identify when you hear them scurrying out of the dirt in front of you, the voice acting isn’t terrible (the writing is), and each gun sounds loud and effective. There is also this strange thing where enemies constantly re-position so that they are directly in front of you, which would be super weird in any shooter, until you realize that changing your own position in VR is actually pretty tricky, and if there was an enemy behind you, you’d promptly die before it appeared in your field of vision.
- PlayStation Aim Controller
- Shooting feels good
- Lots of movement options
- Visuals are bland
- Story is bland
I’m frustrated with Farpoint, because the Aim Controller really is wonderful, and the core gameplay is solid, enjoyable and feels good. If the visuals and story held up in the same way, I’d call this a slam-dunk, but they just aren’t as polished as the concept itself. If Farpoint was a regular shooter, it would be held to a much higher standard and fail spectacularly, but as a PS VR experience, it’s currently the most effective shooter available on the market. I just hope that other developers incorporate the Aim Controller as an option for future releases, because the peripheral alone is what makes this package worthwhile.