How do you destroy an immortal foe? Fatal—leader of Guristas pirates—is stealing the consciousness of fighter pilots at the point of their death. He is using their skill and tactical knowledge to amass an immortal army. Rán was one of these pilots. Upon learning the facts of her death, she broke away from her new master. Now she leads the Valkyrie and, using Fatal’s technology against him, she is building her own army. How do you destroy an immortal foe? You take his wealth and power.
EVE: Valkyrie is a space dog-fighting game set in the universe of New Eden. You play an immortal fighter pilot unburdened by the fear of death. As you progress through the game, you will master three classes of ships. The fighter class is a general-purpose damage dealer equipped with autocannons and missiles. The heavy class can soak up a lot of damage and makes any pilot who comes in range of its cannons regret it. The support class is the most nimble ship and it uses advanced electronics to suppress enemies or aid allies.
The game starts with three scripted missions that introduce you to the lore of Valkyrie. Afterward, you take part in the team-deathmatch mode until you reach rank five. During this period, you with often find AI pilots in your squad and on the enemy side as well. After reaching rank five, you unlock the other ship classes and all PvP game modes. In addition to team-deathmatch, there are control and carrier assault modes. The control mode requires you to hold sections of space and burn down enemy resources. The carrier assault mode has multiple phases. It starts out like control then transitions to an attack on the enemy carrier. It is the longest of all game modes with a match lasting 15-20 minutes.
In addition to the PvP modes, there are two PvE modes. The scout mode is a solo experience where you learn more about the backstory of the Valkyrie. This mode is great for learning the layout of the maps and practicing piloting your ship. The co-op mode pits you and your squad against AI opponents. It is a great place for practicing squad tactics and gather salvage—a crafting resource. You should spend some time in these PvE modes before diving into PvP.
As you advance in Valkyrie, you gain upgrade blueprints and unlock new variants of each ship class. The quartermaster builds upgrades for you and provides cosmetic options for your ships. You start out with one launch tube and, as you advance, you unlock three more. Each launch tube has a ship assigned to it. The ships you assign are the only ones available during a battle. Unlocking more launch tubes gives you the ability to adjust your strategy to counter the landscape of the battle.
The PvP in Valkyrie is intense. The maps have a lot of obstacles to hide behind and you need to leverage these to setup ambushes and avoid missiles. Colliding with these obstacles will damage your ship which makes piloting a challenge. There are some great solo obstacle courses you can use to practice navigating the maps. These are hard. If you can successfully complete them you have mastered flight. Every ship has a head tracked weapon so you are looking around a lot. Make sure you have a solid chair because falling out of it is not fun!
With the release of EVE: Valkyrie for SteamVR, the game is now available on all major PC and console virtual reality platforms. The game plays the same on the HTC Vive as on the Oculus Rift. The text is less crisp on the Vive due to the difference in lenses between it and the Rift. The text, however, is still very readable. The controls are the same since CCP opted to forgo support for the Vive’s hand-tracked controllers. At this time, Valkyrie supports game pads and joysticks for control input.
The test PC had an i7-4770K, 16 GB of RAM, an NVidia GTX 970, and a Steam Controller. Valkyrie performed great on this machine and the head tracking was flawless. The default settings for the stick on the controller were too sensitive. With my mediocre skills using a controller, I couldn’t hit the broadside of Nyx. After configuring the stick for relaxed mode, it was much easier to aim. The relaxed mode uses an exponential curve that is less sensitive near the center but still provides full control movement. This is similar to the radio configuration used for remote control aircraft.
Valkyrie does a good job designing around virtual reality sickness. The cockpit grounds you and helps your mind cope with the fact that your aren’t really moving. Nausea wasn’t a problem but there was an initial period of unease with every game session. However, this passed quickly. I spent hours in Valkyrie with no hint of VR sickness.
One disagreeable feature of Valkyrie is the navigation system used for the hub. During his presentation at Eve Vegas, CCP Roo outlined the design decisions that went into refining the game hub. Concentric circles guide the presentation of information with the most important things up front and center. As you look around the item in front of you highlights for selection. Since no virtual reality headset supports eye tracking, the game may not think you are looking at the thing that you think you are. This is especially noticeable on the circle closest to you and it forced some awkward head movement to select the menu item. For example, the settings menu is to the right on the closest circle. I had to look nearly straight down to activate it. If CCP had supported the Vive’s controllers, their laser pointer mode would have made navigating the menus easier.
Overall, Valkyrie is a fun game with a large amount of replayability. The level of PvP competition is high and the maps allow for a variety of tactics. At rank five you are matched with very good pilots that present a real challenge. The price of Valkyrie is 70% higher than the second most expensive virtual reality title. CCP Games is clearly capitalizing on having the most polished VR game on the market. There is a plethora of enjoyable titles for virtual reality but very few AAA games. Valkyrie stands out front and does what CCP does best—push the limits of a genre. It is the most polished VR game on market and it will captivate you for many hours.