A lot of people have been building up Farpoint to be “the saviour of PSVR” or at least the “best excuse to dust off your PSVR headset”. I take some issue with both of those statements as I do not think that the PSVR needs saving and the steady stream of games since launch has been difficult enough to keep up with – even for someone who has been lucky enough to get a load of review codes for games. That said, many people seem to only be judging the library of games by the number of releases that measure up to the AAA standard. While I think this is short-sighted and the wrong approach to VR, there is no doubt that games such as Resident Evil VII and Farpoint do more to grab headlines and mainstream attention.
• Developer: Impulse Gear
• Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
• Reviewed on: PSVR
• Release Date: Available Now
The story kicks off with you piloting a ship on the way to rendezvous with a Space station studying a mysterious space anomaly. As you arrive and start to pick up two scientists, Dr Moon and Dr Tyson, the proverbial space poop hits the space fan and the space anomaly sucks all three of you along with your space ships and space station into a wormhole that spits you back out somewhere else in space. The story then sees you attempting to catch up to Dr Moon and Dr Tyson after they get separated from you and getting clues on their whereabouts by scanning fragments that you pick up on throughout your journey. While this seems odd at first it does a good job of giving you a sense of isolation on a hostile alien world, while still having some characters to grow attached to and gain exposition and other story details from their interactions with each other.
The action starts shortly after you crash land on a mysterious planet. The decision to have the player land in the only dust storm you see throughout the game baffles me – as it creates a bad first impression of the environmental graphics and could have been used much more effectively as a nice variation to the gameplay later on. After a short walk through one of the most unimpressive environments in the game, these open out into some attractive vistas and then you are quickly set upon by an ever increasing size of space spider-like creatures. It is from here onwards that the game, especially with the use of the Aim controller, really begins to shine.
Moving the controller and seeing how accurately it maps the movement of your gun in-game is a trick that has yet to get old even after playing through the whole game. Bringing the gun up to your eye to look down the sight, especially when using the holosight on the assault rifle, seems like digital wizardry. Changing weapons by flicking the AIM controller up to your shoulder does make you feel like a badass but more hectic firefights can see you resorting to the quicker and more reliable backup option of pressing the triangle button. I had a few issues with calibration (partly due to my setup having the camera below my TV and Farpoint makes a point of recommending it being situated above the TV) and I wish you could do a full recalibration without having to exit the game, but overall I really enjoyed using the AIM controller and would not advise playing the game without it. I played the game from start to finish from a seated position and while this is possible I strongly recommend moving your camera to be above your TV as the tracking was much more accurate and it was much easier to duck behind cover.
As is becoming the norm for VR, there is a number of comfort options for you to use. The default setting is to have one joystick allowing forward, backwards and side-stepping movement with aiming controlled via the gun and headset, this also then tracks some movement of going around gentle corners. I found this default setting very disconcerting as it felt like I was walking around on an orthogonal board (like playing a Sci-fi version of ITV’s Knightmare with fewer directions from friends.) I have never had any issues with VR nausea so immediately changed the movement all the way to “Smooth”, cranked up the turning speed and never looked back – although looking back in PSVR is never a good idea as it has tracking issues if facing away from the camera!
Some of the weapons are definitely better than others. The two you find early on, the assault rifle and shotgun, remain some of the best throughout the game – partly as they both have alternate fire modes that shoot rockets and launch grenades. The sniper rifle is very useful, so much so that I generally tried to keep one handy throughout the rest of the levels. Apart from the assault rifle which overheats, all of the other weapons require a reload sequence but not ammo supplies (aside from the explosive alternates). The weapons overall felt very reminiscent of the recognisable but future tech feeling guns of the Mass Effect series. The plasma rifle has a useful shield but felt disappointingly underpowered and the shield confuses in hectic firefights and then disappears at seemingly the most inopportune moments. The spike launcher was handy against some enemy types but given that you can only carry two weapons at any one time, it does not really leave much room for weapons with limited functionality. The only other issue I had with weapons throughout was that the splashback from the grenades and rockets seemed a bit inconsistent and there is perhaps no more of a frustrating way to die in an FPS than blowing yourself up when firing through a window or gap that looked easily big enough for you to safely shoot through.
I do not want to spoil the surprise of some of the enemy types but suffice to say there are three factions you encounter throughout the game. The first set of space spiders may be indigenous to the planet but it would have been nice to have some explanation of the presence of the other factions more widely covered in the story. The space spiders and second faction had a nice diversity to them that did not seem to carry over to the more one-dimensional third faction that lacked a bit of imagination.
It is not the longest campaign at around 5-6 hours – and only stretched this far by suicidal splashback and the occasional unkind checkpoint, but I would rather this than the game outstaying its welcome. The challenge mode does a good job of adding some greater variety and has a completely different layout of enemies that tasks you with killing quickly while reaching checkpoints to add more time to your limited game clock. This mode also features a combo system that encourages strategic rapid ordering of kills. Additionally, there is a co-op mode that adds even further replayability that allows you to team up with another player and face off against waves of enemies – this is further enhanced by these levels again being differently laid out from the other modes with a nice variety across the levels. I actually ended up trying this out with a random stranger that was using his friend’s PSN account and had never played any of the game before – and I still had fun doing so!
Overall I really enjoyed my time with Farpoint. From a mechanical standpoint, it works wonderfully well and feels like the first step on a grander path to a plethora of fully fledged first person shooters that will undoubtedly follow in its footsteps. There is the occasional misstep, but I can see me hot-footing it back to this for a long time to come. However (and minor spoilers for the ending of the game, so check out now if that is an issue) I was massively disappointed with the ending of the story. There are a lot of mysteries that are built up in the game and I am not sure if the answers were held back for DLC or a sequel but I was left so underwhelming confused by the ending that I immediately went and rewatched the final cutscene to see if it had skipped a major portion of it. Apparently not, but I could not help feeling a little cheated for the lack of pay off. Which put a tiny sour end note on an otherwise fantastic gaming experience.