Review – Farpoint
Let’s just get this out of the way right now, Farpoint is made for the PlayStation Aim controller. Yes you can use the dual shock to play the game, but if you have already invested this much into PSVR odds are you will want the full immersive experience this bundle offers. Farpoint is a very average first person shooter to the point that it shouldn’t even exist outside of it, but like most VR games, the added immersion allows you to get lost in worlds that would otherwise be mediocre. Luckily, with the help of the PlayStation Aim controller, Farpoint shines as one of the more immersive PSVR games I have played.
Farpoint’s story begins with your main character making his way to a space station to check on a couple of scientists studying an anomaly in space that seems to be giving off unlimited energy. As is tradition, the plan takes a severe wrong turn and the space station and our hero’s ship get sucked into a wormhole and crash lands you on an unknown planet. Stranded with only your trusty assault rifle, your mission stays the same: find the 2 scientists. The story is told by scanning holograms throughout the environments that give you some insight on the scientists’ journey, and also unplayable cutscenes that place you as a fly on the wall watching how they adapt and survive. The cutscenes, while telling the game’s story, seem more like a tool to give the player a break from the fast action VR gunplay and a couple may overstay their welcome. The story is a fairly cliche one that seems to be a mix of Interstellar, The Martian and Starship Troopers and while it will not shock you in the slightest, it does well enough to give you something to invest in.
The gameplay is also very basic, and like mentioned above, pretty much should never exist outside of VR and the use of the Aim controller. The first half of the game starts off fairly slow, funneling you through tight corridors and periodically opening up for a big battle. Essentially it serves as a tutorial letting the players to get used to the Aim controls and various enemy types and tweaking the turning settings to make you feel the most comfortable in VR. They allow you to adjust movement speed and give you the options of a few different turning styles. The default setting is only enabling the left stick for forward, backward and strafe movements while you aim in the direction you want to walk with the Aim controller. There is also small step, big step, click and smooth options and you can adjust the speed of the turning for each one. Since I have my VR legs I went with smooth turning with a sensitivity at 11, and I felt this was the most immersive experience making it feel like you have full control of the character instead of a stiff robot. There was only one time that I got the sweats and motion sickness, but I was really clogged up from a cold so I think it was messing with my equilibrium and caused the dreaded VR sickness.
I want to take a parallel to my last point about the basic gameplay and add that it also happens to be one of the most immersive games I have played. Farpoint doesn’t need to be complex with its shooting mechanics because it’s simply so satisfying using the Aim controller. Being able to bring the gun up to your eye and see through a realistic holo-scope as you’re picking off enemies from a distance, or quickly hip firing your shotgun to blast an alien out of the air is an experience only had through VR and a gun peripheral. The best part is that it actually works! Once you get acclimated to the laws of the game and get used to the controls and positioning of the gun, it really does feel as if you have that gun in your hand. The immersion is also enhanced by the fact that it is a 1:1 tracking so going from aiming down your gun, swapping to a shotgun and hip firing is all as quick and smooth as you want it to be. There were only a couple times that I started getting some aim drifting, but its easily fixed by pausing and hitting the “reset aim” button.
The weapon selection isn’t vast nor is it impressive, but again its how well they feel in your hands that makes the difference. You have your trusty AR with a nice holo-site attachment for your medium to long range foes, and it also has a guided rocket attachment and doesn’t require you to reload. But it will overheat with too much use. Next up is a shotgun, perfect for those pesky aliens that jump at your face and rampaging brutes, it also has a grenade launcher attachment and feels so good hip firing. Its not until after the midway point you start finally getting some weapon variety. The first gun to break up the AR/shotgun combo is an alien rifle that shoots in bursts and has a shield attachment, I found this gun to shoot way too inaccurately, much too slowly, and the small magazine size doesn’t help. One of my other favorites is the sniper rifle. While it doesn’t offer a secondary or an option to zoom, the sight does give a slight magnification and is very accurate. The 4 shot magazine would be a problem, but luckily the gun is a 1 hit kill on most standard enemies. The last gun you get is a spike gun of sorts, where holding the trigger rapidly shoots out up to 8 spikes which explode after 4 seconds unless you hit the secondary fire option and detonate them on command. My main complaint here is that these other guns come way too late in the game, and I felt I hardly had a chance to use these weapons before the end.
The graphics can be very hit or miss at times. The game is no looker, but neither are most PSVR games. There are quite a few sections of some vistas that had me looking off in the distance or some dazzling caves that showed off some nice artwork, but for the most part Farpoint isn’t going to win any graphical awards. I think the bigger problem is that enemies in the distance, specifically the smaller humanoid enemies, can become very hard to see since its a bit blurry. And the lack of aliasing doesn’t help distinguish the character design.
The sound design for all of the weapons is well done and they pack a nice punch, which helps with the immersion of holding the actual gun. All guns have their own distinct sounds that work well, the alien guns have more of a futuristic laser sound as you would expect from a plasma rifle and needle gun. The enemies are distinct as well, with the small arachnid types pitter-pattering as the large brutes stomp the ground. My only gripe here is that there was no epic battle music. Missing was a large score that fit the intense up-close and personal battles, no music build up to a large scale fight. I feel like this was a missed opportunity to make the game standout for more than just the gun play.
The enemy variety is also there for Farpoint. While I am sure we are all aware of the arachnid looking enemies, there are a couple surprise enemy types that I wasn’t aware of before I started the game and I don’t want to ruin them here for you. Between all the different enemy types there’s a good balance of different play styles and weapon choices that work better for certain scenarios. There will be times where you’ll be running and gunning frantically as aliens are swarming you and jumping around and times you’ll be taking cover, blind firing. And the blind firing is actually cool in this game. Peaking around corners, reaching your weapon around and unloading all feels great and as long as you stay within the PSEye boarder it works flawlessly. It’s these little perks of playing Farpoint in VR and with the Aim controller that separates it from being a very standard shooter.
The story campaign will probably only last you about 5 or 6 hours and while this doesn’t seem long, it’s a decent length for a VR game. The good thing though is that there are a couple other modes that will keep you busy outside of the campaign and let you use those late in the game weapons you may have wanted more time with. There is a score challenge mode where you run through a level on a time limit destroying as many enemies as you can. Killing enemies without being hit increases your multiplier for increased score. If you can press forward quick enough you can make to a checkpoint that will add another minute to your timer. Then there is Co-op. Much like the challenge mode, the levels included are completely separate from the campaign, even if they do look similar. The co-op worked just fine, it was easy to connect and start up a match, no confusing lobbies or disconnects. Playing with a partner was fun, flanking the enemies with a shotgun as my partner laid down AR fire was a thrill and felt very satisfying. Both challenge mode and co-op mode offer 4 maps that are all unique, and also offer a range of difficulties to try your hand at.
Farpoint may not be the game that revolutionizes first person shooters in VR, but it does serve as a very good building block for other developers to take note from. It’s one of the most immersive games I have played on PSVR and a lot of that goes to the stellar Aim controller peripheral. It is a great example of providing a full game experience, full movement options and spot on aiming that gives me hope for the future of first person shooters on VR. At times Farpoint can feel like it was specifically made to just showcase the new Aim controller more than move the genre forward in VR, but all-in-all I believe this is a must have for every PSVR owner. But please do yourself a favor and play it with the Aim controller.
Farpoint is available now exclusively for PlayStation VR.