I’m old enough to remember the first proper first-person shooters on console. Goldeneye on the N64, Medal of Honor on the PS1, even Unreal on my Dad’s PC. As time went on, the games got more complex with their fancy graphics and next-gen features, but nothing really, really made you feel like you were the one wielding the weapon – not even the light-gun style games that came about with the Wii and PS3. Today, however, it’s very, very possible. But is it fun? Is it worth dropping a grotesque amount of money into?
Farpoint is a first-person shooter for the PSVR, so naturally you’ll need to don the expensive headgear to play. What you won’t need, however, are the PS Move wands. Instead you can play with a DualShock 4 controller or, and this is something I highly recommend, the new Aim controller that is available bundled with the game. You can buy it separately but it makes better financial sense to get the pair together, otherwise you end up paying more.
The star of the show is the new peripheral and how you interact with the game using it. Unlike previous gun add-ons from generations gone by, the Aim controller is a completely standalone controller that needs no extras. In fact, the gun itself works pretty much as a DualShock 4 would thank to the fact it has every input that you’d find on a standard PS4 controller, minus the touchpad. You’ve got your two analogue sticks (clickable!) and every other button. It’s a nice bit of kit and the design is fairly intuitive, so much so that after a few minutes of tinkering with the controller I was able to navigate the PS4 home screen from within the PSVR’s big-screen mode with no difficulty.
Right, enough about the buttons, let’s talk about the game. (If you really want to know more about the PSVR Aim Controller, check out our review of the gun here.)
The first 15 minutes or so are a little bit drab. Normally I’d be all for a bit of exposition and back story, but I just wanted to shoot my gun, damn it! The story goes that you and your two colleagues aboard a space station have crash landed on an alien planet. Standard sci-fi trope, then. However, you haven’t all crashed down together. You hit the dirt in your escape pod and find that there’s nobody to check if you’re concussed or not. Tragic. After being given a quick run-down on how the gun works, you’re free to start mooching forwards in the hope of finding your friends so that you may die together, or at least that was my thinking. I’d hate to die alone on an alien planet. Out of spite I’d want to watch my mates die first, just to “win” at living. Pathetic…
Movement is handled by the analogue stick placed at the front of the gun’s grip, and you’ll become accustomed to pushing this forward. You can even click it to go faster, just like you’re used to! However, movement is limited. Very limited. You’re basically confined to moving backwards and forwards while moving your head around to have a look at what’s around you. However, there are options in the game’s menus that let you change this. By going into the game’s menus you can make it so that you’re able to turn your body and go looking off wherever you please. Personally I think this should have been the default setting, otherwise you’re left feeling like you can only go back and forth, when the reality is that you’re free to wander around the game’s (rather linear) world as much as you please. Perhaps it’s to streamline the experience. Maybe it’s to keep the vomit away. Who knows…
After a few minutes of mooching around and firing my gun into nothing in particular (eff you, space rocks!) I was soon attacked by… space spiders. Great. How original. Yes, I knew that they were the common enemy when I went into Farpoint, but I still can’t help but feel a little disappointed at the lack of originality. C’mon, spiders have been done to death in just about every light-gun shooter. But I digress.
As you move on in search of your colleagues, you’ll encounter different variations of enemies to keep you on your toes. There’s great big, fat spitters that’ll bomb you with their green muck from afar, so you’ll need to use the gun’s aiming to get an accurate volley of bullets on them. Here’s where the PSVR Aim Controller really comes into play, let me set it out for you: I was just walking around this alien planet, minding my own business. You know, just taking the air. Out of nowhere these little scally spiders start screeching at me (which was terrifying, by the way) but I ended them with ease. Then this spitter sitting up on a ridge puked its vile crap at me. Rude! Instinctively, I raised my rife and took aim, lining up my scope with the ugly beasts face, one eye closed and – BOOM. A few shots later and the rude monster is no more. And that, my dear readers, is the joy of Farpoint.
Using the gun is intuitive and I didn’t think twice about holding it up to get a better aim. I’d move slowly around rocks, peeking my head out to see if that great big charging spider-monster-thing has seen me (he had) before running in, Rambo style, with my shotgun. It’s picking up the sniper rifle, looking down the scope and holding your own actual breath to steady yourself before pulling the trigger. It is, in a word: Awesome. There is a downside, though, as with everything. Due to the PS4 being a weak machine for VR, the graphics aren’t exactly stellar. They’re good, and at times they’re even great at pulling you in and creating a really tense atmosphere, but the fact remains that the resolution is still pants. You’ll struggle to really see the smaller enemies from afar, and distant object tend to look like blobs until you get a little closer. It’s something that PSVR players will already be familiar with, but it’s worth a mention all the same.
There’s around 6-7 hours of this to be had in the single-player story, which isn’t bad by VR standards. Most VR games I’ve played through to completion are at best 3-4 hours in length, so I wasn’t too bummed out when the credits rolled at the end. Or was I? The story itself was intriguing, but towards the end of the tale it just sort of, well, bummed out. There’s room for more Farpoint in this world, and I for one would take a sequel in a heartbeat. Bear in mind, though, that when you’re firing off rockets and pumping shells like the Terminator, you’re not really going to be thinking about the narrative. I was far too stressed to give a poop about the story when I was being attacked by space monsters, so I’m guessing you will be, too.
While 6 hours may not sound like a lot of action time for your money, there’s more to do than listen to the painfully bad voice-acting of your own character. I really disliked his voice. I can’t put my finger on what it was or why, but I just didn’t like it. The other characters were really though, with some poignant moments between them that created a believable story. Or as believable as a game with space-aliens can be…
Once you’re done with the campaign you can do through it again in the challenge mode where you’ll be playing the same game, but for points. It’s not going to keep you going for months, but it’s always better to have the option than not. The real star outside of the story is co-op. Now this a painful thing for me to talk about. Why? Because it’s so, so, so good, but it’s not nearly as fleshed out as it could be. See, there are only a few maps to play on in co-op, and I can see them getting old fast. That said, it’s still one of the best experiences I’ve had with PSVR and, dare I say it, with a first-person shooter – VR or not. Maybe with a few updates and DLC, Farpoint’s co-op could keep it going for a long while yet.
The co-op sees you and another player (a friend or a random) take on waves of enemies in different locations while you move forward to new areas. It’s hard. It’s fast. It’s bloody tiring. It’s god damn amazing. With your mic on and a some nice headphones, you’re transported to another world where you and a buddy must work together to survive. I played through a few co-op games with mate, but strangely my best experience was with a complete stranger. We had a quick introduction and then we moved forwards to take on the alien menace. “Watch out, spitter on your left!” I cried out to my unnamed comrade. “Thanks – AHHH! Retreat!” He replied. Working together we made short work of everything that got in our way, until we died. Unfortunately we couldn’t hold virtual hands as we bled out, but I’d like to think we’d have had our Forrest Gump-Bubba moment had it been real life. I salute you, dude. See you in another life, brother.
Farpoint PS4/PSVR Review
Farpoint is a must-have game for any PSVR owner - so long as you're willing to drop the cash on the gun bundle. The story is good enough for what it sets out to do, but it's the meaty single-player offering and the online co-op that propels Farpoint to the higher reaches of the VR stratosphere.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a retail copy of the game, as well as a retail PSVR Aim Controller bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
* Reviewed on PS4 Slim using the PSVR Aim Controller.