Farpoint

CES 2017 – Farpoint VR Demo

The demo was fun, and felt real. A little too real.

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Virtual reality, at least for me, has always been hit or miss. Even in its pre-production phase at last year’s CES, the PSVR was the most comfortable and most impressive. This year, Sony brought a VR experience and demos for Gran Turismo Sport and Farpoint.

Regardless of how much of a petrol head I am, I’m terrible at Gran Turismo, so I decided to give Farpoint a shot. Hearing mixed things about Farpoint online, I went in with zero expectations. I’m glad I did, because my opinion is my own, and much different from the others.

Farpoint VR
I kept stepping back, so the rep had to keep pushing me forward, haha!

Farpoint is incredibly immersive – the headset playing a big part in this. For those of you who have never tried PSVR, the headset stretches on top [to put on without struggle] and rests on the forehead, with the goggle portion being adjustable to slide back and forth. The headset is light, comfortable, and doesn’t give you the awkward gap under the eyes. As someone who shoots left handed, I was able to switch the controls to suit my preference and see the visual switch instantly.

The controls were very straight forward – knock the gun over your shoulder to change weapons, lower to reload, far trigger for laser-guided missiles, close trigger to shoot – all of it felt very natural. At no point did I feel the controls were awkward or difficult to navigate; to me this is very important, and a big accomplishment for VR gaming.

The game starts you off in a Mars-like desert environment, with all sorts of environmental things happening around you. Wind blows and makes the dust fly past you. Rocks fell from high mountain tops, and waterfalls and rivers moved and sounding naturally.

Farpoint does not offer a safety net: if you want to walk off a ledge, you can. If you want to turn the controller around and blow your damn head off, you’re more than welcome to do that, too. The demo pushes you through several scary situations – walking on ledges with endless drops, scaling the sides of mountains – all while enemies are creeping up on you trying to stop you from getting to your destination.

Farpoint VR
Me, moments before whacking that nice man.

The enemies (as my luck would have it) were spiders. Not just regular spiders, but giant spiders that spat venom clusters the size of cannonballs. If you know me reasonably well, you know I abso-fucking-lutely hate spiders and would much rather eat glass than have an encounter with even a daddy-long-legs. Towards the middle of the demo, spiders came up behind me and latched onto my shoulder. Forgetting it was all just a game, I one-handedly waved the controller around and whacked the very kind PlayStation rep with the other (if you’re reading this – I am still very, very sorry).

The demo also phased into a flashback scene, walking through a dark cave with hologram characters talking about the chemicals surrounding them, warning each other not to say anything. I was able to walk right up to them, and get a close up look of their faces: the mouth movements and facial expressions were absolutely flawless.

My only gripe with the demo (aside from the obvious spider factor), was the laser-guided missile control. I may have been missing something, but where I thought the laser was pointing wasn’t exactly where the missile ended up. I still successfully killed the gigantic spider boss with it at the end. Prior to that, however, I shot it a little too close which resulted in my death — assuming and feeling as if I utilized the controls correctly.

Farpoint is still in development, and no release date has been announced. Farpoint and the PSVR do utilize the original Move controllers (the navigation controller is no longer needed), but the gun peripheral will be different. If this demo is its alpha phase, I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

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Tatjana Vejnovic
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