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Eve: Valkyrie Review

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★★★★

EVE Online is a vast, beloved sci-fi universe. It's also interminably slow for many players, with months-long bouts of corporate subterfuge and politicking detracting from what many love about space action.

Enter, then, EVE Valkyrie – a sharper, faster entry point into CCP Games' expansive realm that has more in common with the likes of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter than it does its own namesake. Already available on PC for use with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, this (quite literally) immersive multiplayer combat shooter is now one of PlayStation VR's finest launch titles.

As a cloned space pirate, you fly with the eponymous Valkyrie squadron, conducting missions on contract. While there's a fairly robust single player story mode, dubbed 'Chronicles' and expanding on the story of your reincarnated pilot's memories, the bulk of the game's content — and appeal — is in its versus play.

Valkyrie packs in three modes — Team Deathmatch, Control, and Carrier Assault. The first two see players facing off in teams in either straight, no-holds-barred 360° shootouts, or domination matches where you seek control of three pre-determined sectors. Carrier Assault, the most absorbing campaign, breaks battles down to stages where you attack valuable freight ships' weak points while avoiding its own defence fighters and turret guns, before taking out the larger ships' core. Impressively, it's cross-compatible with the PC version, too, so all this can be happening while playing with a friend on Oculus or Vive.

There are plenty of ships to unlock, each with their own perks and vulnerabilities, but they all essentially offer the same controls. They're nimble craft, as you'd hope, typically armed with gatling cannons and missiles though mods and upgrades and improve their performance in all areas. Once you're used to the controls, you'll be zooming and banking around like Luke Skywalker, taking out enemies with abandon.

Unfortunately, the controls do take some getting used to. The DualShock 4 is used for vehicle movement, like any conventional shooter, while the PSVR provides you with a wider field of view. You'll need to get used to this combo pretty fast, as learning to look one way while flying another is necessary for your survival, especially when you're playing against other humans rather than AI. The main control benefit of PSVR is that looking at enemies allows you to lock missiles on with a glance, though getting the timing and distance right can be tricky.

"Once you're used to the controls, you'll be zooming and banking around like Luke Skywalker."

Visually, EVE Valkyrie is stunning, despite the PSVR being slightly lower performing than its PC peers. CCP's starry voids are breathtaking. Sadly, there are only five maps at present though, something that we'll hopefully see expanded in future.

The main drawback though is that Valkyrie holds your hand a bit too much early on. Its mandatory training missions are wise for anyone who's never played a 3D shooter before, let alone a VR one, but it takes too long before it allows you freedom to conduct even small changes, like invert the axes.

Still, with daily challenges to keep you coming back regularly and the sheer thrill of being able to live out your Last Starfighter fantasies 'in person', this proves a very strong argument for VR gaming.

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