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Valkyrie: Ready When the Hardware’s Ready

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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Space Sports Shooter

If blowing up enemy spaceships is fun, then doing it with friends is even better. But how many are you going to be able to have with you on this explosive, intergalactic jamboree? According to Willans, that’s something that the team’s still hammering out. “It’s still pretty flexible. Everyone tends to go for 4 or 5 as part of a flight squad. For me personally, I’d love to think we can balance a nice five-man squad, but that’s just because I play with four of my best friends online so, if we do a four-man squad, one of the guys doesn’t play. But that’s a very personal reason [laughs]. I think 4-5 man squads are very good, but if for any reason we found the dream number was 3, we’d go for 3. We’ll see what the results are from gameplay.”

It’s the same story with team composition between the different classes of ship. “Within the straightforward team deathmatch scenario, that might be incredibly different to a game where you’ve got objectives. We’re really experimenting at the minute with objectives and cool set-pieces that we’ll probably reveal more of later in the year, but we’re looking at how that balance is effective – are you going to take three heavies out and one fighter, or is there an ideal number? So we experiment. All of the stuff is pretty much there, we just need to test it with the new objectives and see what’s cool.”

With any kind of competitive game these days, the question of eSports eventually rolls around. While he’d love for EVE: Valkyrie to become an eSports title, Willans was clear: “You don’t make the game for eSports, it picks you.” He continued that “We’re getting everything we can in there, we’re hoping we can get the community together, and get momentum behind us. I’ve got a vision of people on-stage in [EVE Online] pirate suits, with headsets which are like Ran’s headset there, as special VR headsets. I think it’d just be an epic stage show, with the screen behind and someone commentating on the match”

That includes adding some of the multiplayer staples we’ve seen elsewhere, but tailoring and tweaking them to work in a VR environment. “We do want to have those kind of features – your kill cams, your spectator cams, but we don’t know exactly what form they’re going to take yet. We’ve done a lot of noodling around tactical maps, how you update the information mid match.”

“And because it’s VR, it’s a brand new medium, and so it’s a bit of trial and error to find out what works, what gives you the information that’s critical to the battle, and what’s the best viewpoint is for that – is it 2d, is it actual 3d? We could even put people in the actual cockpits, but what’s the sensation when you say ‘OK, I’m going to put you in this other guy’s cockpit,’ but you’re not in control of it, so it could feel a bit weird. Basically we’re experimenting with all of it, and we’ll probably end up with ‘This is the one’.”

Finally, as we wrapped up, I asked Willans if he thinks that EVE: Valkyrie could be a system seller for the Oculus Rift, when the consumer version finally goes on sale. His reply was emphatic. “I absolutely believe it, I totally believe it. Obviously they’re a really good partner for us, and I hope that relationship continues. Since day one, it’s been super, and they definitely know the potential of Valkyrie. It’s so immediate.”

Myself, I’ll be counting down the days until my next trip into space. EVE: Valkyrie continues to be the best VR game I have ever experienced. For those of us who’ve been crying out for a leap in innovation and immersion in gameplay, CCP’s latest is taking giant strides. It’s an incredible glimpse of the future of online gaming, and I can’t wait for more people to experience it.

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Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.