Farpoint isn’t quite the VR shooter that Impulse Gear promised, but it’s close. A mixture of a VR experience, shooter and a walking simulator, its six-hour core experience is certainly unlike anything else VR gamers have experienced.
As a pilot flung into the far reaches of space and searching for two scientists, Farpoint is split into two stories within three main acts. The story you don’t get to play is by far the better of the pair, dealing with the two scientists as they deal with surviving in a mysterious new environment. Your story consists of walking around with a gun, shooting things that jump at you and scanning holographic remnants of the duo you’re searching for. Scanning holos provides you glimpses into the scientists’ story, sometimes from the POV of a conveniently placed camera, and at other times from the POV of the scientists themselves. While your character does have several spoken lines, he’s essentially a shell; another Master Chief that shoots first, hardly asks questions and lets the smarter people do the heavy lifting.
Farpoint is pretty as all hell, and wants you to truly realise that — intense firefights are accentuated by large areas where you simply walk from battleground to battleground, taking in the sites as you go. There’s a definite walking simulator experience to be had moving from location to location, scanning holos and watching events of the past play out before you. Players on PS4 Pro benefit from super-sampling; the best way to explain it is that things just seem smoother, making the immersive experience a touch better.
The VR Aim controller is a great way to play Farpoint, though I almost fared as well with a DualShock 4. The best bit about the controller itself is that it aids in immersion; I found myself closing one eye and bringing the peripheral to my face (or PSVR headset, whatever) to properly aim down its sights for headshots galore. Weighty but not enough to be a burden, the controller feels like a proper weapon rather than a toy. The only problem with it is that it will occasionally glitch out, skewing itself to the left or right when you’re aware you’re holding it directly in front of you. The tracking of the controller and headset means you have almost 360 degrees of vision and movement, though you’re not able to shoot directly behind you — your body blocks the PS Camera’s ability to track. Thankfully, you’ll never have to shoot behind you — enemies have a habit of running back to your proper field of vision if they end up behind you.
While the VR AIM controller is technically optional, it’s borderline mandatory, working far better than the DualShock4’s lightbar when it comes to intuitive aiming. Movement-wise, I didn’t get sick from the right-stick movement at all, regardless of VR Aim or DualShock, and highly recommend that setup to veteran players rather than just steering by veering your gun from left to right. The game does start you off, straight into the single-player story, with only left-stick movement, though if you quit the game you can enter into a proper menu and correct that.
Enemies are predictable, though there are several difficulty spikes as a result of large numbers of baddies on-screen at one time. Weapon and crowd management are highly important in these scenarios — intermittent, wonky controller tracking alongside simple bad luck rather than a lack of skill will cause you to meet your demise at the legs of space spiders. Checkpoints are largely unforgiving, causing you to re-play large portions over and over when you’re downed. I was frustrated to clear out an arena and begin viewing of a holorecording only to meet my death at the hands of a mech who’d wandered in from the next arena over. Upon a reboot, I had to take down four large mechs to get back to that same point; it wasn’t a walk in the park.
As we surmised in our preview, co-op play is the best bit of Farpoint. Spread over four levels with as many difficulties, it’s very rewarding to charge through enemies with a friend, worrying less about death as you are besting your buddy. A single-player challenge mode also relies on a multiplayer for points scoring and works if you find yourself friendless. That may very well be the case, as VR is a pricey hobby to undertake; the Farpoint/VR Aim controller bundle is a whopping $130 AUD, not even taking the cost of PSVR itself into account.
Judged as a shooter, Farpoint is as generic as they get; thankfully, Impulse Gear’s effort has other things going for it. The side-story is rewarding, even if some of it goes without resolution, and its immersive visuals alone make it a treat to play. Farpoint gets points — pardon the pun — for proper, fluid movement in a sea of games that force you to stand in one place or simply teleport from area to area. The title lots in as far better than VR experiences like The Martian VR or Ghostbusters VR, doesn’t fare as well as Batman: Arkham VR, Star Trek: Bridge Crew or Resident Evil 7 — games that put you in the shoes of a childhood hero or offer gameplay that compares with an AAA title, not just one in VR.
If you’ve a PlayStation VR, this is definitely one for the library.
Farpoint was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, PS4 Pro and PlayStation VR, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.