Farpoint Review – Lost in the Stars
Upfront Farpoint is one of the best VR experiences ever. The game is a near perfect FPS title that is an absolute must buy for any VR owner or someone interested in VR. Farpoint has a heartfelt story, engaging gameplay, and doesn’t make you sick in the slightest. This review will discuss some story details but for the most part this will remain spoiler free.
Farpoint tells the tale of doctors Grant Moon and Eva Tyson as they are dragged through a wormhole and thrown into a hostile environment. The actors have incredible depth, you can hear their sadness, their anger, their desperation, their hope. The story has amazing pacing with every story chunk doled out during gameplay via scanning hologram data. These small segments break up the combat in a good way, with the player feeling that they are getting ever closer to finding Dr. Tyson and Dr. Moon. Their story ends with a heartbreaking moment but the game still has about another hour’s worth of content. This last section introduces you to a new character and several new enemy types. The story has a conclusion that leaves it open to potentially more content or even a sequel. Farpoint stands as the pinnacle of VR storytelling with the campaign lasting around 8 hours. With this much attention to detail Impluse Gear proves that VR games can have strong pillars of gameplay and story that consist of traditional AAA game length.
The gameplay has two control options, the PSVR Aim Controller or the Dualshock 4. I highly recommend playing Farpoint with the Aim Controller, it has smooth tracking, decent weight, and is much more immersive. The gameplay is the basic FPS skeleton with twists to make it stand out. First, there is no traditional HUD, rather everything is communicated by your equipment. Your health is displayed on the character’s wrist, the guns have ammo counters for both primary and secondary ammo, and there is no aiming reticle. This all leads to an uncluttered and immersive experience that sucks you in to the game. The shooting feels great with the ability to make pinpoint shots with the Aim Controller. There are five weapons in the game with the players starting selection of an assault rifle and shotgun. Both of these starting guns have a secondary fire mode, a guided rocket and grenades respectively. The other three weapons are a marksman rifle with a scope that indicates lock-on, a plasma rifle with a pop-up shield secondary function, and the spike launcher, which works similarly to the Needler from Halo, save that the player can manually detonate the spikes with secondary fire. The game only allows you to carry two weapons but doesn’t feel too restricting. The enemy types are also pretty diverse keeping the gameplay fresh. The first types the player will encounter are insect-like monsters that have several different types, from small leapers to a massive mother of the brood. Later types include scanner drones with two variants, bipedal walking robots, and alien soldiers. These types are thrown together and begins to feel like Halo’s enemy sandbox, where units support each other and work to make combat more engaging. As the game progresses the challenge does begin to increase, when the player reaches the end they will feel like they’ve experienced an extraterrestrial war. The gameplay is somewhat focused around forward movement, enemies will never spawn behind you, leapers will always position themselves in front of the player if they do jump past you, and the game is very, very linear. These design choices are made for the sake of accessibility and comfort.
Farpoint provides several options to make the game as comfortable as possible. This includes options to have camera control mapped to the right stick and the blurring options for turning. The options that I used for my playtime were smooth turning on the right stick with no blurring effects, giving the game the most immersive properties. This option setup, however, may not work for everyone, especially those prone to motion sickness. While my stomach got a little queasy I never got sick and while I spent more time playing, my stomach hardened up. No doubt there is an option for anyone who is looking to play the game. Farpoint wants the player to be comfortable the entire time and for the most part they succeed.
Lastly there are a few other modes that add to the game. These are the co-op and versus modes. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to try the co-op but I did get to try the versus mode. The versus mode is kind of an odd duck, it’s not great but there’s also elements that would be interesting to see in future games.The versus mode is a 1v1 where the first player to 10 kills wins. The maps are good sized and contain capture nodes everywhere. These nodes represent units that can be summoned to fight alongside you. Each player can only have a certain number of units at a time. In addition the bigger the unit, the longer it takes to summon as well as consuming more of your unit pool. These units consist of enemies from the campaign, with leapers, burrowers, scanner drones, alien soldiers, and the biped robots being the strongest. Matches quickly become hectic as players and their units clash on the field of battle. But this is where the flaws in the mode begin to show. Farpoint’s guns are highly lethal, so most matches will see players trying to keep optimal distance from each other. The shotgun in particular is devastating as it can decimate others before they can react. The second aspect that causes problems is the weapon unlock system. As you use guns more they gain experience which unlocks new variants. The assault rifle can unlock a multi-rocket variant that does triple damage. In a game that is 1v1 focused this breaks any notion of balance. So new players will probably drop this mode quickly, which is unfortunate with everything it gets right.
Farpoint shows that VR is more than a gimmick, that it can have complete, emotional experiences. Impluse Gear made something that every VR owner should have. This game is the killer app that VR has needed and I know I’ll be keeping an eye on Impluse Gear as they progress. Farpoint shoots for the stars and lands on a hostile world with the player along for the ride. So go ahead, Dr. Tyson and Dr. Moon are waiting for you.