EVE Valkyrie – A Bammsters Introduction

On a dark, cold winter’s night on Iceland (it is always dark, cold and winter in Iceland), a bunch of CCP Games employees looked at their Rift Oculus dev-kits, and decided to make their own game; Perhaps it was because of there being no actual games released for the also-not-released Oculus, perhaps it was because it was an actual DEV kit, but they grabbed a pile of EVE Online artefacts, a Unity game-engine and spent their private time putting together something something called EVE:VR.

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Fanfest 2013 came and went, as EVE:VR was shown to the fangirling masses, and later an actual product was announced: EVE Valkyrie!

Fast forward through another Fanfest, E3, GDC and lots of other events, a new Dev Kit (DK2), and here we all are, sitting, waiting anxiously for news of a game we all know will revolutionize Space Combat Sims!

But while we’ve definitely joined in the squealing, let us cast a look at EVE Valkyrie, what we know so far, the competition, the setting and why we’re as excited as a tornado in a trailer park.

 

The Setting

The first thing that comes up when mentioning EVE Valkyrie, at least for us, is not the ca 440 grams of plastic and electronics people are wanting to strap to their face. No, it is the setting: New Eden! The universe that holds over a decade of grand stories, written in sweat and worn-out keyboards by the players of EVE Online.

1478396-dirk_starbuck

Starbuck – Battlestar Galactica

The creators of EVE Online, EVE Valkyrie, DUST514, EVE Legion and, uhm, Hættuspil, CCP Games, have come out and said that there will, initially, be no game-play link between EVE Valkyrie and EVE Online. Valkyrie will effectively be its own game, set in the same settings as EVE Online, but otherwise isolated. A later connection between it, and the larger EVE universe has not been ruled out, which leave us with the same hope that led many an FPS player to join DUST514; the hope that one day a Valkyrie fighter-pilot could topple an EVE corporation and blow up their flagship!

Another exciting thing in the setting of Valkyrie, was the introduction of Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck as Rán Kavik, stalwart leader of the Valkyrie pilots. Rán will be the player’s link to the universe, and present during gameplay as providing comments during combat.

 

The VR

The main talking point for most, in relation to Valkyrie, is the use of Virtual Reality, in the form of Facebook’s Oculus Rift goggles. Developed specifically for use in a VR setting, Valkyrie developers have been able eschew designs and gameplay options for non-VR platforms and focus on the purity of their VR-centric game.

While this have several advantage in relation to immersion and usability, there has also been hurdles, such as having to reinvent the User Interface and adjust how elements are presented.

Bammsters have not yet had the chance to try out Valkyrie, but the immersion of the game and the VR is said to be exceptionally well done, with the developers in CCP’s Newcastle office having taken steps to include visual clues to tie the player into the virtual world, such as the simple ability to view your own legs. Naturally, your legs and hands ingame will not reflect your movement outside of the game, though perhaps the fans could convince CCP to also include support for e.g. Leap Motion?

Valkyrie will be VR-only, at least for the initial release. It’s simply too much work to design two version of a HUD and redesign features to support non-VR.
CCP Karuck, May 2014, Valkyrie forums

To the excited would-be players, one of the biggest issues with the VR-first approach has been that the game will not be released until there is a compatible VR platform out in general availability. Current expectations for Morpheus and Rift are for 2015, with Valkyrie release on either platform being synchronized with the hardware. Later updates may bring non-VR options to the table, at least to lower the bar of entry into the game.

 

The Platform

Image via EVEValkyrie.org

Image vigorously borrowed from EVEValkyrie.org

Outside of Oculus Rift, support for Sony Playstation’s Project Morpheus has been announced, though reports from gaming-news sites point to demos on Project Morpheus have so far been done using PCs instead of PS4s. Just as Microsoft has not yet announced a VR kit for the XBox line of consoles, there has been no indicators that the Valkyrie developers are even looking in Microsoft’s direction. Reflecting back to the stories about whether to get DUST514 on XBox, it also seems unlikely that Valkyrie would even be allowed there, if CCP intends for there to be cross-platform gameplay.

Oculus Rift has been stated as the exclusive platform for Valkyrie on PC through a co-publishing deal, and with Project Morpheus at least covering part of the console-space, it seems the hardware platforms has been laid out. Android support has not been addressed, but an unofficial comment from one of the Valkyrie developers pointed out that they would not look at anything that was not absolutely capable; perhaps that excludes things like the “Powered by Oculus” Gear VR by Samsung, though we wouldn’t mind having fewer wires around our necks.

On the software-side, we only really know that Valkyrie will use Unreal Engine 4 and support PS4 and PC. While the Oculus Rift and Unreal Engine 4 both support not only Windows and PS4, but also Mac OSX and Linux, we have not seen any news about Valkyrie also releasing on these.

We know that a Mac OSX version of EVE Online exists, though this is in the form of a half-arsed “wineskinned” emulation, created with Transgaming, an approach no-one really wants for Valkyrie.

 

The Gameplay

Valkyrie is often spoken about in the same sentences as Elite: Dangerous, Star Citizen and other Space Sim games, but differs in a very significant way: It is a pure Dogfighting Sim, putting it perhaps closer to War Thunder and its ilk. Where the other games allow players to make a name for themselves by roaming around in space, mining asteroids, and do other sandbox-spacey things, Valkyrie seems to be focused on Arena-style dogfights, in limited instances.

Players start out in a launch-tube of a larger ship, and are then catapulted into combat, where they will stay until victory, or destruction! So far we have only seen the Wraith fighter-plane in the material from CCP, but a Support ship and a Heavy ship are also on their way; so far this seems to match the Assault, Logistics and Heavy classes from DUST514, though details from CCP on the 2 latter ships are still under wraps.

The game will present players with Ranking, Experience and Reputation, and though there is mentions of “highly dangerous yet lucrative missions”, Ranking and Reputation are not clarified. We would assume that Experience refers to a New Eden-style Skill Point system, which seem supported by the ability to unlock more advanced ships and gear, but that is still be confirmed.

Racial Parity, or having ships and gear from the 4 main New Eden races, doesn’t seem to be a topic in the material we’ve seen so far, possibly because Valkyrie pilots are described as all belonging to “the infamous Guristas pirate organization”. We know there are plans for customized fittings, and even Decals, but nothing on whether we will see the same cycle of acquisition and loss as in EVE Online and DUST514.

 

Wrap-up

Since the reveal of “EVR”, fans and media alike have been waiting for news, and following as CCP have released information and showed their progress at conferences. We’re still some time away from the actual release, and will continue to see where this is heading.

Stay with us, as we move towards the actual release of EVE:Valkyrie.