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Hands-on: Project Morpheus With EVE: Valkyrie

Posted on Friday, March 21 @ 21:00:58 PST by

"Don't run!"

That's what the GDC volunteers blurted out while I, but one amongst the stampede of bleary-eyed developers who queued up at the show floor doors a full hour before they opened, trampled toward the another line for Project Morpheus. If GDC didn't want us to run, perhaps Sony should not have had a first-come, first-serve line for their new virtual reality headset where only a handful of tickets were being handed out to the most aggressive 300 power walkers. Apparently, GDC didn't get the memo.

Of course, my attempt at dashing through the crowd didn't work. But then I realized I had ninja powers, waved by editor-in-chief media badge, and nabbed an "invitation" to the line (before using a smoke bomb to confuse my enemies). By Friday, I had already heard all of the praise and criticism about the four demos shown for Project Morpheus, of which Sony management decided to rotate only two a day just to make GR writer Blake Peterson queue up four separate times on three separate days. Given this was my only chance at one of the demos, I decided upon CCP's EVE: Valkyrie for the test, as my colleagues claimed it was the cream of the crop. (Blake Peterson will complete a feature outlining his experience with all four demos.)

Most people I've spoken to who have experienced both the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus were split in the middle as to which virtual reality headset was the best, but most had one thing I didn't have - glasses. Whereas the Oculus Rift smushed by glasses into my cranium, applying so much pressure that I thought I would have a nose bleed (and then be slapped by Japanese girls for being a pervert), the Project Morpheus headset had a button that allowed the visor to be pulled in and out. The demonstrator asked me to sit down in a chair, took the visor, adjusted it to my liking while he manipulated the adjustable band along the back of the headset, placed a set of budget headphones over my ears (my Astro A50s cried out for me!), and then plopped the controller in my hand as I couldn't see anything but the launching station in the game.

For those not aware, EVE: Valkyrie pits the player in a futuristic gunship space shooter based on the Eve Online universe and, like an Ace Combat title, asks you to pitch, yaw, lock-on, and fire missilies at any object that turns red in the reticule. Since the ship propels forward naturally, you don't have to worry about holding down a button for the gas. While the left analog stick controls the direction of the ship (inverted or otherwise) and the right trigger fired the machine gun forward, the direction of the headset controls the reticule for the missile lock-on. This might seem like the "vomit, please" simulation, I didn't experience any vertigo due in part to the lack of a ground in the game. Of course, it took a while to become comfortable with the headset, but the discomfort wore off within ten seconds.

Given that EVE: Valkyrie is a multiplayer game, I was playing cooperatively with another person in the booth behind me, but I wouldn't even know it. The demo itself was smooth, the framerate never hiccuped, and there's nothing better than shooting down an enemy ship and flying through the explosion like a boss. In just ten minutes, it changed my mind. EVE: Valkyrie may not be the "killer app" to justify Project Morpheus just yet, but it's definitely one that will convince people that it's not a gimmick.
Tags:   GDC, Project Morpheus, VR

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