Placing you on a dusty brown planet, Farpoint quickly establishes itself within a fascinating world that’s only amplified by the addition of PlayStation VR. But like every intrepid trip across the galaxy, there’s not a welcome mat and some champagne for your arrival. Instead, Farpoint tosses aside any real interesting sci-fi questions it has and brushes them underneath a rug of rote, boring shooting that’s only made serviceable thanks to a brand new controller.
Farpoint is one of the marquee titles that Sony have been advertising PSVR with, and it’s apparent early on the there’s more genuine effort thrown into the whole experience from the start. You play as a third-wheel of sorts, following two scientists on a journey through a wormhole and onto a distant planet. It’s filled with fascinating flora and fauna, an ominous purple volcano that’s always within view and a race of flesh-hungry arachnids ready to chew your face off. Good thing that escape pod came stocked with an assault rifle then.
Having crash landed onto the planet moments after your budding scientists, Farpoint initial starts off slow. You’ll use a scan ability on your rifle to playback visual logs of past experiences, giving you some insight into just what might have happened before you touched down. What initial starts as a rescue mission actually evolves into a survival story with some eyebrow raising sci-fi tropes that both work for and against the overall plot. It’s better than what most VR games are offering at this point, but it’s still miles from the cinematic storytelling that you might want from a first-party title.
That being said, it would be criminal to not at least appreciate some of the performance. Motion capture just seems far more real when being viewed up close and personal, and Farpoint is an txceptional example of this done right. More quiet and personal moments are truly brought alive by he feeling of actually being there. These moments bring with them interesting dialogue too. The slow descent from bewilderment to sheer panic that your lost crew members find themselves tumbling down is pretty raw, even if the underpinning story fails to truly leverage it properly.
Outside of this, Farpoint masquerades as something that thinks it’s more than a gallery shooter, which is true to an extent. You can play the game with either a DualShock 4 or the new Aim Controller, with the game heavily leaning on the latter. The Aim Controller as a piece of hardware is actually pretty good. It doesn’t require an existing Move controller, instead acting as an entirely standalone product using the same technology. It’s got two analogue sticks, every standard button you’d expect to find on a regular controller and an intuitive layout that makes it comfortable and natural to use.
Even if it’s still using the same sort of motion tracking as the standard Move controllers, the Aim feels far more tuned to the experience. The game defaults to a control scheme that has you moving and strafing with one stick, while controlling your camera with actual head motion. It feels a little on rails, but surprisingly ended up being the most comfortable mode of the three on offer. Another allows you to turn in segments (like Resident Evil 7), while the third gives you full twin-stick motion like a standard first-person shooter. And yes, it still makes you horribly ill.
Farpoint wants you to stick with what it gives you though, and that’s pretty apparent from the way its shooting is designed. Smaller enemies will lunge at your face (which is terrifying if you’re afraid of spiders), but scurry back in front of you if they happen to land behind you. Others will lob balls of acid in the air as slow moving targets for you to shoot down, with another presents a more direct challenge by charging at your with weight and ferocity.
It starts out feeling fresh – the scare factor and sense of discovery hiding the fact that you’re playing a very expensive light gun game. But quickly the facade fades. Enemies are easy to predict and offer up little challenge, while the few set-piece fights artificially create difficulty by just throwing countless enemies at you. There’s fun in using Farpoint’s different guns and actually feeling like you have some control over your movement, but the game itself never truly uses this to its advantage. It’s just so boring at times, to the point where even using weapon scopes and correct shooting stances just felt like a chore.
And even if Farpoint nails the actual feeling of holding a rifle, shotgun or alien weaponry in VR, it feels incredibly unpolished in other departments. Saves, for example are reserved for the end of chapters, which can stretch to well over 45 minutes each. There are checkpoints if you die, but they don’t stick should you choose to quit the game. An issue only exasperated by the frequent bugs I encountered, forcing me to exit entirely and lose whole chunks of progress.
Loading times are also extremely long, especially when first trying to hop back into the action. Menus and UI element, in general, feel incredibly out-dated too, adding a real budget feel to what is an otherwise impressive technological achievement for VR. Farpoint looks spectacular at times, and really encourages you to take in the sights of its setting. Tip-toeing around steep cliff faces or exploring neon light caverns with strange plat life ranks among some of the game’s highest points. Even if they’re as fleeting as the short campaign.
Outside of that, Farpoint offers two modes to try and extend your stay. You can tackle shooting challenges with a friend online (if they also happen to own a VR headset), or take part in arcade like trials that further test your shooting dexterity. We couldn’t test the former, but the latter offers up some brief fun outside of the heavier campaign. If only for a brief period of time.
Farpoint itself is just too disappointing for something Sony really was driving as one of the reasons to own PSVR. It’s surprising that its biggest achievement almost has nothing to do with the game at all. The Aim Controller that comes bundled with the game is the real winner here, and I’m hoping more game start utilising it. Farpoint uses it to great effect to create a solid shooting experience mechanically, so it’s a shame that it just struggles to hold the weight of an otherwise lacklustre game
Last Updated: May 25, 2017