Developer: Impulse Gear
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £24.99 ($19.99)
Nausea: Some/Dependent on VR Experience
Controllers: DS4 or Aim Controller
Game Length: 6 Hour Campaign & Online PVP/CO-OP Multiplayer
PS4 PRO Enhanced
Strap on your headset and step into an action-packed sci-fi adventure full of beautiful alien vistas, an intriguing story and a vicious array of indigenous life. Fourteen months after release, does it still hold up?
Farpoint was originally released back in May 2017 but at the time I was unable to obtain an Aim Controller. Having done so with the release of Firewall: Zero Hour I feel I’m now able to play the game the way it was intended and can review it fairly. Since release, they’ve added two free DLC packs with plenty of content including online PvP, player progression and unlockables.
Farpoint provides an explosive beginning that shifts swiftly in tone to one considerably more ominous and foreboding. Crash-landing among piles of firey debris and exploding shrapnel, you set out cautiously to explore this strange and dangerous new world. It isn’t long before the mood and pace revert to fierce action except now you’re in control and faced with a swarm of alien nasties, equipped with nothing but a rifle and your aim.
This consistent shift in pace between quick-fire gunplay and slower moments of exploration and narrative development could be extremely tedious if not for VR. In traditional games I’m often – but not always – irritated by constant gameplay interruptions. Be it cutscenes or long dialogue exchanges, I lose concentration and my mind wanders. That is not the case here. The action segments can be so intensely exhilarating that the slower moments are a welcome respite and provide time to calm down. It’s also hard to get distracted when you’re strapped into a headset.
I found myself genuinely drawn into the story but felt it took some cliched turns around the mid-way point. Maybe I’ve just consumed so many science fiction stories over the decades but it’ll still intrigue those not so au fait with the genre. I was pleased with the ending and the epic build-up that preceded it and would readily welcome a sequel.
The action segments play out pretty similarly the entire way through but are kept interesting through increasing varieties of enemies, weapons and magnificent landscapes. Landscapes that subtly transform as you progress; from dead and rocky terrain, not unlike Tatooine, to dark and winding caves full of luminescent life reminiscent of the flora found in Avatar. Farpoint offers little in the way of totally unique setpieces but – via VR – gives an unprecedented sense of scale and scope.
When I picked up the game at launch I played for a few hours with the DS4 and enjoyable as it was I felt I was getting a subpar experience. Farpoint was meant to be played with the Aim Controller. The Aim controls are intuitive, the tracking is on point and using it adds a significant amount of depth to the experience. Look down, see your weapon and rotate it any way you please. Having the tactile sensation of feeling a gun – or at least a gun-shaped piece of (well-crafted) plastic – immerses you in the gunplay far more than you’d expect. Having to hold the gun close to your chest and visor in order to squint down a virtual scope is a feeling of FPS immersion unmatched on PSVR – except now for Firewall: Zero Hour. As with Firewall, I’ve experienced very few issues with Aim tracking, all of which were solved with a quick shake of the controller.
I was fully immersed in the alien world of Farpoint. Each new area induced a sense of child-like awe. Named after the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, ‘Encounter at Farpoint,’ I truly felt as if I were living a Starfleet away-mission gone terribly wrong. I could almost feel the harsh sandy winds of the crash site. Vast plumes of volcanic ash and gas spewed from a massive volcano on the horizon. The oppressive shroud of grey and blacks covered half the sky; I was afraid it would erupt at any moment. I’d completely forgotten I wasn’t actually there. One moment I was a Starfleet Ensign scanning a mysterious object for data, the next I was Ellen Ripley – blasting anything that moved to fleshy smithereens.
The sound effects and music complement the game well – perhaps a little too well in the story’s eerie beginnings. The alien creatures create some horrendous noises – even when they’re dead. The guns sound great as does the sound of an exploding bug or two. The orchestral soundtrack shifts in mood to suit the tone of gameplay exceedingly well and lends to a fantastic virtual atmosphere all round.
Impulse Gear has released two free DLC packs since launch. The first, Cryo, included two brand new co-operative maps with an ice-cold Hoth vibe and the ability to play those and all previous maps in the single-player Challenge mode. The second pack, Versus, saw the developers introduce two PvP modes (Deathmatch and Uplink) as well as a plethora of unlockable weapons and player skins. Though I have managed to successfully complete a handful of online cooperative missions – which were great fun – I have yet to find enough players for a PvP match. This is a shame as the content Impulse Gear has provided – for free – deserves to be played.
If you can’t find anyone to play with online you can level up your character and weapons – as well as unlock new weapon variants and skins – in the addictive and highly repeatable Challenge mode. Throw in local and online leaderboards and there is more than enough content to keep you coming back for months – if not years. It might only be for a few rounds at a time but Farpoint is definitely a title I’ll find myself returning to every now and then.
Fourteen months after release does Farpoint still hold up? Absolutely.