Fantastic gunplay makes this short PlayStation VR shooter feel sweet.
Farpoint is one of the first games developed for PlayStation VR that feels like more than a tech demo, a proof of concept, or a traditional game with VR features slapped on as an afterthought. That works to its advantage, because while it would be a mediocre shooter if you played it on a normal screen, in VR it feels good, especially when you play with the new PlayStation VR Aim Controller.
Like any good VR game, Farpoint makes concessions for the limitations of virtual reality. For example, in story missions enemies only ever come at you from the front, which lets you play the whole game without having to turn around much. By traditional shooter standards it’s boring design, but in Farpoint it helps stave off the motion sickness some people experience in VR and avoids issues with moving outside the bounds of where the PlayStation Camera can detect you or your controller (which can be a DualShock or the gun-shaped Aim). And unlike something like The London Heist or Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Farpoint doesn’t feel like a simplistic shooting gallery because you can move around its environments freely. There’s also a wide variety of foes that behave intelligently in combat, and big levels that encourage you to pop from cover to cover as your enemies gain ground and try to flank you.
If you’re comfortable in VR and want an extra degree of control, you can fiddle with the options and enable using an analog stick to turn left and right. If you can stomach it I strongly recommend choosing the “smooth look” option. That becomes more or less necessary in Farpoint’s challenging co-op missions, but even VR lightweights should be able to handle the campaign.
What makes Farpoint noteworthy is the phenomenal feel of its gunplay.
What makes Farpoint noteworthy is the phenomenal feel of its gunplay. There’s a deeply satisfying rhythm to handling these guns, and you see their intricate moving parts clicking and sliding as you methodically empty their chambers, tap the reload button, and physically tip the Aim Controller up and back toward your shoulder to swap back and forth between your two equipped guns. But the highlight is hefting the surprisingly light Aim Controller (or a DualShock, clumsily) up to your face and closing one eye to line up your weapons’ sights feels intuitive, snappy, and natural – it’s better than any other shooter I’ve played in VR.
The precision rifle and shotgun in particular feel like a match made in heaven, perfectly complementing one another as you snipe distant jetpack-wearing aliens and pull the shotgun out in panic when leaping spiders pop out of the ground in front of you. With a utilitarian rocket-equipped assault rifle and a less useful alien plasma rifle and spike launcher (very much in the vein of Halo’s Needler) rounding out the selection Farpoint could have used more weapon variety, but it nails the basics so well that it’s easy to recommend for that alone.
The story ends so abruptly I was surprised to see the credits.
At around five hours to complete, Farpoint’s story campaign doesn’t overstay its welcome. As you fight to rescue a pair of scientists stranded on an alien world the story takes some predictable turns, mostly conveyed through awkward fixed-perspective cutscenes. Those are well written, but watching a video doesn’t play to VR’s strengths. Then it ends so abruptly I was surprised to see the credits start rolling.
Farpoint also feels unfinished in other, stranger ways, like in its poorly thought-out menu interface. If you select the first mission the opening cutscene doesn’t play, and if you select the cutscene directly it simply plays all the cinematics in order and skips all the gameplay sections. To play the full game again from the beginning – if, for example, you want to show Farpoint off to a friend – you have to select the opening cutscene, watch it, then quit back to the menu and select the first mission, waiting through multiple lengthy loads.
That can be chalked up to clumsy interface design, but other issues popped up that definitely weren’t done on purpose: at one point I had to close the game due to a reoccurring bug that made my whole view go totally black, and when I opened it back up I’d been sent back several checkpoints, like it hadn’t saved. Yet I was stuck equipped with the spike launcher I’d picked up later in the level, which was terribly ill-suited to the sniper-filled canyon I had to fight through first. With literally no way to simply restart the entire level, it was a huge pain to catch up to where I’d been.
Farpoint’s campaign will feel short because it is; that said, holding a plastic gun at attention for hours on end is just as tiring as you’d expect, so it’s not something most people can sit and play all day. However, a handful of bonus modes, including two-player online co-op missions and scored arcade-style challenge levels complete with leaderboards, keep things interesting even after you’ve wrapped up the main missions.
The co-op missions are unique and challenging, with multiple difficulty levels and successive waves of enemies that will keep you on your toes even with a partner. There are hectic moments when one player dies, and the other has to scramble to either get the revive or finish the encounter solo, creating some intense fight-or-flight sensations. And you can even entertain yourself in the main menu by walking around a unique space station environment, turning the various gun models around in your hands to peer at their every little detail, and flinging tchotchkes into a distant porthole for points.