It’s safe to say that games look to many different forms of art for inspiration, and that includes other games. At one point I stepped back from Farpoint and realized that I was shooting the bugs from Starship Troopers with guns right out of Halo, Mass Effect, and Doom, all while watching a side plot that reminded me of The Martian. None of this is inherently bad, but the project can only truly succeed if it can be put together in a unique way. Does Farpoint manage to do that, or does it have nothing new to add to the formula?
Farpoint puts you in the shoes of an unnamed pilot of a space shuttle sent to pick up a pair of scientists who are in a space station researching an anomaly that has the potential to provide unlimited energy. Naturally, things go wrong when it turns out that said anomaly is actually a wormhole which promptly sucks in the station and your shuttle. Lost on an alien hostile planet, you need to meet up with the surviving scientists and try to find a way back home.
Oddly enough, there are two plots running at the same time. You play as the pilot and you’ll be finding holographic recordings of the surviving crew members as you follow in their tracks. These recordings (which play between missions) tells the story of two trapped scientists that try their best to survive on the planet by adapting to its environment, repurposing parts of the crashed station, and singing Del Amitri’s Roll to Me to each other to try and keep sane. They’re two characters I genuinely cared for and I was rather impressed with how well they were both written and acted. It makes the half of the game where you play as some generic silent protagonist shooting his way across the land feel out of place and disconnected to the actual story. It doesn’t help that the game ends on a cliffhanger that doesn’t tie up many plot points.
To get this out of the way now, Farpoint is a full fledged FPS. Unlike many other PSVR shooters, you won’t be tied to one spot and you have free movement of your character. I was surprised by how smooth the movement was, and at no point did I feel motion sick or uncomfortable in any way. The ability to aim faster thanks to motion controls led to some fast paced fights that were surprisingly challenging. The one exception to this was picking up new weapons. The idea is that you’re supposed to place your current weapon on top of the one you’re picking up to swap them, but I found that the action required some super precise placement that I often had difficulty doing.
You’ll advance through levels, exploring the strange planet and fighting off various kinds of enemies as you do so. You start off fighting a Starship Troopers-esque bug alien that ranges from little jumping spiders to giant armored acid spitters. During these segments the game is faster paced and I would spend a good chunk of it moving around to dodge attacks and blast bugs out of the air with my shotgun. Later on, you start to see aliens that take cover and use guns, leading into a completely different style of gameplay more focused on slowing down, sticking to your own cover, and taking shots when openings presented themselves. While I had a preference for the bugs, both combat styles worked quite well.
Over the course of Farpoint, you’ll be getting several weapons. Most weapons pull double duty by having a secondary fire. For example, my assault rifle doubled as a rocket launcher, while my shotgun also fired grenades. There were some unique touches surrounding the guns and how they interacted with the environment. The assault rifle had unlimited ammo and ran off of an overheating gauge, but if you were in an area that was unreasonably hot then it made the assault rifle heat up faster. Little touches like these weren’t too common, but when they showed up they made for some neat tactical consideration.
You’ll need to use every weapon you come across since late game scenarios can get quite difficult. Enemies swarm in large numbers, and the game was constantly finding new ways to challenge me. At times, however, it felt like a bit much. Sometimes I couldn’t actually respond to all of the enemies showing up, and I wished the game presented unique challenges instead of just rushing with more enemies. The best I got was a single boss fight about halfway through the campaign. It was a surprisingly impressive fight that was intense while giving me a new way to use the skills I had acquired. Unfortunately I did not see any more of its kind despite my hopes that more would show up.
There’s not much to do between fights other than advance to the next fight, and there’s no real exploration to be done along the game’s linear path. The best you can get is finding holograms of a few other survivors that allow you to continue advancing the aforementioned side-story. Other than this, you’re just going to be following a line from one fight to the next.
Once you’ve finished the campaign (which clocks in at a disappointingly short six hours), there are a pair of extra modes to keep you occupied. Arcade mode has you replaying levels and trying to finish them under a time limit, killing enemies for points and hitting checkpoints to increase your time. It reminds me of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s arcade mode, and much like that mode it’s an interesting bonus for one run before it falls out of favor. There’s also a two-player co-op horde survival mode that is in a similar spot. I enjoyed a few rounds of surviving with a partner, it didn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the main game beyond that.
Farpoint is also bundled with the PSVR Aim and is the first game to support it. It’s a solid controller that offers up a much better way to feel more immersed in the game. I found it to be comfortable and easy to use, and my only real problem was with an oversensitive left trigger. That said, if you’re not interested in dropping the extra money for the bundle, the game is perfectly playable with a DualShock 4. It’s a little weird since the DualShock doesn’t quite translate well with a two handed gun, but its a valid enough way to go about the game. Still, there’s a reason Farpoint is bundled with the PSVR Aim and that’s because it really is a great controller that I hope more PSVR games take advantage of.
Despite taking a hit on graphical quality thanks to being a VR game, I was still quite impressed with how Farpoint looked. I could easily get lost in some of the more expansive parts of the alien planet, and I did spend some time looking over the fauna in one of the non-barren areas. This is surprisingly good voice acting and facial animations that help sell the drama of the stranded crew members, and the well-made soundtrack helped keep me into the game’s combat sections.
If you ever needed proof that a full-fledged FPS was a possibility with VR… Resident Evil 7 proved that already. However, Farpoint does a fantastic job of really driving that point home. While I doubt it would have been nearly as interesting as it is without VR, and there were some times when I felt the game was borrowing a little too hard from other material, I found that Farpoint had successfully taken many concepts used in normal games and translated them to VR in a way that other games still struggle with. If you have PSVR, Farpoint is well worth owning.
Farpoint was reviewed on PlayStation VR using a copy purchased by the reviewer.
A bit of refinement and more unique situations could have made this a real classic, but Farpoint still succeeds in bringing first person shooters into VR with some fast gameplay and smart use of controls.
- Interesting Story with Great Voice Acting
- Controls Really Well
- Fun, Frantic Firefights
- Looks Pretty, Good Soundtrack
- Story Feels Disconnected From Gameplay
- Lacks Unique Scenarios