Eagle Flight, the VR title from Ubisoft Montreal, will be one of the best showcase of virtual reality when it launches this fall. The PlayStation VR game will also be coming to the PC with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but I had the chance to try it on the PS VR during my time at the Tokyo Game Show, and it was a beautiful experience.
Eagle Flight is set in a vibrant, almost cel-shaded, Paris 50 years after the extinction of humans, where wildlife have the remains of the city to themselves. And I think it will do what Kinect Sports or NintendoLand did for their respective platforms – a technology showcase of what VR can do, or in this case, PlayStation VR.
It’s an eminently simple concept that demonstrates the core pillars of VR. It still uses a controller, but only the triggers to control speeding up and slowing down. Moving your head and looking around the world controls navigation. Glancing left or right slowly shifts your trajectory, while a sharp turn requires your head to quickly jolt in either direction, almost touching your ear to your shoulder. The same technique controls ascending and suddenly rushing towards the ground at blistering speed can give a great sense of vertigo.
Having grasped the intricacies of maneuvering between buildings and trees using nothing but head-tracking, Eagle Flight is confident in the precision of its controls. In the speed-run demo that I played on, success demanded flying tight through rings in a designated route through gorgeous Parisian buildings, weaving between the ancient architecture and avoiding trees and perilous obstacles. It’s a staple of flight gameplay, but I’m sure you have never experienced it quite like this.
There are also other game modes available, including a single-player campaign as well as versus modes (there’s a capture the flag, I learned) but I never got to try them during my limited time at the session.
Eagle Flight is one of the more impressive VR title that’s build from the ground up, and is an excellent title for PlayStation (and other VR technologies) to showcase their VR platform. PlayStation has promised an incredible 50 titles that will be available during the launch period – not to be mistaken for launch date. It’s not 50 brand new games, however, but 50 VR experiences of existing franchises like Batman Arkham VR and the X-Wing Mission in Star Wars Battlefront. While these provide early PS VR adopters additional content to play on their headsets, without needed to buy full-priced games, it will be games like Eagle Flight that will push the boundary of virtual reality and give the technology the kind of exclusives it need thrive in the long run.