Also On: Oculus RIft, HTC Vive
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
When I first loaded up Eagle Flight for the PlayStation VR, I really didn't know what to expect. I was under the impression that I would be flying through an open world with little to no substance. What I got, was an interesting take on the flight simulator genre, and it's actually fun.
Right from the start I was met with a giant open area to fly around in. A Post-Human Paris France, only inhabited by animals. Once you get used to all the controls with some quick tutorials and the initial feeling of free flight, the real game begins. All of your movement is controlled by the VR Headset itself. You use the controller to speed up and to slow down to pull off tighter bank turns. It takes a little getting used to and can cause minor neck strain when you have to make a quick movement, but overall, it controls amazingly well. The heart of the game is a disjointed story about a newborn Eagle (You) and the world around you. Completing missions scattered all around this abandoned version of Paris, France. Missions include flying through a set of rings to get better at flight, to collecting feathers to make new nests.
It's not much of a challenge in the beginning, but things ramp up quickly as you learn new skills that will help you in the later missions. My personal favorites were exploring the abandoned subway tunnels, and learning how to catch jumping fish from the river. You are graded on each mission, and getting a perfect score will unlock more stars. The more stars you have will unlock more missions and progress through the slightly interesting, yet somewhat stale story. Things pick up when you learn the "Eagle Screech", a weapon that apparently vaporizes evil Vultures and other enemies that are bent on destroying you. You get into some heated battles while you try to be the last one to survive, and in some escort missions where you protect other birds from predators. It can get crazy, but the game does not penalize you for losing, you just try again until you master the challenge in front of you. If you want to take a break from completing missions, there is a separate Free Flight Mode, where the entire world is open to you. You can go anywhere and explore everything until your heart's content.
Controlling your eagle is nice and fluid. Tilting your head will allow you to make tight turns, and looking up and down will allow you to ascend and descend as you need. Using the triggers on the controller will increase or decrease your speed and let you shoot your Screech weapon. Its relatively easy to master and even someone who has never played a VR game before will understand everything in a snap. The visuals, meanwhile are not as pleasing. While nothing looks terrible, everything has a sort of cartoon-ish look that can take you out of the experience on occasion. A few times I witnessed bad pop-up in the buildings, and broken polygons throughout. Some of the graphics when looked at close up actually resemble a late PS3 game rather than something running on a PS4. However, it has to be noted that this game has been out for other VR systems for quite some time, so it's dated looks are not too surprising.
Online play is the last mode offered in Eagle Flight. You join a team of other Eagles and use your skills against an opposing team to get a rabbit corpse back to your teams nest. It's fun, but the lack of other players online really hurt this mode. If you manage to get a full 3 on 3 match going, the battles can get intense.
Eagle Flight is a good VR game, but it's one of those games that wouldn't work otherwise. It's dated visuals and graphic style could be a turnoff to some, but it's challenge level and easy controls make the overall package enjoyable. The feeling of flight does excite the senses, and while it may not be the best title in the Playstation VR line, it's also not even close to being the worst. Pick this one up, especially if you like dogfight games and flight simulators.