Let's start with the exciting part. EVE Valkyrie is going to be a launch title with the Oculus Rift when it launches early next year. All pre-orders of the Rift will include a copy of the game.
"EVE: Valkyrie is one of the most anticipated virtual reality games, and one of the first true VR games to go into development."
"It perfectly captures the promise of immersive gaming, shooting you into a sci-fi adventure as you pilot a spaceship in search of combat." said Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus.
"Battling your friends (and enemies) in multiplayer space dogfights is the ultimate VR thrill, and we're excited to partner with CCP to bring this experience to Rift owners everywhere."
It's a smart launch title, as Valkyrie immediately feels like the Rift's killer app - this is the best space dogfighting game ever made and I feel like the best pilot ever.
The game's lead designer Andrew Williams reveals this is intentional during his briefing to open the hands-on: "We want you to feel like Tom Cruise from Top Gun in space," he says, with a chuckle.
Top Gun in space
That's not an unfair description of how it feels to pirouette Valykrie's fighter pilots through the rubble strewn starfields. The space-capitalism of EVE Online is nowhere to be seen, this is just an arcade blaster making the most of its older sibling's world.
Combat is fast-paced and simple to control. Weapons are aimed by squinting at a target or lining them up with the crosshair on your screen before letting rip.
The right trigger will trigger your ship's cannons, while the left trigger activates a special ability.Classes and abilities
The abilities are different depending on the which of the three classes you go for.
Yhe fighter is analogous to a normal fighter jet and packs missiles, fired off by tracking the enemy with your eyes until the missiles are locked on.
The heavily armoured tank is a slow moving but durable monster but its special ability is a short distance warp ability that feels like a sprint to get you into combat.
The support has a beam that'll tear the shield from enemies or restore the shield to friendlies.
Each of the three ship classes feel fairly unique and I saw a lot of the other press playing well with the support and tank ships, but I struggled to stray far from the fighters - these had the mobility and the firepower, and I had a lot of fun dogfighting colleagues.
It's too early to call on the graphics as this pre-alpha build, I was told, still had some placeholder assets - even if I didn't notice any as I was flying through space as fast as my boosters could take me.
The aesthetic is great though. You can customise the inside of your cockpit, changing the colours, UI, readouts or just tidying it up a bit and tucking all the dirty cables away behind some casing.
In the meantime it's a filthy thing, all grease, wires, and even a frayed leather chair to sit in.
Externally you can spray your ship a few different colours and apply a fancy decal or two if you're that way inclined.
No campaign, but plenty of player versus enemy and player versus player carnage
The modes we played were pretty solid - a team deathmatch where you had to deplete the other team's clone pilots to win, and a domination style game-mode that sees you flying across space and dispatching small AI drones to help capture points.
The entire package feels really smooth at this point - and we also tried one of the PVE missions. This was a single player level that had you playing out a pilot's memories, recovered after their death from genetic material.
Science fiction, eh?
The level itself saw me hammering away at some pirates trying to ambush a convoy and it felt fine, but i think the real draw here is going to be the multiplayer.
CCP think that's the case too, and there'll be no single player campaign, although there are several different PVE modes, including a horde-like survival challenge.
I'm enthusiastic about what I saw today, and curious to see what comes next, but pretty confident this is going to be the first big multiplayer game in Virtual Reality.
Bundling a copy with every pre-ordered Rift will increase adoption rate too, making sure it's picked up at launch.