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Why PlayStation VR may be the best platform for Eve: Valkyrie

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Social features and hardware comfort make up for graphical shortcomings

Eve Valkyrie from CCP Games is a first for virtual reality. Not only is the game coming to all three of the major VR platforms — the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR — but it will support cross-platform play. No matter what system you have, you'll be able to play with, or against, your friends on any of the other headsets.

Andrew Willens, the lead game designer on Valkyrie, said that getting the game running well on the PlayStation VR wasn't a huge challenge, although he also joked that the team's technical director may want to shoot him for saying as much.

"It’s not been a huge kind of hurdle of any kind, really," he told Polygon. "Same with all the platforms, the thing has been making sure they can all talk to each other for cross-platform play. But the game is the same on all platforms, and Playstation VR is what it is, it’s another headset. Obviously there’s a certain degree of optimization work that has to happen for the PlayStation 4, but they’re all kick-ass machines, basically."

The PlayStation VR version of the game is an impressive achievement. Valkyrie is a graphically intensive game, and framerate has to be rock-solid for a comfortable VR experience. While it's clear the game doesn't look quite as good on the PlayStation 4 as it does on a high-end gaming PC, you're comparing a console that is sold for $350 with hardware that's around $950 for a minimum-spec Oculus Rift system.

I was able to play a few rounds on the PlayStation VR, and it was a comfortable experience. Valkyrie's framerate never dipped and the game remains as beautiful, if a bit more jagged, than the PC version. Having spent so much time in the retail versions of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, the comfort level of the PlayStation VR hardware is even more striking.

If given the choice of all three systems, I could see myself choosing to play on the PlayStation simply due to the low weight headset and the ease with which you can put it on and take it off, even with glasses. Another advantage the PlayStation VR version has over the Rift version is the PlayStation 4's ability to output the game to the television, full-screen, natively.

The breakout box handles all the heavy lifting, so anyone in the room with you when you play will be able to get a good look at what you're seeing in-game. The Rift version outputs a small window to the desktop while you play, oriented vertically. The PlayStation VR version, in other words, doesn't just benefit from the comfort of Sony's hardware, but the company's focus on the social aspects of VR. It will be an easier version of the game to spectate or stream.

"It gives you the 2D output, basically," Willens said, of the PlayStation VR's breakout box. "PlayStation is really keen on the social screen, they don’t want it to be the headset on, and that’s it."

The fact that you don't have to choose between communities when deciding where to play the game is also a huge plus, much work is going into making sure it's comfortable and fun to play on all three pieces of hardware. The playing field will be level.

"Where my job kind of ends is I make sure the game is the same on all systems, that there’s no unfair advantage for anyone, no platform advantage," Willens explained. "Obviously there are graphical differences, it would be insane to deny that. But the game is the same, the content is the same."

Content that's released for the Rift version of the game will also be released alongside the PlayStation VR version when it's released, and further development on new maps, ships and game modes will be the same for all versions of the game.

"The vision is, in a year’s time when all the headsets are on the market, we’re literally doing content drops for everyone at the same time," Willens said. "That’s the vision, that’s what we’re aiming for. There shouldn’t really be any difference. We’re making a game, it just happens to be on other platforms."