Eagle Flight Review
Ubisoft’s first stab at VR is a strange game. I don’t mean that to be a slur, because VR as a genre is itself full of oddities and curios, but often just tacked on modes that force VR into a game that wasn’t designed for it, and doesn’t really need it – at best offering an alternative way to play it, and at worst leaving you confused as to how it got made at all. Thankfully Eagle Flight has been designed as a VR game, and it’s a good one, at that.
Simplicity is key, and most of the actual playing is done via head-tracking, which is smart and enables Ubi to put the game on all VR platforms. You are an eagle, and you move by looking where you want to go, tilting your head to turn, holding the triggers to speed up (RT) or slow down (LT), and attacking or defending with the face buttons. It’s something almost anyone can enjoy, and it’s fun in short bursts, which is good, since the campaign isn’t that long anyway.
Missions vary on the face of it, but most involve either going through rings, attacking things, or flying. Whether you’re racing underneath the tunnels of Paris to try and get three stars in a time trial, or catching fish from the river to impress your new friend, it all plays out similarly. Due to the nature of these missions, you can quickly restart should you fly directly into a wall, which is always a must in this kind of game.
The aiming is also based on head tracking, and to fire you often have to aim where something is going (like a scummy vulture, attacking your pal as is the case early on), rather than where it currently is, because, you know, you’re in flight. It’s satisfying but slightly fiddly as you have to not only aim at enemies, but also steer yourself through obstacles. As you progress, the missions get harder, and even the medium tunnel time trials have alternate routes that up the difficulty on the fly: it’s challenging, but not overly so, while offering a path for people who just want to get through it easily.
Impressively, it all looks lovely. Bright and colourful, this is a Paris that’s been taken back by nature, and giraffes and elephants can often be seen below you, as can flamingos and, well, you get the point: there are lots of animals and it’s pretty. As night falls it gives way to a more mellow look, almost the kind you’d see on a postcard, with a couple sitting outside a cafe quaffing an expensive meal on the Parisian streets. I had a few very minor frame-rate hiccups, but that’s almost certainly my machine and not the game, but there was no motion sickness (on Oculus Rift, that is) whatsoever, and the entire game is a smooth experience.
What is a shame, though, is that clearly the pickup rate for the game isn’t high. I would love to tell you about the multiplayer – a three on three competitive affair – but I simply couldn’t find a single game. The leaderboard for campaign missions suggests not a lot of people are playing them, and when you’re hitting the top 5 in a league (there are leagues you can, it seems, progress through), or are seeing only three people ranked on a challenge, that’s an issue.
Elsewhere, there are collectibles in the form of feathers (of course there are), and you can roam about to your heart’s content – it’s all fairly standard Ubisoft, really. But I like Eagle Flight. It’s interesting (even if the English chap reading out the story info misses the mark a little), uses VR well and is inclusive for all skillsets. It’s not something I’ll remember for the rest of my life, nor is it completely throwaway; it’s just a good, well made game.
Fun in short bursts
Player base isn't there