Test Flight: Valkyrie

Plus one.

So I went to Fanfest.  On the last day, I was beat.  Many miles walked, many bottles emptied.  We were at the Harpa and I was hanging with the boys in the PvP room farming pirate newb ships and I realized that the New Player Experience Roundtable was in progress, so I left the gang and roamed down to the session.

It was packed.  Crap.  I was in no condition to squeeze into the hot box, so I started to head back to meet up with the fleet, but they jumped in system.

They came down for Eve Valkyrie.

The line was short but I was in no mood for lines, and I am not really into first person shooters or flight simulators, so I sat down to wait for them.

You know, if you don’t try this out, someone is going to ask you about it and you’re going to be pissed that you didn’t at least try it.

Yeah, yeah.  So I got in line.  I hate lines.

When we finally got to the front, the Valkyrie Dev gave us a brief of the controls and told us to enjoy the flight, don’t break anything, and please remember to move your head or you will not get the full effect of the VR experience.  He pointed out one woman, facing straight ahead, moving only her fingers as she flew.

Don’t fly like her, he said.

I get to my seat and the pretty lady helps me fit my visor and my headset.  Looks okay.  I syncronize the unit to the sensor four feet in front of me.

I look left.  Cool.  I look right. Cool.  I look up and down.  I seem to be in a cockpit.  This is alright, I guess.  I lean forward.

Holy crap, I really am in a cockpit!

We launch.  I feel like I am in my Viper being catapulted off the Galactica.  I look to my left and watch the beams in the tube flash by.  Then I am in space and heading toward some asteroids.  I hit the booster and the ship shoots forward.

I’m looking.  I’m looking in all directions.  I head for the asteroids and structures and try to thread a needle.  I’m boosting, not continuously, but frequently.  I’m just cruising for a minute or so.  Just flying, checking out how the ship responds.  Seems to me it should be more responsive for a fighter.

Then my displays light up and an alert tone beeps. Someone is locking me.  I go to afterburner and start looking around for the bad guys.  I don’t see them.  Under boost, I make a turn to port and I am looking up over my left shoulder to see where this guy is.

I’m still turning but the ship isn’t turning fast enough.  Wait a sec, didn’t they say there was a brake?  I look down at the controller.

There is no controller.

This is VR, Bren.

Okay, okay.  This isn’t my first freaking rodeo.  The brake is the square, the square is here.  I tap it and the ship turns hard to port.  I release and hit afterburner again.

Let’s see some of that pilot shit, Bren.

I think I spot him.  I hit the brake and throw the ship to starboard.  My head snaps around to the right and I turn the ship around right to face my adversary.

Bandit at 2 o’clock high! 

Guns?  Guns?  Triggers!  I pull the right trigger and my target lock aid pops up on the HUD.  I track the target with my eyes from right to left across the screen.  Like riding a motorcycle, my hands follow my head and the ship turns left moving me behind him.  I get a lock, release the trigger and a missile salvo rips from the ship.

Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh, Swoosh.

But someone else is still on me and stuff in the cockpit is flashing red, alert tones beeping continuously.  I go evasive, snapping the ship around.  I turn left, brake and pull up, always looking for my guy, but it’s too late.  My ship explodes.  I cry out.

Whoooh!

And I am launching again.  This time I think I know what I am doing.  I’m back in the game and looking for a bandit to splash.  I shoot at one guy, break off and go for another.   I am enjoying the hell out of this thing when it all comes to an end.

The pretty lady takes off my headphones and I take the visor off.  There are three guys sitting in front of me with the biggest freaking grins on their faces.

This is freaking awesome, I excitedly tell them, Don’t forget to move your head!

Hell, yeah, they yell back!

I get up.  Grab my stuff.  I’m pumped.    I want one.  Now.

Best Demo Ever.   No doubt, the best five minutes I’ve spent playing any flight sim.

And I’m pretty sure that the Valkyrie Dev told the next group, Make sure you fly like that guy.

I wouldn’t be surprised.

Minus one.