Star Wars Battlefront is one of the best supported games this generation. It has received 4 DLC packs that have seen an upward trend in quality – from classic characters, weapons and locations to the harsh desert world of Jakku and even the surface of Scarif.
They have saved the best piece of DLC to last though, with X-Wing VR Mission which is truly jaw dropping. More than this, and I say this without hyperbole, it is one of the best gaming experiences of my life. There are not many experiences available today, on any platform, that can compare to the thrill of piloting your X-Wing into hyperspace then pulling out and dogfighting TIE fighters and Star Destroyers in an asteroid field. It is stunning and FREE!
Criterion have created a technological showcase here; they have shown every other developer exactly what the PSVR can do. On top of this they have proved that VR can improve minute to minute gameplay in existing genres. It may be a short experience but the smile on my face remained for a much longer duration.
The mission begins in a white hangar, you can teleport around your X-Wing and examine it from every angle – what, in writing, sounds like a waste of time is actually an incredible showcase for the frostbite engine and is vital at making the X-Wing feel like yours. The texture work here is unbelievable; the X-Wing shows signs of use from battle scars to re-entry burns, everything is visible and tells a story to the player. On top of the textures you’ll undoubtedly notice the high resolution too, all these things were “impossible on PSVR”; nonsense!
Once you step inside the cockpit the quality of modelling and rendering is maintained. It is amazing just to be sat inside an X-Wing and look around at the fine detail; you’ll undoubtedly notice things you never have before like the exposed wiring that runs along the top of the window over the pilot’s right shoulder. It is an incredible experience – one that many of us have dreamt about since we first watched Episode IV.
Thankfully this level of awe and technical ability runs right through the mission. The resolution never drops and as a result this is the best looking game on PSVR; you’ll see tiny details in absolutely everything on the other side of your windscreens – it makes dog fighting incredibly natural when your view is unobscured by low resolution. As a result of all this visual fidelity it is impossible not to experience presence – you’ll truly feel as though you are flying a mission in outer space – fantastic stuff!
The sound design is unbelievably good too; everything that makes Star Wars is here, the crescendo building music in the heat of battle, the impeccably timed hit of the main theme and all the ambient and laser sounds you’ve loved since childhood are all here. The visuals and audio together create an atmosphere that’s so authentic to the source material it actually outdoes the prequel trilogy.
Gameplay wise it’s as good as you’d hope – the flight controls that felt weird in the base game feels weighty and natural. The X-Wings have a weight in their movement and it feels amazing. The dog fighting is as intense as it is exciting; the TIE fighters clearly have superior speed and manoeuvrability than your X-Wing but because of the incredible graphics and stereoscopic 3D you’ll instinctively know how and when to move in order to get the upper hand.
The pacing of the mission is also brilliantly handled; it starts very slowly and builds until the odds are firmly stacked against you. It acclimatises you to the action and teaches you exactly what your craft can and cannot do – this tutorial is incredibly organic and incredibly effective at achieving its goal. The final set piece is a piece of art and your heart will be in your mouth the entire time; without ruining it, it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a child and as wish fulfilment as well as a game it was a great success.
While this review may sound like the thoughts of a rabid Star Wars fanboy – I can assure you that it is not. This mission, on a technical as well as a fun level is as good as anything else you’ll play on PS4. X-Wing VR is an amazing advertisement for the PSVR and its potential as a traditional gaming platform. While it cannot be argued that Star Wars fans will receive the most out of this mission – everyone will be able to appreciate what it offers; I cannot envisage anyone being disappointed by this.
Although it is incredibly short (there are however, high score tables so you can compete with friends); ‘Resident Evil VII’ aside this is the best game to play on your PSVR!
I hope they make a full game out of this because that would be something quite brilliant!