Eagle Flight Review – Time Keeps on Slipping (PSVR)
Eagle Flight has one of the most memorable opening sequences I’ve ever seen in a video game. The game began in total darkness until a few beams of light started to appear. Before I knew it, I was looking at a bright blue sky and there was a gigantic bird staring at me. Getting to see the first moments of a bird’s life was captivating, and it was made all the more impressive due to the immersion of virtual reality.
The impressive start was just beginning, though, as Eagle Flight is far from the avian equivalent of a one-trick pony. Things got even more amazing as I took flight for the very first time. Ubisoft has done an amazing job making sure that flying feels incredlbe, and this is all due to an excellent use of head tracking.
Simply looking up or down would change my trajectory, and I was able to swoop down low or quickly rise to avoid one of Paris’ exquisite buildings. Naturally, I initially thought to turn that I would look left or right. While that does work, the game actually recommends that players tilt their head instead of actually turning it. This makes sharp turns easier to pull off, and helps reduce neck strain. It’s a genius design choice, and it’s a large reason why I was able to play hours of the game in a single sitting.
There is a bit of a learning curve, as tilting instead of turning isn’t exactly second-nature. It’s not hard to do, but since the game relies on split-second reactions, I often found myself turning my head during the heat of the moment. This led to several crashes since turning isn’t the fastest way, and players should almost always be looking straight ahead if they want to succeed.
I spent my first few moments just flying around the game’s gorgeous interpretation of Paris. Instead of creating a realistic version of the French capital, Ubisoft decided to boil down its key elements and landmarks into a smaller area. The game is much better off due to this since the game looks stunning in motion and doesn’t suffer from trying to look realistic in a low fidelity headset like Driveclub VR did. It also leads to a varied environment as the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Parisian rivers stand out. I was always flying through an interesting locale, instead of boring streets.
One thing that won’t be seen on the streets are humans, as Eagle Flight takes place in a world where nature has reclaimed the land. You won’t find a post-apocalyptic story like in Tokyo Jungle, but it does make the world much more interesting with zebra, bears and elephants roaming the streets. These also tie into the game’s story mode that has the player living life as an eagle.
Split into individual missions, the story mode has players racing through checkpoints to get the fastest time, collecting feathers to build a nest, and catching fish out of the bodies of water around the city. Each mission type is enjoyable due to how much fun the core gameplay is. None of the mission types will wow from a design perspective, but that doesn’t make them any less captivating.
Capture the Prey
After a handful of missions, the game starts to introduce further mechanics. This comes in the form of combat, which honestly feels pretty out of place. In this fantastic video game world, birds are able to physically attack each other by screeching and can create protective shields through some sort of magic. It doesn’t make much sense, but thankfully it does work from a gameplay perspective.
While this does introduce avian enemies to the game’s single-player, these mechanics make up the crux of Eagle Flight‘s multiplayer mode. The competitive mode has two teams of three battling it out in short intervals, attacking each other, and trying to pick up prey that spawns around the world. Simply picking it up isn’t enough to score, though, as players have to take it back to their base in order to score points.
The action is a lot of fun, and fast-paced due to a single shot killing the player. Death isn’t permanent, as it only results in a respawn that happens a few seconds later, but it definitely can be the difference between winning and losing. Things get particularly tense when carrying prey, as I tried to take the most crowded routes I could find, and tried to go through cracked buildings to avoid fire. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but it was always fun.
While I found the combat to be a lot of fun in multiplayer, it’s not as enjoyable in the single-player portion. This is due to Eagle Flight being highly unforgiving. Taking a single bullet was enough to force me to restart a mission, and later levels had me battling dozens of enemies over five-plus minutes.
That is asking a lot from the player, and Eagle Flight starts to feel unfair. Perfection is difficult to achieve when bullets can come from any direction, and I had to attempt some levels repeatedly for well over 30 minutes. It’s a bummer that the game doesn’t have any difficulty settings, as a lot of the initial charm wears off after the 100th time I died.
While its final moments aren’t nearly as strong as it begins, Eagle Flight is still one of PlayStation VR’s best titles. Flying around a stylized Paris is breathtaking throughout, and the sense of speed is always thrilling. Be it in either single-player or multiplayer, this is one VR game worth experiencing.
Review code for Eagle Flight provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.