I'm going to start this article by taking you on a journey back in time: It's April 30 2014 and I'm in Reykjavík, Iceland attending Fanfest, my first in the 11 years I've been a part of New Eden. EVE: Valkyrie is being presented as a keynote and I was impressed.
Oculus Rift consoles were setup for attendees to get on and have a go but, as expected, traffic control was in operation (just like that annoying message that appears when you used to try to get into Jita,) and there wasn't a chance I was getting a look in unless I wanted to miss one of the sessions that were going on. Being my first Fanfest I'd booked my schedule pretty tight so unless I ganked someone in the queue Valkyrie and I were not going to become acquainted. I wasn't too disappointed, sure it was impressive but it wasn't "my EVE" until I saw the #t=2880">video Katee Sackhoff made for us. Yes, it was made for us, the 2014 attendees and she called us out, unbelievable!
So now I wanted to know what made her say "Holy F*ck!" and I wanted to feel what she felt.
Fast forward to February 20 2016 and Nottingham #EVE_NT 4. I should've read the programme, had a bit of a clue about events going on especially since I write for EVE_NT Media but I get by on a rough idea and so that's how I rolled for this weekend. I'd been a bit of a latecomer only getting my ticket on 01/01/2016 but this wasn't my first #EVE_NT so I knew where it was and the kind of format...or so I thought.
It's 0855hrs and the bitter cold of an English winter finds me camping the doors of the #EVE_NT venue, Antenna Media Centre. I'm first in the queue (pics or it didn't happen? It did:
I think I've only got to wait one hour for the doors to open. Being first isn't just pure madness, if you were in the first one hundred people in you got free stuff and who doesn't like free stuff? A few more bods (two to be precise) who're working the event appear and join my gate camp. We get chatting and it becomes clear to me the doors open at 1100, that's two more freaking hours in the bitter cold on only 3 hours sleep (yeah, I hit the pub crawl hard). Nashh hotdrops us from a side entrance and shows us into the centre where hot coffee and bacon butties await (I knew writing for #EVE_NT Media was a wise choice).
We're given the backstage tour taking in the #EVE_NT.tv interview set
As we got upstairs I not only see EVE: Valkyrie banners but I see three, yeah that's right THREE Oculus Rift setups running EVE: Valkyrie, all ready and raring to go for #EVE_NT attendees. To cap it all off CCP Redcape, EVE Valkyrie Community Developer based in Newcastle, England is on hand to take rookie Valkyries through one of the new levels. CCP Tara, French Linguistic Owner, and CCP Lebowski, Quality Assurance Analyst, (who I idiotically asked "Who do you fly with?" after meeting him in Rock City at about 1am on Saturday morning!) are also throwing there skills in to help Valkyries ease into the new Alpha release. I'm thinking "Gonna have to get in early to get on this with 200 people in here" and I start to plot.
Nashh pipes up and before I know it I'm sat in the chair before the doors even open, CCP Redcape is lowering an Oculus Rift headset onto my head and taking me through my new reality that is Valkyrie. I think the first words out of my mouth as I looked around were "Wow!" and then I chuckled like a kid at Christmas! I wasn't even in a fighter, I was in the clone bay of the Valkyrie "carrier"!
CCP Redcape took me through the controls and warned me to go easy in there, give your body and mind time to become accustomed to the new reality. And I didn't. The Convoy Mission includes time at the start for you to get used to the setup, the controls and get to grips with Valkyrie. I had it licked or so I thought and then BAM! I've got Katee Sackhoff calling out hostiles and I'm engaging! I'm dog fighting like Maverick but looking waaaaaaay cooler and, I'll admit a little over-cocky, I boosted into a stomach churning right bank and descending cork-screw. "Not cool" said my brain, "Not cool at all dude!" was my stomachs reaction and I felt it prudent to stop that before I possibly threw up (honestly it had nothing to do with the drink the night before). Incoming fire snaps me back and I'm back into the fight with a vengeance if only a little less cocky. As I turn into a popsicle in my cockpit I relish in the fact I took out at least two hostiles and seriously messed with a few more!
CCP Redcape took me through the "cooldown" and I heeded her wise words to let your body readjust to the real world. To be honest, I just wanted to get right back in that pilots chair and fly another mission!
All throughout the day I was popping up to the Valkyrie room and checking out the queue:
And then, once all the first-to-have-a-go people were through it was finally my time to be a Valkyrie again. This time, it was different, it was personal and it was the new Alpha build! CCP Tara took me through my pre-flight and then it was time to get busy. I powered straight into the fight and lasted a decent amount of time while throwing my heart, and body it seems, into the fight. To me, in that reality it was do or die:
Thanks to General Stargazer for the "pics or it didn't happen" evidence. Also, great "Gun show" shot!
I literally nearly sustained serious injury in this fight as per the comment of "We though you were going to fall backwards out of the chair at one point." but due to my flexible and athletic physique (ha ha it was more to do with my feet being my anchor!) I didn't injure myself.
This was my initial reaction to playing the Alpha of EVE: Valkyrie:
Let me try and sum up how real Valkyrie is:
The "fall backwards" comment came after I was engaging a hostile that flew across my front and orbited right through 1-5 o'clock positions. I tracked him intially with my eyes through 1-3 o'clock (missile locks track your eyes so your head can be forwards) and as I was losing him in my peripheral I had to turn my head to follow. He moved behind me so I arched and dropped my head over the back of the chair! Did I catch him? Oh hell no but I got a great view of the rear of my cockpit along with those interesting shots.
What made me put in that much effort? The immersion you get in EVE: Valkyrie is literally real. You lose yourself inside it, you see it, you hear it, you tense on the turns and the banks, you almost feel the incoming fire. Your body naturally does what it thinks you need to do to survive or win, you corkscrew too hard, your stomach will lurch into your throat! You lose your prey and suddenly you may be the prey, then you arch like a gymnast and don't give a damn who's watching (or taking photos). In those moments, for that flight, you are a Valkyrie.
I was also in the #EVE_NT #4 PvP Tournament. That's more than enough said about my "contribution" right there.
Maximus Aerelius O7.