EVE: Gunjack is a first-person arcade space shooter available for download from the PlayStation Store for PlayStation VR. EVE: Gunjack is set within the EVE Universe that was first established in May 2003 upon the release of the award-winning massively multiplayer online RPG EVE Online on PC and Mac which has also produced other home console spin-offs such as first-person shooter Dust 514 on PS3 in May 2013 and online multiplayer dogfighter shooter PlayStation VR launch title EVE: Valkyrie in October 2016 with a non-VR release on PS4 and PC in September 2017. Can EVE: Gunjack deliver an immersive virtual reality experience set in the EVE Universe, albeit within the arcade space shooter genre?
The story revolves around a pilot of a defensive gun ship that is tasked with protecting an ore mining mothership situated in outer space from the potential of hostile space pirates of all shapes and sizes looking to steal their cargo and make away with it.
EVE: Gunjack starts with an optional tutorial or the first mission, although it is advised for players to begin with the tutorial as it is only a few minutes in length, while actually being rather fun as a nice area to become accustomed to the immersion and controls. Missions are structured into being unlocked from the second mission onwards by earning a maximum of 3 stars per mission based upon your performance such as the period of time taken to complete the mission, the longest kill streak from shooting down enemy ships, the percentage of enemies destroyed and the quantity of continues used out of 3, while a master rating is only possible through not getting hit. Beyond the tutorial, there are 20 missions and 2 bonus missions that task the player with protecting the mothership from ever increasing quantities of small to large asteroids totalling to 66 stars that can be gained.
Ship design is quite interesting as everything looks futuristic in architecture and build quality as the front of your cockpit has a strong transparent surface which allows you to see where your turrets are being aimed with a heads-up display that aims weaponry in the direction the pilot is facing. Enemy ship design varies substantially from a group of small enemy ships that fly in formation and do not withstand much damage before being destroyed to much larger enemy ships which are better equipped in both offence and defence as they fire missiles at your ship and are able to receive more damage, alongside even more advanced enemy ships that utilise cloaking and space warping technology to make it as hard as possible for their ship to be destroyed.
Primary weapons are turrets externally located on either side of the cockpit, but there is more to the weaponry than just a couple of turrets. Destroying 10 consecutive enemy ships or a much larger enemy ship will yield a power-up referred to as a power core such as a health restoration to repair damage to your ship, thicker armour to protect against incurring significant damage from incoming enemy ships, homing missiles that automatically search for the nearest enemy ship, a smart bomb capable of destroying an entire wave of enemies, a laser that carves through enemies with ease as a temporary replacement to your gun turrets and more besides. However, only a single power core can be equipped at any given moment; resulting in the player needing to utilise a power core at just the right time such as having 50% or more damage inflicted to your ship before using the health restoration or homing missiles during an unanticipated larger than usual group of enemy ships.
Environment design is varied as your small turret ship is guided through the inner workings from onboard the mothership to where it is required to be stationed at the side of the ship in a region of outer space known as the Outer Ring which hosts some picturesque stars and galaxies. However, your ship does not move as it is effectively tethered to the side of the ore mining mothership; therefore you are viewing the environments that the mothership is passing through.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of holding R2 to fire your ship’s turrets; pressing L2 to activate a power-up; pressing square to reload ammunition for your ship’s turrets; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu, while holding the options button or tapping the touch pad to reset head tracking. The major standout highlight of the control scheme is the VR head tracking that enables the player to manoeuvre the first-person viewpoint while simultaneously aiming your ship’s turrets by naturally looking around. There is no vibration which could have occurred when enemy ships fire on your ship.
Graphically, EVE: Gunjack is rather impressive with excellent enemy ship models and explosions when ships have been destroyed, alongside amazing backdrops from the Outer Ring region of outer space, while the fast-paced action is delivered with a consistently superb performance throughout its stunning virtual reality immersion.
EVE: Gunjack’s presentation is immersive throughout the menus as each menu is projected as though it was a large scale environment in stereoscopic 3D. The highlight of the menus is the amazing backdrop onboard the mothership that your ship departs in the build-up to each mission in which your view can be panned from one side of the mothership to the other via head tracking which is also how options are selected before pressing X to navigate or adjust an option accordingly.
Voice-overs include the manager of the ore mining mothership providing guidance on what to expect upon reaching the exterior of their ship, while a female voice-over informs employees of announcements related to their work. Sound effects include your ship’s gun turrets being fired at enemy ships, utilising power cores to protect your ship or have more firepower against enemy ships, enemy ships firing their weaponry at your ship, explosions and more besides. There is no DualShock 4 speaker which could have produced the male voice-over that informs the player of their upcoming mission and the onboard female voice which tells you the name of the power core that had just been collected and alerts the player when your ship is running low on health.
The trophy list includes 12 trophies with 7 bronze trophies, 4 silver trophies and 1 gold trophy. Easier trophies include the Jack of All Trades bronze trophy for completing the first mission and the Overpowered bronze trophy for using 100 power-ups. Harder trophies include the Gunjack silver trophy for completing mission 20 with a 3 star rating and the Poetry gold trophy for achieving a master rating in every mission. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 20 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although as you progress through the missions; a noticeable difficulty curve becomes very much apparent around a third of the way through the missions. Players will begin to encounter some larger waves of enemy ships that approach in an unpredictable manner, while more enemy ships gradually contain cloaking and space warping technology with more missiles fired upon your ship as enemies step up their hostility.
For family and friends situated in the same room; the TV presents what the player is experiencing, albeit without the same quality of depth in comparison to virtual reality. There is no social screen multiplayer which is a missed opportunity to introduce local multiplayer through having the VR player defending the mothership as the TV player controls each wave of enemies by deciding the approach and formation of each enemy wave in a competitive multiplayer battle.
Online leaderboards focus on the highest scores set by each player with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and the highest score set by each player for each mission and a total combined score between every mission, while players can compare their positioning on the leaderboards with global players, friends and display your position within any given leaderboard.
EVE: Gunjack’s replayability stems from 20 missions and 2 bonus missions that each have multiple motivations to improve your performance throughout every mission such as attempting to achieve a high score to not only earn all 3 stars but also a master rating for not getting hit by an enemy and trying to elevate your positioning on the rankings of the online leaderboards which will keep players returning for quite some time after completing every mission.
- Title: EVE: Gunjack
- Developer: CCP Games
- Publisher: CCP Games
- System: PlayStation VR
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: No
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1 (Online Leaderboards)
- Hard Drive Space Required: 680.8MB