'Eagle Flight' is the best virtual reality game to date

Eagle Flight is the first virtual reality game to leave me breathless.

Ubisoft's debut VR game puts you behind the eyes of a soaring eagle in a tattered post-apocalyptic Paris. Nature has reclaimed the city, giving you the freedom to explore, defend your territory from other winged threats and fly through carefully arranged sets of hoops.





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There are also feathers and fish to collect, because that's how Ubisoft open world games roll.

If the fiction doesn't quite make sense, that's OK. The only thing that really matters is the flying. Eagle Flight nails the sensation of careening through the sky in a way that no other VR experience has yet managed.

It starts with your perspective, which positions your eyes between a feathered brow at the top of your view and an elongated beak at the bottom. 

These are more than visual flourishes, which are a constant unconscious reminder of your eagle-ness. They anchor you to your virtual body, using nothing more high-tech than psychology to ward off motion sickness.

It's astonishingly effective. 

Eagle Flight is a fast-moving game. Its reflex challenges task you with navigating through tight confines at high speeds. Yet for all the many twists and turns to make, all the narrow corridors to squeeze through, I never felt a hint of dizzyness or nausea.

As it probably is for real eagles, where your head turns in Eagle Flight, your body follows. Moving through the game is as natural as looking at your destination.

It's a little jarring at first, especially as you get a handle on tilting your head left or right for sharper turns. But by the end of your first hour in the game, paths through the guts of crumbling buildings that once looked so impossible to navigate transform into easy shortcuts.

Wrapped around this very strong foundation is a familiar Ubisoft open world game. If you've played Watch Dogs or any Assassin's Creed game, then you've seen this before. 

Flying to or shooting any of the floating icons scattered throughout the world starts the challenge associated with it. Some activities involve flying through hoops, others involve using your eagle's screech as a weapon to get rid of other gangs of birds. 

Unlike Ubi's other open world games, however, exploration is mostly just a means to an end in Eagle Flight. There are collectibles scattered throughout the world, but the real thrills lie in the various challenges.

Standard challenges are rated on a three-star scale, with each star earned counting toward a cumulative total that, in turn, unlocks "expert"-level challenges. There's not a whole lot to "unlock" in the traditional sense, but each experience is its own reward.

The best of the challenges are built around movement and nothing else. Flying through series' of rings in the skies above Paris or the streets and catacombs below it is exhilarating in a way that no other video game — VR or otherwise — has quite nailed.

Challenges that focus on defending your territory serve to push the (admittedly minimal) story forward, but they're less appealing. Eagle Flight's combat is just too simplistic, limiting your ability to own the skies. It's fun in the game's capture the flag-style versus mode, but having live competition helps. For the most part, combat challenges are a low point.

This is especially true later in the story with certain timed challenges. Your eagle can't outpace some of the other winged creatures in the skies above Paris, making those "missions" impossible unless you fly a perfect route and land every shot. 

I don't want to minimize that as a frustration — it's infuriating to have your story progress halted by poor mission design — but Eagle Flight satisfies on a visceral level. Even if you never see the end of the story, there's a lot to like about it.

It comes down to the experience. I've sampled a lot of VR games this year, and in the handful of years between Oculus Rift's Kickstarter campaign and eventual consumer release.

There are games that left me dizzy and nauseous, games that work fine with or without VR, and a small-yet-growing handful of games that shine in VR.

Eagle Flight is in a class of its own. It's a game that I wouldn't want to play anywhere other than VR, and it's also a game I want to keep playing because of VR. If you're an early adopter for this new technology and you've been looking for your first, true killer app ... it's right here.

You can play Eagle Flight ($39.99) for Oculus Rift on Oct. 18, PlayStation VR on Nov. 8 and HTC Vive on Dec. 20. 



Resource : http://mashable.com/2016/10/18/eagle-flight-vr-ubisoft-review/#oUnvh1RgDOqA

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