I got absolutely thrashed the first couple of times I played the Space Junkies open beta on PSVR. At first I thought it was just because I was a bit of a noob, but then I twigged the real reason - Space Junkies is cross-play between PS4 and PC.
PC players, it turns out, are able to use motion controls that allow them to dual wield and aim with two weapons independently. PSVR players on the other handed are limited to a bizarre control scheme that sees you aiming and moving with the DualShock 4 only. This is something that takes a little while to get used to, as you'll be able to see in this week's Ian's VR Corner.
Now, before I recorded this week's episode, I did figure out that you could turn off cross-play between both platforms, so you'll actually be able to watch me get some rather satisfying wins. What you won't be able to see me turn off however is the God-awful snap-turning, but more on that after the video...
I should clarify before I continue that I have only played the Space Junkies beta on PSVR, not on PC. From what I can gather from the video footage I've seen, the PC version has a vastly superior control scheme to PSVR and so the majority of my criticisms in this post will be aimed towards PSVR only.
Space Junkies is a VR multiplayer deathmatch game for up to four players. Battling it out, 6DoF style across four different game modes, players will get to experience zero-G combat in six, rather good-looking and well-balanced levels. With multiple weapon pick-ups, suit-mounted power-ups and a load of customisation, there's definitely a lot going on and on the surface at least, Space Junkies looks like a highly polished VR shooter.
That's why it's such a pain that it all falls apart as soon as you pick up the DualShock and try to kill your first enemy. Honestly, even head-based aiming would work better than trying to strafe, fly and aim with the DualShock all at the same time. But, as it currently stands, this train-wreck is the only control scheme available for PS4 players.
To add insult to injury, not only do PC players get full motion control support, they also get smooth turn locomotion; something that is completely lacking from the PS4 build. While some people may be fine with the snap turn as it reduces motion sickness, veteran PSVR players will quickly become frustrated with the way it limits your ability to aim and move fluidly, especially when they go head-to-head with the PC crowd.
Space Junkies has all the makings of a cracking multiplayer shooter and on the PC it probably is. However, the current control scheme on the PS4 actively works against making the game the fast and fluid shooter it wants to be.
After struggling with the snap turn and the DualShock aiming I did eventually get the hang of it, and I did start having a lot of fun (when I was playing against PS4 players only). Trouble is, I just can't help thinking how much better the game would be, if only the developers could patch its controls on console so that they weren't such a piece of junk.
Here's hoping Ubisoft listen to the negative feedback from the console crowd and work to rectify these problems before Space Junkies goes on sale early next week, because I don't think I would be able to recommend picking it up on PS4 until the control and locomotion options are improved.
If you enjoyed this episode of Ian's VR Corner, you can catch up with my previous adventures over on YouTube in our VR playlist.