You are an eagle. Paris has been abandoned by humanity and taken over by animals and trees. Put on your VR headset and go explore.
Sony should have packed this game with the Playstation VR. It is a great execution of a really pure and simple game idea. It is a complete and (mostly) quite easy "full" game (as opposed to a demo or teaser). Perhaps most important for my pack-in case, it is a game which offers free motion in an open world with about the simplest controls imaginable. It occured to me that Eagle flight is how I want to show new people what VR can be about. I can let them put on the headset, launch the free flight mode and just let them explore. They will not even need to worry about the controller at first.
Not only are the controls simple, they also feel good and precise. You look where you want to go, and you turn by tilting your head (you can of course turn your head too, but you hit limits of camera field of view and cable entanglement pretty soon). I was worried beforehand that head tilting would feel strange and imprecise, but it works really well even in challenging situations. I never felt I was fighting the controls as I flew around. Every time I crashed into something it felt … fair, for the lack of a better word. It is not the game's fault I tried to take that corner at too high a speed and too narrow an angle.
Some probably complain Eagle flight is too short. I finished the main story in two highly enjoyable and intense (for my current pattern of playing games) sessions, probably six or so hours in total. Not only is that a fair amount of gameplay to me, there is also a lot left to do. There are items to pick up (of which I have not found even 50%), results to improve on most of the missions, and also a whole online multiplayer mode. I am not much of a multiplayer person generally, but I think I need to try it out to see what it is like. The worst criticism I recall seeing of the multiplayer mode is that it could have been even more to it, which is pretty amazingly high praise.
So what kind of missions do eagles in Paris go on? There are checkpoint races, escort missions and dogfights, with a few specials thrown in here and there. Every mission is scored one to three stars, has its own leaderboard and can be re-tried in ghost mode (that is, competing against your previous run of the mission). I think my favourites are actually the straight and simple above-ground checkpoint races. (There are also ones taking place in underground tunnels.) They take you on fun paths through the city, discovering passages and views I would not find myself, and they provide all the joy of flying with minimal complications.
The general level of difficulty is nice and low, but the challenge does pick up toward the end. Three missions toward the end had me dying and retrying quite a bit before I got through, and though all missions last only a copule of minutes I do think those ones could have used a mid-way restart point or two.
Much to their credit, I never felt truly frustrated or cheated. Even when I was shot down by an enemy outside of my view I felt eager to restart and do better. I look forward to re-playing most missions for fun and higher scores.
Truly minor mission quibbles
Scores seem to be all about how quickly you finsih missions, but it is not completely clear. I would have liked a little more information there. Also on the side of very slight negatives, most or all missions seem to have a time limit. You do not actually see it as far as I can tell, but if you take too long the mission will suddenly end and you will fail and need to restart. It did not happen to me very often, but it still seemed a little bit unnecessary. Give me a low score and encourage me to replay instead. Also, in those missions where time limit actually matters more, I would have liked to know about it.
I truly enjoyed my first run through Eagle flight. I look forward to playing it a lot more, for new accomplishments but at least as much for the experience of soaring above and through the streets of Paris. And I am eager to use the game to demonstrate the joy of VR to whichever friends and family get in my way. The Eagle flight experience feels almost Wii-like in its approachability, created around and from the essential unique features of the system on which it runs.
Finally: sequels and games with similar mechanics? Sign me up.