Ubisoft has been working on Space Junkies for quite a while, but it was only recently announced for Playstation VR. Time for a look at the version that Sony owners can now purchase.
I think I first heard about Space Junkies about two years, and was able to go hands on with it a few times since then. Because of Ubisoft’s excellent track record when it comes to VR (Eagle Flight, Werewolves Within and Star Trek Bridge Crew are all highly original and polished takes on the medium), I couldn’t wait for Space Junkies to arrive. The only downside, being a PSVR player, is that it was a PC exclusive title for a long time – and it spent quite a while in early access on that platform before finally being announced as coming to Playstation as well.
As with other Ubisoft VR titles, Space Junkies supports cross-platform online play. That should help the game’s community stay viable in the long run, although there’s also a reason for some worries. Werewolves Within is a great game, but after a few months it became a lot harder to quickly find a game to join, and switching servers became part of the game as you searched for others – and that’s with cross-platform play enabled.
I bring up Werewolves Within for a reason, because like that game Space Junkies also doesn’t support any kind of single player option. It’s a multiplayer-only affair, even though it feels like the type of game that would work just fine with bots, and it has a premise that also lends itself to all kinds of trials. Perhaps this’ll be introduced post-launch, but for now this is a title that single player fans are going to want to steer clear of.
Those who enjoy online multiplayer are in for a treat though, as Space Junkies is a very well polished zero gravity shooter. Floating around in space, you pick up weapons that are floating around and use them to take out others in an arena-like combat environment. In addition to weapons, combat buffs can also be picked up and picking the right character class will also make a difference in-game – there are multiple elements to keep an eye on when considering your preferred playing style. Weapons all act differently too, so you’ll want to be careful about which one you float towards.
Speaking of weapons and how to operate them, it’s worth talking about the control scheme on Playstation VR. All my previous sessions with Space Junkies were always PC-based, using motion controllers to actually grab weapons and items around you in zero gravity and then aim them at other players. Surprisingly, the Playstation VR version does not support Move controllers and limits players to using a DualShock controller. Is it less immersive to not be able to reach out and grab a gun and then aim and fire it? You bet.
That doesn’t mean that the Playstation VR version doesn’t control well though. The DualShock scheme works very well, and firing two-handed weapons is actually easier than when using motion controllers. Other movements have also been relegated to simple button presses as well, so the switch to a gamepad certainly doesn’t hurt in terms of ease of use. Will it affect player balance in a cross-platform environment to have these different control schemes? Time will tell.
Audiovisually, Space Junkies is a great game and the screenshots don’t really do it justice. The lighting and sound effects in particular are very impressive, with a large role reserved for positional audio – which even translates to the ability to verbally communicate with other players.
Because RIGS was released so early in Playstation VR’s life cycle, Space Junkies doesn’t feel as unique as some of Ubisoft’s other titles, but it certainly is a well-polished sci-fi shooter for the multiplayer crowd. Gameplay is both fun and flows very well, although the total package feels a little lacking in terms of content. The number of game modes is limited, and the lack of engaging offline/single player options can be felt even if you’re mostly interested in the multiplayer portion.