So unless you live under a rock you’ll be aware there are several Virtual Reality headsets currently in development among many companies in the gaming industry. We have the flagship Oculus Rift who have partnered with Microsoft, Sony’s Project Morpheus, Valve is also making SteamVR with HTC, and also Starbreeze’s appropriately named StarVR. These are all new VR headsets that have been announced in the past few years and could be a new way of experiencing games in the future. Or perhaps it could be another tombstone in the graveyard of failed peripherals, like Kinect or Playstation Move or anything else that was supposed to enhance the gaming experience.
But surely with all these companies on board, there has to be a future in all this? Perhaps, although I highly doubt your average gamer is going to be interested in sticking a glorified toaster on their head when they want to play Call of Duty. Let me just say now that my only experiences with VR has been two very short demos with an Oculus Rift. The first time was a roller-coaster simulation with no interaction at all, and the second was a very limited horror game. Both of these were at an event so my time was limited, and I wasn’t in the same mindset as if I was at home alone. I walked away feeling somewhat impressed, but not completely convinced of the practicality of VR.
Another important point to bring up is the exclusivity of the headsets, StarVR has already been shown off with some Overkill’s The Walking Dead video game. Imagine if it was StarVR locked, an expensive peripheral that was locked for that game. What if I wanted to use my Oculus Rift for console games too? Is spending such an exorbitant amount of money on a device that can only be used for certain games really worth it?
But the immersion Alex, think of the immersion!
There will also have to be testing for these surely, imagine if you ordered your brand new SteamVR only to put it on, boot up Grand Theft Auto V and then proceed to vomit violently 10 minutes in? Will there be an option to try these out before we buy them? I’m probably asking too many questions, too early, but these are things we need to consider.
But enough of my skepticism, there are a lot of awesome ways VR could work in my opinion. I think VR has a place in gaming, for slow-paced, immersive experiences, not first-person shooters or games that require quick timing, I feel like that could make the experience less enjoyable. When I think of games that would work well with VR, I’m not thinking of AAA titles, I’m thinking more along the lines of indie and smaller titles that could focus more on how the VR can make the experience feel more real and meaningful. Imagine entire worlds you could be transported to, conversations face to face with characters, massive set pieces with you looking around at explosions and such. Games that require a next to no amount of fast response timing are the only way I can see this working efficiently.
As release looms ever closer for most of these headsets, I am awaiting more details on how the logistics are going to work. I want to know pricing, compatibility, exclusivity, comfort level for my sensitive scalp and various other very important things. Maybe I’m being too harsh, maybe I’m missing the point of the industry trying new things, maybe I’m just seeing it from a different viewpoint. Whatever it is, there’s one last thing I want to say to sum up everything.
This is still fucking cool: