E3 2016: VR First Impressions

During E3 2015 there was some VR shown off but not a huge amount.  Oculus was still almost a year from release, Sony had just started showing their setup, and Samsung was trying to convince us that a cell phone can do VR.  Fast forward a year later and Oculus has finally been released to the masses, Sony has a hard release date for for the PlayStation VR (10/13/16), and Samsung is still trying to convince us a call phone can do VR.  With over a third of the floor being devoted to VR, including an entire segment of the Sony Press Conference, like it or not VR is here to stay.  We tried a bunch of VR at this year’s E3 and here are our impressions.

Farpoint – Sony

Farpoint is a futuristic exploration shooter that Sony brought to the fray equipped with it’s own special gun controller.  You travel through an uncharted planet looking for survivors from a previous mission and come across alien spiders of all shapes and sizes.  The developers have taken full advantage of the VR technology and and done everything they can to add a lot of spacial-awareness to your game play, the part of VR that helps you feel more immersed and eases motion sickness in a lot of people.  The modeled your body so that when you look around you can see your shoulders in the corner of your eye, the shape of the gun meant that your hands would always be where you needed them to be, and the modeling of the gun while it’s being tracked by the PlayStation eye allowed you to see everything your arms did.  All of this combined together allowed me to go through an entire 10 minute demo while standing with minimal disorientation or discomfort.  I did still get thrown off balance every now and again, but it was nothing that couldn’t easily be remedied.  This game appears to still be in the early development stages so no release date is available.

Rez Infinite – Sony

Rez Infinite is a sequel to the older games that came with the “questionable” accessory.  You basically shoot up to 8 enemies at a time while doing everything to dance music.  The translation to VR is actually pretty seamless, allowing to you to look in all directions to target enemies.  While it doesn’t come with any weird vibrating accessories, it’s still a solid fun game.

SuperHyperCube – Sony

This game is a little gimmicky but damned if it wasn’t fun.  You basically recreate the game show Hole in the Wall with a cube that grows bigger with every turn, in random directions.  This may sound like a game that you can play without VR except that the cube blocks your view of the whole, requiring you to look to the sides, under, and over to see how to rotate it to fit.  While it may not be the greatest game ever, it’s definitely a good party game since the turns can be very short for some people.

Eve: Valkyrie – Sony & Oculus

One of the most highly sought after VR games out there, it was great to finally get my hands on this title.  Eve: Valkyrie puts you directly in the cockpit of a spaceship from the MMO game of the same name (one of the longest running MMO’s around).  The game and modeling is extremely polished, as you would expect from a game that’s been in production for a long time, giving you beautiful textures, a fully fleshed out cockpit to look around at (even behind you), and speedy space combat.  No matter which VR system you end up with this is a must try/buy.

WRC6 – PS4 & Oculus (XBone non-VR)

This was an interesting racing demo as it was setup to be a full VR demo of a game that can do both.  The system was setup to be used in either VR or a 3 TV simulator mode; both ways were played in a fully articulating and vibrating simulation chair.  The VR experience we exceptional and one of the hardest racing simulations I’ve played.  The physics handled so well that I could actually feel the car ghosting left and right while traveling at high speeds on the gravel.  I’m convinced that racing in VR is going to be the future and I’m excited.

Wayward Sky – Sony

Wayward Sky is a over the top cutesy point and click adventure that makes me wonder, “Why am I even playing this in VR?”  While some puzzles were nice to see up close there was no real advantage to having this as a VR title since the majority of the game you are just pointing around the main character. Honestly if they were to put this as a quick pick up on the Vita I would probably be more interested, but as it stands there are better things on this list to work with for your VR experience.

Here They Lie – Sony

Here They Lie could easily be the next step in haunted houses.  While not much to the gameplay the game focuses on “weirding you out” with visual tricks and all around weirdness…yeah sounds weird.  The controls are limiting to say the least the only thing you can do is walk, change directions and turn off and on your flashlight.  Not to say Here They Lie isn’t entertaining just don’t expect any heart pounding running action, this is more a visual experience and exploration (with lots of blood and pigmen). This is the perfect game you play for that one friend who doesn’t game, likes horror movies and wants to check out VR.  Very interested to see more.

RIGS – Sony

RIGS Mechanized Combat League has you piloting a mech in an arena competing agaisnt others in a competition. The match I played in was a 3 on 3 where you picked up yellow energy balls charging your mech up until you hit overdrive, and when this happens you jump into a round hoop in the center to score a goal. In order to keep this from happening, you have weapons and special abilities at your disposal to take out your opponents. My play session saw my team lose while I picked up 8 kills and 0 goals scored. The kills were enough to place me 2nd on my team, but at the end of the day it’s scoring goals that counts. Controlling the mech is fairly simple for those used to first person shooters, where the only difference is you aim the left and right guns with where you are looking with the headset, but actual movement is controlled by the joysticks. The game was a lot of fun and made great use of the VR headset, in the same realm of rocket league or other fun takes on sports games with machines of death.

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