The video game industry is arguably one of the more innovative areas of entertainment. Games have made the leap from PCs and consoles to just about every device imaginable and reached sectors as varied as education and casino; you can play poker on the bus while your kids learn about problem solving playing Minecraft at school. Whether it’s Call of Duty on the PlayStation 4 or mobile titles like the Betway casino app, gaming now has almost universal appeal, and virtual reality (VR) headsets are an opportunity to have more immersive experiences than ever before.
However, it’s probably fair to say that the software doesn’t quite exist yet to make them an essential purchase – or, at least, there are too few titles in 2016 to justify the £550 (Oculus) outlay. With that in mind, here’s a quick look at three current or upcoming games that make the most of VR technology.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
It would be an understatement to say that Capcom’s flagship title, Resident Evil, has been going through something of an identity crisis in recent years. The franchise changed from thoughtful horror to fast-paced action over the space of six main series titles, leaving only the soap-opera plot lines intact.
The seventh instalment in the franchise simultaneously moves closer to the series’ roots (the statuette/spider puzzle in the trailer wouldn’t look out of place in the original) and further into other genres, adding stealth elements, a first-person viewpoint, and more of the unsettling, in-your-face atmosphere that made the early Silent Hill games so frightening.
And, of course, VR functionality. For the horror genre, there’s nothing more valuable as a storytelling medium than forcing players to experience a nightmare first-hand, through their own eyes. And strapping on your headset for a meal of gristle with a knife at your throat (as in the recent ‘Lantern’ demo) might just be one of the most intense experiences out there come release in January 2017.
Created by the team behind first-person shooter Crysis, The Climb is a lesson in the potential of VR headsets. A dream of exploration helped no end by the calibre of the graphical engine behind it, The Climb is an adventure game in which the player (or players – the game supports multiplayer) tackles rock faces in various locales around the world.
It may sound dull (rocks tend to be) but it’s exactly the kind of experience that sets VR apart from conventional keyboard and controller-based gaming; it’s an immersive, adrenaline-fueled trip in which your avatar is almost always one mistake from death. Fortunately, you don’t have to watch the ground hurtling towards you when you fail a risky leap.
If you’re still not sold, The Climb also taps into another aspect fuelling the popularity of VR – travel. Obviously, video game scenery is never going to match the real thing but The Climb’s regions, one of which is based on Halong Bay in Vietnam, are beautiful. It’s hard to imagine not stopping for a while to watch waves break hundreds of feet below you.
Anybody who grew up on a diet of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica has been secretly waiting for the opportunity to play a direct role in the defence of planet Earth against evil marauders. And, while that day isn’t here yet, it got a little bit closer with the announcement of VR-ready game EVE: Valkyrie.
EVE hasn’t had the best luck with spin-offs. Dust 514, released as a more action-oriented compliment to the main EVE franchise, was criticised for its awkward controls and slow pace. It was officially abandoned in February of this year when its servers were taken offline. EVE: Valkyrie, on the other hand, looks a little more promising.
A dogfighting simulator, EVE: Valkyrie puts players in the cockpit of a spaceship and tasks them with facing down various enemies. The game includes traditional deathmatch and ‘capture the flag’ modes as well as a unique ‘Carrier Assault’ option, in which you’ll have to destroy a mothership while fending off its defenders.
There you have it; three games that make full use of VR headsets and something new for the Christmas list.