VR on the E3 stage
Although 2016 was billed as "the year of VR" due to the retail releases of the long-awaited Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality systems, many people still questioned whether VR was just a fad. After all, virtually every game or experience available for both systems are small projects from small independent developers that often feel more like tech demos than full games. Well, after E3, I think we can lay those fears to rest.
I'm an early adopter of VR, so I've believed in the promise of VR for a long time. But even I figured we wouldn't see any VR games from major game developers before 2018. The optimist in me hoped maybe we'd see some VR stuff teased at E3, but what we got was beyond my wildest expectations.
We didn't have to wait long either. At Bethesda's E3 event on Sunday night, Pete Hines announced that their just-released, universally loved DOOM would be getting the VR treatment, and quickly followed that up by saying that the entirety of Fallout 4 would be released for the HTC Vive next year. Not only are we getting a triple-A game in VR in 2017, but it's also a game that fills a gaping void in the current library of VR games: the open-world RPG.
I'm already giddy imagining looking at the virtual Pip-boy on my virtual arm, and terrified at the prospect of ghouls rushing at me in VR. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the game in action, but it was playable at the event, so hopefully some footage will leak out soon. Perhaps the most exciting thing Pete said, though, was that Bethesda was committed to being a leader in VR, and will continue to bring games to the platform. I can die a happy man after I've played Elder Scrolls VI in VR.
At Microsoft's event on Monday, while no specific VR titles were unveiled, they did make sure to mention that Project Scorpio would be VR capable when it launches late next year. No details were given about the headset itself, but given MS's existing relationship with Oculus, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to assume it will use the Rift.
At Ubisoft's conference, a solid 10 minutes was dedicated to Star Trek: Bridge Crew; a four-player coop VR game where you and your friends take on the roles of captain, engineer, tactical officer, and helmsman. Bridge Crew will be releasing this year for all 3 major VR devices, and looks like a dream for Trek fans. Hopefully it includes some moral and ethical dilemmas in between space battles for the true Star Trek experience.
It's no surprise that VR got the spotlight again at Sony's press conference, since PSVR will be launching in 4 short months. First, a game that no one saw coming: Resident Evil 7. Capcom's latest entry in the series seems to have taken major inspiration from P.T., and it's just the kind of reimagining RE needed. While the game isn't only a VR game, it will be fully playable in PSVR. The flat version will be available on PS4 as well as Xbox One. The game looks scary enough as is, and will likely be terrifying in VR.
Sony also teased two other VR specific titles: Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission, and an unnamed Batman game. X-Wing VR seems like the kind of game I expected we might see this year; a short experience more than a full game. At least, that's what I gather from the "Mission" in the title. While they showed some game footage, it looked like rough place-holder graphics. Nothing like the beauty of Battlefront, or the upcoming Battlefield 1. I expect that will get better before release.
As for Batman, there's not much to the trailer, except that Mark Hamill's Joker is still amazing. The game is being developed by Rocksteady, who is responsible for the excellent Arkham games. It seems the game will focus on the "world's greatest detective" aspect of Batman, by tasking you with solving a mystery using some of Batman's gadgets. It's apparently a short experience, but the fact that a big triple-A studio is working on a VR title with such a big name franchise is still exciting.
During the PC Gaming Show, we got a teaser for Serious Sam VR. Apparently Oculus offered the developer, Croteam, a large sum of money for exclusivity of the game, but Croteam turned them down. The game will be releasing on Steam this summer. This move has garnered Croteam a lot of goodwill from the folks at /r/Vive.
I'll leave you with a few more trailers for games that didn't get to take the big stage, but look great none-the-less:
Here They Lie: