Round-up: the best of GDC 2016

Everything important from the huge gaming expo

Everyone who's anyone in gaming has been in San Francisco this week for the Games Developer Conference, and we've been keeping tabs on the flood of news and product launches coming out of California - here's the best of everything that's happened.

All the major hardware manufacturers and software developers have been in attendance, and virtual reality has been the big story all week long. Alongside new VR announcements from Oculus, HTC and Sony we've seen some new exciting new bits of kit as well.

The Sulon Q offers standalone VR

Sulon Q

Does the world need another virtual reality headset? It's got one anyway, and this is a little different - the Sulon Q packs all the computing power you need into the headset itself, so you don't have to worry about trailing cables and can take it on the train with you (if you don't mind some strange looks).

We're not fully convinced yet (there's no price and only a vague release date of later this year) but the backing of AMD lends the device plenty of extra credibility. Let's hope it really can offer an experience somewhere between mobile-powered headsets like the Gear VR and full-fat VR devices such as the HTC Vive.

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR

Sony chose GDC to finally give us some concrete information about a price and a launch date for the PlayStation VR: £349/$399 and October, if you're wondering. The specs of the device were confirmed too, with a 5.7-inch OLED screen and 1920x1080 pixel resolution on offer to keen VR gamers.

The PSVR is an interesting proposition: cheaper than its major rivals, assuming you already have a PS4, but slightly less powerful as well. At least the gaming line-up should be solid given the maturity of the PlayStation platform, and Sony says more than 50 games are going to be ready by launch day.

Oculus Rift games

Oculus Rift

Are you going to fork out hundreds of pounds on a VR headset if there's nothing to play on it? No, no you're not, which is why Oculus took the opportunity of GDC to show off a bunch of fantastic-looking games coming to its hardware in the near future, from frantic space shooters to creepy horror titles.

You get two games bundled with the Rift itself of course, the cute 3D platformer Lucky's Tale and the deep space battler Eve: Valkyrie. The line-up looks strong but note that some of the new titles announced by Oculus require the special Touch Controllers to work properly, and they're not out until later in the year.

HTC Vive games

HTC Vive

HTC (with Valve) and Oculus (with Facebook) have been head-to-head in the VR race for many months now, and we've also been treated to a sneak preview of the impressive titles coming to the Vive. There are 38 titles in the pipeline, which seem to run the full gamut of gaming experiences and genres.

The fun Job Simulator and creative titles Fantastic Contraption and Tilt Brush come with orders of the headset itself, but there are lots more on the way. The Star Wars simulation HTC showed off at GDC is particularly mind-blowing - there's nothing quite like powering up a lightsaber in virtual reality.

Windows 10 and Xbox One

Windows 10

Microsoft of course has lots going on as far as gaming is concerned, and the Redmond-based company rocked up at GDC to tell the world that its vision of getting Windows 10 universal apps running on the Xbox One is about to be realised. The first wave of games, including Rise of the Tomb Raider, has launched already.

The Xbox and Windows digital storefronts are about to be unified too, and Microsoft also had the time to announce a new Xbox Live Tournament Platform that should work across its gaming console and Windows 10 computers. Don't forget Microsoft has a stake in Oculus Rift's development too.

MSI and Razer gaming hardware

MSI Vortex PC

It hasn't all been about VR at GDC 2016, although there's not much else to talk about. We like the look of MSI's chunky Vortex PC, like a Mac Pro with a Windows and gaming twist: first unveiled at CES earlier this year, the machine can take two graphics cards, the latest Intel Skylake processors and up to 64GB of RAM.

Razer was also on hand to announce a couple of new configurations for its mid-range Blade laptop, giving gamers even more choice when picking a portable system, as well as a price ($499) and release date (April) for its Racer Core USB-C external graphics enclosure. Better start saving up...

And everything else

The Witcher 3

It's been a packed show and we've also seen Epic Games showcasing its new graphics technology, upgrades to Twitch's streaming platform, a juggernaut of a VR-ready graphics card from AMD, and details about an upcoming Assassin's Creed VR experience. Have you managed to spot the theme yet?

Here's a clue: it starts with V and ends with R. Plus, we got confirmation that Minecraft is coming to the Samsung Gear VR as well as the Oculus Rift. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt scooped the game of the year award at GDC 2016 while the also excellent Her Story picked up prizes for innovation and narrative.

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