By Dom Reseigh-Lincoln published
Games we want in VR
GDC 2016 is now upon us and this year it is VR that is set to steal the show. All the big VR developers are showing off their hardware and, more excitingly, plenty of gaming outfits such as Valve and PlayStation are scheduled to show off some games in VR. Despite what emerges from the Game Developers Conference though, these are the gaming titles that in an ideal world we really want to see make the jump to virtual reality.
Short as it may be, and with a few performance issues still persisting on the PS4 version, our love of Firewatch refuses to die. Developer Campo Santo uses the first-person perspective to create a human relationship so believable the game borders on voyeurism. The autumnal colours of Shoshone National Park, with its charming calm and acute sense of isolation, is perfectly suited to VR.
Immersion on that scale, coupled with the intimate air of connection would provide an experience like no other. The slow pace of the game would also suit current VR technological limits, enabling you soak up the rich world shedding red and gold around you.
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Developer The Chinese Room has already teased the potential of bringing its vibrant and disarming 'walking simulator' to VR (with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR the only confirmed headsets capable of running it), but as of yet Everybody's Gone to the Rapture remains frustratingly static on your TV screen.
That's not to say it's a bad game (in fact, it's an awe-inspiring experience and the use of photogrammetry helps craft one of the most photorealistic worlds ever explored in games), but the level of immersion you could get from EGttR in VR would be something else. The glare of the midday sun, the shadows creeping across country roads, the calm yet haunted homes of a seemingly abandoned Shropshire village. Bliss.
Layers of Fear
While the potently terrifying Layers of Fear might not be gracing the likes of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive quite yet, the thought of VR hasn't been far from developer Bloober Team's mind. The Polish studio even tested a potential VR conversion when the game was released on Steam Early Access last year. Because if it was ever transported to the immersive principles of VR, Layers of Fear could be revolutionary in its terror.
LoF is all about reality and perception crumbling, the world around you decaying before your very eyes. With the ability to look around in 360 degrees, the haunting whispers of its soundtrack in your ears and the almost sickening rocking motion used to simulate your in-game movement, it's practically a crime that LoF isn't already on VR.
Perhaps the most fantastical hope of all lies with a playable teaser for a game that's now been cancelled. The brainchild of veteran games developer and former Metal Gear overlord Hideo Kojima, PT was meant to be the spine-chilling prelude to a soft reboot of the Silent Hill franchise, but a monumental, and painfully public falling out between Kojima-san and publisher Konami left Silent Hills dead.
Even if Silent Hills never gets made, Konami needs to resurrect PT and get the right team to port it to PlayStation VR. That simple setup, walking through the same looped corridor over and over again, searching for clues to break the loop while something wicked hunts you would be so terrifying it would have to come with a clinical warning for your health.
Mirror's Edge Catalyst
We could have picked the mostly excellent 2009 original, but if we're going to bring the world of rebel freerunner Faith we're going to do it in true, open-world style. Sure, there are technical hitches to overcome to be able to get a player moving with freedom and speed in a world built around freerunning and climbing (and the stomach-lurching inertia that will be doing cartwheels and flips in full VR immersion), but the prospect is astounding.
Just imagine that freedom of looking down from atop the edge of a skyscraper, a la The Walk, and leaping like a wannabe Spider-Woman across the bright rooftops of a dystopian future. Mirror's Edge offers daredevil VR thrills like no other videogame.
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We've been told VR compatibility is in the works for Jonathan Braid's beautiful and obtuse first-person puzzler (apparently Oculus Rift will get a version, but Sony's PlayStation VR will not) and the sheer idea of tackling that challenging hub of ever-complicating tasks fills us with a potent mix of excitement and acute dread.
The movement speed of The Witness and the non-linear layout of the island is an ideal fit for the immersion that virtual reality is centered on. Sure, you might end up pulling your hair out just as fast as if you were playing it off a monitor or a PC, but being able to explore that lush island and unlock its secrets in full immersion would give The Witness a brand new dimension.
No, we're not crazy for including Rocket League. Yes, we are absolute geniuses for even considering Psyonix' unexpected superhit. Come on, the best way to port a game over to a brand new platform like VR is to choose a concept that's as simple as possible. And we imagine a game of football between two small teams of RC cars is pretty damn simple.
Simple, but oh-so-addictive. That concept has made Rocket League a killer app across multiple platforms, so add in a VR headset, shift the game from third-person to first-person and you've got one of the most potentially amazing VR games of all time. Get on it, Psyonix. And remember to credit T3 when you do.
EA UFC 2
Okay, there hasn't been a Fight Night game in years so we can't choose a pure boxing simulator (would that we could), but the latest instalment in EA's officially-branded MMA fighting game does offer some features that would be nigh on perfect (if a little disorientating for VR users).
The full MMA experience wouldn't work for VR in first-person (the full body nature of the sport puts paid to the that), but that game's Knockout mode, a stand-up fighting mode all about throwing big punches and searching for that elusive glass chin. Rework it so you're fighting through the eyes of your chosen fighter and you've got one helluva crossover hit on your hands.
Okay, we've not gone crazy with this one (get it? Crazy… golf… no? Forget it) - we really think a golf game is a great fit for virtual reality. Sure, we could plump for the annual PGA series (last year's Rory McIlroy PGA Tour was a decent, if hollow effort), but Dangerous Golf is the club-swinging star for us.
From Three Fields Entertainment (founded by former Criterion Games developers), Dangerous Golf does away with all that serious, stiff upper-lip nonsense and instead turns it into an explosive game of pinball as you aim to destroy your environment with a destructive golf ball. Don't just envision using your VR headset to send the ball flying, but imagine a VR /ball cam/ as it starts laying waste to each hole.
No Man’s Sky
We know space-faring dogfighter sims work on VR, just take a look at EVE: Valkyrie and Elite: Dangerous for proof of that, but what about that other space exploration game is talking about? The one everyone desperately /wants/ to come to VR: we're of course referring to the majesty of Hello Games' No Man's Sky.
Even Hello Games' MD Sean Murray stated in a recent Gamespot interview that, "I think it's perfect fit for virtual reality," so why are we still waiting? The sheer breadth of No Man's Sky - exploring new galaxies and harvesting resources on new planets, battling pirates and heading out in search of the centre of the universe - could really challenge Elite: Dangerous for the VR space crown.