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Colin and Javier – VR: One Year Later…

 

VR has been floating around the gaming market for over a year now… So our two VR adopters, Javier and Colin have decided to reflect on their purchases, their experiences and their justifications for buying their respective VR headsets…

Javier

Was it an expensive mistake?….

I’ve written about VR a few times so everyone knows it’s something I’ve always wanted. At first I was going to wait a while, until the price had dropped a lot, before buying the headset etc. That all changed when I went to a friend’s house and tried it, I only briefly tried the PSVR Worlds, which is more of a tech demo disc, but I was immediately blown away and hooked. Within a week I had taken out my first credit card and bought everything i needed for my home virtual world, impulse buy of the year.

The games I bought with it were Resident Evil, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood & RIGS. Out of these 3 the only one I really, really enjoyed as it if was a proper game was Resident Evil. The other 2 aren’t bad games at all, and are a really good intro to virtual games, but there wasn’t enough staying power, RIGS actually got boring quite quickly and rush of blood is still on my shelf un-completed. Resi, however, gave me a lot of faith in what this new accessory (to me it’s essentially a new console) can do and showed me that you can have full length games on it. I was so impressed at the level of immersion, the quality of the games and the amount you could actually do in game, each one being quite different to the other.

You can read my full review from that time here: https://respawning.co.uk/reviews/javiers-experiences-vr/

Unfortunately after I had completed Resident evil I couldn’t find any other games that came anywhere close, most games felt like a tech demo and i always felt that the £20+ price tags on the PlayStation store were often a risk, I spent more time researching what games were worth buying instead of actually buying them. It sometimes felt like too much of a chore to come home and put my headset on and I often went for games that I could easily put in and play (such as Digimon, South Park and Assassins creed) and I actually started looking at how much I could make back on the head set on eBay. I bought Superhot VR which i absolutely loved but once I had completed the very short story the endless modes only had so much pull to get me back and made me almost feel that every game they release was going to be more of a party game, or really short, and nothing like Resident Evil was going to come out again.

I managed to convince myself not to sell the headset (I don’t need to pay off my credit card that badly!) and make myself buy a VR game every couple of months, and get the most out of it. After all this is future technology and HUGE step in to the future development of what video games will be, that’s my belief anyway. I have to say that overall I’m pleased I still have it. I bought Mervils because I wanted to play a 3rd person game that doesn’t have you fully immersed ALL the time, and overall i’m really enjoying it, and it’s definitely proven to me that more casual games are very possible on it.

There is also the REC Room which is unbelievably completely free, and is a real show of social, virtual interaction. Proving that there is a big possibility of virtual exploration with friends, even cross console.

Check out mine and Colin’s stream of that here:

As well as this I’ve bought DOOM, which i’m honestly still getting to grips with, and Skyrim VR, which has changed the person I am! Skyrim VR is solid gold proof that huge, exciting, ‘normal’ games are very VERY possible in VR. It makes me want to play the VR every time I’ve got a good amount of free time and really does make it worth the price tag.

In all honesty my opinion on VR has gone up and down, from future tech, to another gimmick and back again. Since I’ve first had it the shine has worn off a bit but Skyrim has made me excited to pick it up again and i know it will be keep me entertained for a god damned long time. I just hope that after this there’s another big game that comes out and keeps me going and I don’t fall back down to not wanting to play it.

I fear that the industry slightly shirked away from VR last year and developers see it as too much of a risk, for example the ‘VR’ section in my local game is minimal, this is probably because most of the games are digital only. I know that PS boast over 100+ experiences or games, but so many of these are 5 minute demos, or 4 hour games. I hope that this year sees more fully fledged VR games and gives more of a reason for everyone to buy one, and more of a reason for developers to make VR titles.

I’m unsure if there’s a slight issue where the technology isn’t quite there yet, and this is why a lot of games are old ones adapted to VR. Or it’s too big a commitment in terms of money and time to make a brand new game VR.

Time will tell how well virtual technologies will do but for me this is the start of a new wave of gaming tech and something any avid gamer should own as it gives an utterly unique experience and something which is hugely enjoyable and exciting. By now there should be something for everyone in VR and with the upcoming slate of games, a lot to play.

Lastly you can check out my stream of Skyrim here, which is hands down the best VR game to date:

Colin

I still have my doubts…

I have had my HTC VIVE for just over a year now. When my original PC essentially blew up I needed to find a replacement so I found a decent build which came bundled with an HTC VIVE. I have experienced other VR platforms while working at Brighton Develop Conference and some early concept games.

We’re talking five years ago now. I would be wondering around the Hilton Hotel conference area where I found one guy sitting at a desk from Unreal with a PC and an Oculus Rift. This was during the time I was studying Game Arts, and while this guy was making sure the headset was set-up correctly I decided to ask the following:

“There’s a lot of buzz at the moment regarding VR and pornography and I can see there are a lot of indie developers using Unreal Engine. What do you think the future is for VR or how do we even know it’s been successful?”

Understand this, there is a level of pretentiousness that comes with being an Art student regardless of which art you’re studying. Needless to say, the Unreal rep didn’t have an answer for me. The below is the tech demo which was available, I was able to stand there and look at the environment.

Over the last year, there has been a lot of change regarding virtual reality, the major discussion point is the price of entry. The Oculus and HTC VIVE cost between £399 and £599 respectfully at the time of writing this. The newest entry to the VR market is the PlayStation VR where the starter pack costs £349.99.

PlayStation VR is leading the way regarding accessible VR content, as the cost of all the hardware is tiny in comparison to their PC counterparts. However what is interesting is back in April, a Wall Street Journal report cited the following.

“Sony Corp. plans to expand marketing of its PlayStation VR virtual-reality headset to commercial customers including entertainment facilities in Japan, people familiar with the matter said, after the technology took hold among consumers at a slower-than-expected pace.”

It feels like, in terms of VR, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. While the costs of entry have dropped it’s still not accessible to everyone and/or the software library isn’t enticing enough for new consumers.

We are slowly moving in the right direction and for the most part, it appears to be Bethesda and Zenimax which are leading the charge, which the release of Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and DOOM VFR. Now keep in mind that I’ve only played DOOM VFR from that list and if you’re interested to see how that went the check out the following video.

Now the original Fallout 4 released on Steam, in the last 30 days has had 37,190 peak players which are quite a lot. In comparison to the last 30 days, Fallout 4 VR was released on steam and has had 1,490 peak players.

This is an interesting comparison, one of the most popular video games which continues to get new players isn’t getting that much attention in VR. While I absolutely understand that the pool of VR gamers is going to be shallow, I would have expected more.

If it wasn’t for platforms partially funding the development of these titles in return for console exclusivity then we wouldn’t have Skyrim VR or Fallout 4 VR. While the following is old news, DayZ developer Dean Hall has stated the following.

“There is no money in it. I don’t mean “money to go buy a Ferrari”. I mean “money to make payroll”. People talk about developers who have taken Oculus/Facebook/Intel money like they’ve sold out and gone off to buy an island somewhere. The reality is these developers made these deals because it is the only way their games could come out.”

All in all, I’ve had some interesting experiences with VR where I’ve gone from being a Fat Dante in space to a vault dweller and roaming the wastelands with my pet doggo. If you’re able to get your hands on VR gear then you’re going to have a good time but as a consumer, I feel like it’s worth sitting on the sidelines for a little longer; I know that doesn’t fix the problems I’ve mentioned, but we all want to be teased with something new and magical and at the moment that’s just not available.

 

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