E3’s big press conferences are finally concluded, and it’s safe to say there was something for everyone this year. The FPS fans have a new Black Ops, a Gears of War revamp and even a Star Wars game that looks promising. RPGers got everything on their list with FFVII’s reboot and the third installment to both Kingdom Hearts and Shenmue. Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi are combining universes, Star Fox’s new game looks gorgeous and a multiplayer Zelda sounds just peachy. I don’t think anyone was left out in the cold, and now 2016 is shaping up to be a huge year in games.
Another point that was really hit upon was the inclusion of VR helmets. Sony did a quick blurb about their Project Morpheus, which came just days after Microsoft and Oculus Rift announced their new partnership. This is after we’ve heard about Samsung’s Gear VR, which should be out shortly, and Google’s Cardboard, which encourages you to put a box on your head, shove your tablet inside and call it virtual reality. Not to mention that a little Kickstarter success called ANTVR was present at E3, showing off an ambitious helmet that seeks to do everything at a lower price.
Is this what the future of gaming will be? I know we had a lot of “virtual reality” stuff back in the early 90s, but, let’s be honest, it was hokey and pretty boring compared to what the big companies are promising nowadays. And there are some games that just make sense: strapping on a full-view visor for Deus Ex or the new Doom would up the experience to an incredible new level. Creating an immersive screen for The Last Guardian or Dark Souls III would help lock a player into the story in a way that was previously achieved by throwing everyone out of your house and barring the door. The potential is seriously limitless.
At the same time, if you had taken great little experiences like Journey, Machinarium or A Bird’s Story and over-glamed them with a VR experience, would they have been the same game? One issue that arises when a new technology or feature hits the industry is that more than a few try to just shoe-horn it in without any thought to if it helps the game ( or worse, if it hurts the game). Just because one game does something well (Bejeweled) doesn’t mean that every single company should try and make a match-3 as well. Even if one person perfects the endless runner (Canabalt) do we then need to run as Olaf, a Minion or James Franco from Oz? It’s important to know when to say “This is a great idea” instead of “Everyone else is doing this, let’s not miss the boat.”
We have a great future ahead, no matter what console or platform you align with, and it’s up to us to drive the industry in the direction that we want it to go. So, by all means, get ready to strap on a helmet and dive into your game: just remember to check and see how shallow it is first, otherwise you’ll get a headache.
Though if we get a chance to bring DynaMarisa 3D
to a VR helmet*, I think it might be hard to pass up.
*Not confirmed in any way. Please stay in your seats and don’t jump to conclusions.