If you thought that virtual reality’s renaissance had finally run its course, you’d be sorely mistaken. In fact, it looks like all the biggest names in the video game industry are doubling down on immersive, headset-based experiences.
One look at this year’s E3 gathering in LA and you’ll see VR is going to have one helluva second generation.
Microsoft’s new super-beast, the Xbox One X, is VR and 4K ready while Sony continues to invest heavily in new VR titles for PlayStation VR. We’ve even got Intel bringing virtual reality and eSports together with the launch of Ready At Dawn’s Tron-esque sports sim Echo Arena.
Virtual reality is just getting started…
We’ve known for a while that Bethesda was looking to bring some of its properties to the world of VR, but we weren’t expecting to a) see Fallout 4 mostly in its entirety tailored for a VR setup and b) the fact it’s coming out in 2017!
Bethesda, in classic Bethesda style, showed off some intriguing gameplay but held back on confirming too many particulars: We know it’s currently being developed for HTC Vive, with the Vive controllers enabling you to dual wield and access you Pip-Boy like an actual futuristic wearable.
But, best of all, we’ll be getting it before the end of the year.
Hot on the heels of announcing Fallout 4 VR (a title coming within the next six months, no less), Bethesda went and dropped another mic on the stage of its own showcase – Doom VFR.
Much like Fallout VR, Doom VFR uses both a mixture of teleportation locomotion and the Vive's touchpad to mimic the fast-based controls of a regular controller.
It looks great, although there have been some concessions to make it work. You won’t be getting the same solo campaign as the full version (it’ll most likely be a truncated version, instead) and there won’t be any multiplayer modes.
Sure, it’s been trimmed in a few places but you’ll be too busy curb-stomping cyberdemons to even notice. It’s coming to HTC Vive and PSVR later this year.
With Bethesda head honcho Todd Howard confirming that The Elder Scrolls VI isn’t even in development yet, and The Elder Scrolls Online now on its first major expansion in the recently released Morrowind, what better time to release another version of the almost six-year-old Skyrim?
Not content with porting it to every appliance in your home, Bethesda has revealed Skyrim VR is a thing and it’s coming to HTC Vive this November.
The VR version of the game will include all the major DLC packs (so it’s basically the re-released Legendary Edition), and we’ll assume its movement system will probably function much like that of Fallout 4.
We all love Skyrim, so we suppose VR might as well get a version, too…
Ready At Dawn struck out with the beautiful yet ultimately insubstantial The Order 1886 on PS4 in 2014, so the former PSP-focused developer has instead turned its attention to the world of VR – and the results are worth getting excited over.
The studio has been working on two projects side by side – one is an Adr1ft-style thriller called Lone Echo and the other a multiplayer-focused eSports title called Echo Arena.
Echo Arena, which plays a lot like disc-flinging game from Tron, is aiming to bring the marry the two very different corners of gaming into one package and if the general reception is anything to go by, RAD might well have pulled it off.
Echo Arena will also be bundled in for free Oculus Rift, so you’ll have no excuse not to play it.
No, you’re dreaming or having an existential crisis: the best karting series of all time is coming to VR. Mario Kart Arcade GP is its name and it’s been developed by Bandai Namco with Nintendo itself giving its blessing to the project. It’s being developed on HTC and will be an arcade exclusive in Japan (at least for the foreseeable future).
Bandai Namco will be using a special seated rig that will move and react depending on your actions on the track.
Yup, you’ll be able to fling blue shells and power slide your way around Rainbow Road all in the immersive embrace of VR. What a time to be alive.
If there’s one genre that’s seemingly fitted VR like a rotted glove, it’s the spine-tingling tension of horror. With the likes of Resident Evil 7 proving both big franchises and indie titles can make fear a reality in VR, Ubisoft has read between the lines and signed a deal with Elijah Wood’s film production company, SpectreVision.
Yes, Frodo himself is working in games development now and his new game, Transference, could well be one of /the/ VR games to watch.
Wood (who also stars) reveals the game will focus on the concept of experiencing the memories of others, and how what should be harmless fun can get… well… harmful. Ubi has been on a roll at the moment, so we’re quietly excited to see where Transference goes.
Supermassive Games, the studio that came out of left-field with its choose your own adventure-style horror game Until Dawn, is back and now it’s taking its deeply unsettling brand of horror to PSVR.
The product of that unholy union is The Inpatient and it looks like one of the creepiest things we’ve seen in a headset.
Supermassive released a VR version of Until Dawn a while back, but the conversion didn’t really work so we’re hoping The Inpatient has been made with the first-person immersion of VR in mind.
Its mental asylum-set story has a real Shutter Island feel about it, so we’re expecting that trailer tension to translate with grim success to the final product.
Easily the most unusual VR game we saw unveiled at E3 2017 (mainly because it
didn't involve gore or mindless violence) was the charmingly quaint Moss.
Coming to PSVR as an exclusive title (for now, at least), Moss is a Zelda-esque adventure where you guide a plucky mouse on adventure filled with puzzles to solve and obstacles to overcome.
These logic puzzles require a team effort to solve and Moss will task you with controling little mouseketeer Quill directly as well as manipulating the environment separately so she can make her way through some beautifully animated locales.
It’s certainly different, but we think it’s definitely one to watch on PSVR.
The Walking Dead shows no sign of slowing down (even its previously forgettable TV spin-off is starting to come good), so why not bring the world of walkers to the immersive realm of virtual reality? You’ll be pleased to learn TWD creator Robert Kirkman has just signed a deal with Skydance Interactive to develop multiple VR projects set within The Walking Dead universe.
At this stage the final result could be anything, but considering how horror has essentially carried VR on its decomposed back, we’d say the there’s a lot of potential for some unsettling encounters with the shuffling undead.
Still, it can’t be any worse than The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, right? Right?
Not content with having a stab at immersive horror, Ubisoft is also taking a run at the humble arena shooter… only it’s doing it via the power of VR.
The game is called Space Junkies, and the aim of is simple – use a jetpack to zip around maps (called Orbital Arenas) that actively shift and react to your actions and movements.
It’s being developed by Ubisoft Montpellier (the same studio bringing Beyond Good And Evil 2 to life), and looks to have the same fast-paced shooter action of the criminally-underrated RIGS on PSVR.
Expect lots of weapon customisation and more with 1v1 and 2v2 modes on offer. And of course, there’s dual-wield pistols. Colour us intrigued.
- E3 is the world's largest exhibition for the games industry, stuffed full of the latest and greatest games, consoles, and gaming hardware. TechRadar is reporting live from Los Angeles all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated E3 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar's world-class analysis and buying advice about the next year in gaming.