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Day Three at E3 2014: Is Virtual Reality for Real?

by Eric Smith | 6月 12, 2014

Though I had a lot of interesting discussions and briefings at E3 (to be covered in a separate written insight soon), and had the opportunity to play some very beautiful and innovative console games to be released in the months to come, I wanted to briefly touch on VR at the show.

I had the chance to demo Hot Shot on Oculus Rift, now owned by Facebook. It was a very simple game with a simple mission: Walk down a hall while dodging bullets, pick up a gun, and shoot your enemies. The graphics were nothing spectacular. The room was black and white with red bullet trails and enemies. Despite this very simple display, the experience was so immersive and captivating that I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It was also a very disorienting experience, especially noticeable walking around after the five-minute demo I got. There were several other games available for play and it should be noted that Oculus does need to connect to a PC for processing power.

Across the show floor, I was able to try out Sony’s Project Morpheus, connected to a PlayStation 4. I played Street Luge and The Deep, which both had very similar immersive qualities, but I must say that The Deep was truly amazing. Even though I knew I was playing a game of sea exploration in a shark cage, I felt a physiological fear response that I don’t think is possible on a traditional gaming platform. I was shooting my flare gun at the shark for fun while it swam around me, but once it ripped the door off the cage, I found myself standing very still, not shooting, and really hoping the shark would just swim away.

Developers with whom I spoke seemed very excited about having the opportunity to be trail blazers on this new platform as opposed to writing the next iteration of a first-person shooter. The VR developer is free to nearly remove the controller from the equation and really focus on the player’s point-of-view as the main control within the game. The head-tracking abilities of both systems are key to the immersive experience, and Project Morpheus builds on that by tracking the movements of the DualShock4 and Move controllers.

Needless to say, VR is not going to enjoy significant consumer success in the next 12 to 18 months. Price will be a massive hurdle for any device vendor to clear in the consumer market. A stable of content or at least a few must-play games on the platform will also be crucial in attracting interest. I get the impression that developers are still experimenting with what relevant applications VR can have in gaming as opposed to just throwing any type of game into a VR headset and expecting it to be fun or functional in this new medium. Finally, solutions for movies, training, and health are just a few examples of the wide reach that VR could play outside the gaming world once the technology is further refined.

Virtual Boy, this is not.

- Eric Smith

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