It goes without saying that gaming as a whole has made colossal leaps in improving the gaming experience every now and then – and Virtual Reality (VR) is no exception.
It quite simply is the biggest ‘next big thing’ to come out of the industry for some time, and there’s no doubt it will be even bigger as time marches on with the biggest players in the industry either releasing a headset, or announcing their intention to do so in the next few years. There are likely to be a whole host of innovations surrounding VR – leaving gamers with the dilemma of which bit of kit to pick up! Here, we take a look at the trends in VR and what could be brought to the table in the next 12 months.
Building on VR technology that already exists
At present, in the VR world of gaming, the only device you can use is a headset. This can either be attached to your gaming console, or your mobile device (Samsung’s headset fits a Samsung phone) as the visual and audio component. There still remains a whole host of different types of hardware you can use to play a VR game, such as PlayStation, Wii, XBOX and Desktop Computers. The headsets all currently fit just over your eyes, not yet do they cover your nose or your ears – the players involved in creating these devices do say that this will change and become the normal in the future.
The other key players currently on release are Oculus, HTC, Google and Sony – each arguably the dominant force in their own niche industry, and with high stakes to play for, the competition is going to clearly be incredibly fierce.
The Future of Gaming
The industry itself, besides VR is always growing; as new generation of gamers are born and the current gamers just seem to grow a little bit older. Gaming has now become part of a lot of people’s lives and that is not likely to change any time soon; in fact, with the introduction of VR into the gaming community, it is only going to grow stronger, and even potentially affect those who have not even played a video game in their lives.
Augmented Reality Bites
When you start to talk about the likes of Augmented Reality (AR) in combination to VR, as opposed to just VR on its own; you are entering a whole new realm of experience, not just for games, but for everyday life. Therefore, the initial steps that are being taken in the gaming industry are so important, as they are more and more likely to creep into everyday lives such as work, travel, recreation. With AR involved, even consuming food and drinking could become part of the experience.
The most common and popular types of game to play now are MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Even if the main plot of the game itself does not involve cooperation from other players, game developers are creating an alternative gameplay where others can be involved too. This means either playing with your friends or people you do not even know outside of the game portal. The breakthrough MMORPG game is arguably Halo on XBOX; this game brought a whole experience of fighting each other on different teams into a whole new level of popularity – so much so they’ve made many movies using Halo as the plotline.
Even now you find soccer games that have been traditionally two player online experiences, becomes up to 22 players actually controlling each player on the pitch on their own, literally contributing to the game on an individual basis. Now add a headset into that equation along with smells and tastes of the environment, and you might as well be the one kicking the ball.
The VR experience has become so popular, that even picture houses are deciding to take advantage of the popularity to promotes their movies, such as Assassins Creed – the game was created by Ubisoft, but the movie has been produced by Regency Enterprises. To promote the movie’s release in December 2016, 20th Century Fox (the Distributor) and Regency Enterprises launched the VR experience that was promising to take its viewers deep into the world of the Spanish Inquisition. This is the plot of the movie, and the experience works by attempting to place you in the eyes of the main character in the movie.
The experience on VR was made available to Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear users for free on the Oculus Video application on December 1st. From December 2nd to January 1st 2017 in Los Angeles, Austin and New York City, the experience was made available to cinema-goers in Oculus demo kiosks each powered by Alienware’s new Aurora PC equipped with AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics cards, which can be found here. Alienware says its new rig was engineered to exceed the requirements of today’s VR games and video experiences.
Too close for comfort?
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is scary enough on a television screen, but try to imagine it right up in your face. According to the game’s official website, over 80,000 gamers have opted to play the new Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in virtual reality, this was nearly 10% of all players playing the game at that time, 80,000 is a massive number and will continue to grow as the industry does with it. People go to the cinema to feel involved with what they’re watching, the surrounding area is dark, there is little or no noise; so, you’d be forgiven to think for a few minutes you were there in that environment. Playing a game on a console is very likely to contain natural light and noise in your peripheral vision and hearing; but using VR appears to create a larger gap for the users wanting to be immersed in the game itself.
It looks very much like VR is going to take a very big step in becoming a part of the gaming community, and those who choose to not be involved will most likely be left behind as the potential with this particular gaming experience is nothing like ever before.
The potential for AR to be involved is something to not be forgotten easily, and if you can hear, see, smell, and taste your game – what could possibly be next?!