The future is closer than ever before. Or, at least, its coming, thanks to Sonys recently announced Project Morpheus virtual reality headset and Facebooks surprising purchase of the Oculus Rift. Numerous companies have been fine-tuning the VR experience for over a year now, and the potential of the technology looks to be coming soon for gamers with Rift and Morpheus, and in a (hopefully) affordable package. We could soon be living in the future that early 90s films like Lawnmower Man promised.
Though retail headsets may not actually launch in the next year, my mind is already racing with ideas. Are developers already working on VR titles? Will the technology become popular or even standard on PS4? Will Nintendo and Microsoft be forced to jump on the VR bandwagon? There are dozens more questions to be answered, but in the end it all comes down to what youre playing, and there are eight franchises that are deserving of the VR treatment ASAP.
Though most first-person shooters would likely be enhanced by VR in some way, Battlefield has specific action movie qualities that would make an Oculus or Morpheus game awesome. Watching a skyscraper fall before your eyes as you hear bullets whiz right past your head would be intense, and given DICEs history of making gorgeous games, you know their VR-optimized Frostbite engine would look fantastic.
Plus, some of the franchises unique modes could mesh well with virtual reality. For instances, Battlefield 4s Commander Mode has a level of omniscience that could lend a sense of truly god-like power when experienced in a virtual environment. DICE wouldnt have to change much, either--the ability to hop between ally perspectives on the fly, call in airstrikes, and even just view a battle unfolding from afar would be notably enhanced by VR. It could propel the mode far out of gimmick territory, and morph it into something truly thrilling and unique.
Ive never found first-person games to be more immersive solely by virtue of their perspective, but bringing a series like Amnesia to virtual reality would probably go a long way in convincing me otherwise. Just thinking about the possibilities creeps me out--and thats exactly the feeling I want while playing it. In particular, the sanity mechanic from Amnesia: Dark Descent would make a fantastically terrifying VR pairing. Im pretty sure chucking a bunch of furniture in front of a door to keep a monster out would suddenly become a lot more compelling if it actually felt real.
Perhaps more exciting, though, would be if in-game sanity levels moved roughly in tandem with the players actual fear, which could correspond to something measurable, like your real-life heart rate. Requiring substantive calm outside the game to survive would be a challenging mental test, and though it might be asking too much of the fainthearted, itd take realism to unprecedented levels.
Metal Gear Solid
While it may not be the first series that comes to mind, virtual reality would be a smart addition to Hideo Kojimas famed stealth games. Upping the Metal Gear ante with the immersion and, well, realism VR devices allow only stands to make the games that much more mesmerizing. It could also make the series stranger moments a lot more creepy, but that seems like a fair trade-off.
Its reasonable to assume the game would be at least partially first person, and if so, PlayStation Move could be implemented for a fresher approach to gunplay. The Wii had its fair share of awesomely precise motion controlled shooters, and though calling Metal Gear a shooter is a stretch (even with a perspective change), itd likely benefit from precise VR aiming. Beyond that, sizing up areas pre-infiltration, sneaking under the cover of a cardboard box, or simply experiencing the series one-of-a-kind plot delivery up close and personal all have fantastic Morpheus potential.
Most would agree that VR BioShock would be awesome--it seems almost made for the technology. Just experiencing the dense worlds of Rapture and Columbia up lose would be worth the price of admission. And then theres the potential to use Plasmids and/or Vigors in virtual reality. Ideally, theyd be motion controlled, allowing you to actually thrust your hands and arms forward to unleash your characters powers. Itd be great to receive varied force feedback for each one; firing a stream of water would afford a dull vibration, while launching fireballs would result in quick, intense blasts.
Each ability could require a slightly different motion from the player, ultimately allowing for even more complex strings of attack than in past BioShocks. Gunplay would still be included, of course, but virtual reality would help put the emphasis on the supernatural, leaving more traditional shooter segments less heavily depended on. Gunning down foes was the least interesting part of BioShock Infinite, though seeing the blood fly in your face after a melee attack would surely spice up the standard combat.
Like BioShock, Killzone has the promise of taking first-person action even more exciting by experiencing the sci-fi world up close. And though Ive no doubt that multiplayer would be awesome, Killzone: Shadow Fall has made me pretty excited for what a virtual reality Killzone campaign mode would be like. The stealth sections of that game would certainly be improved by the VR factor, and if Guerilla Games continues to make the series more open-ended, its futuristic, war-torn stages would begin to feel less like levels and more like chunks of an actual word--something few war shooters seem able to achieve.
Not only that, but after headlining the PS4 launch, Killzone seems like a perfect match to lead the way on PS4s Morpheus. In the short term it may actually be brought to Shadow Fall itself, though Im betting wed all like to see an original Killzone title or new DLC made specifically for Sonys eyewear.
The Elder Scrolls
Skyrim in virtual reality is a painfully obvious choice. How obvious, you ask? So much so that its already been done--by radical Oculus modders, that is. And while watching somebody run on a VR treadmill like a brainwashed hamster is probably the only thing worse than seeing your own reflection in your 3DS screen, that certainly doesnt mean virtual reality Elder Scrolls wouldnt be incredibly, palpably amazing.
As seen in the above video, a companion PlayStation Move could be used for a number of different game mechanics, from pulling back to fire a bow Skyward Sword-style to actually swatting at enemies with your oversized VR weapon. As one YouTube commenter points out, a rig like this going mainstream would certainly eliminate fat gamers, though its questionable whether something that humiliating would ultimately spur strong sales. I suppose as long as you make sure no one films you flailing, theres nothing to worry about.
This would depend on an eventual VR product from Nintendo actually happening, but I couldnt resist--its too perfect. For pre HD graphics, Metroid Prime was one of the most artistically detailed games ever created, and though its begun to show its age just a hair in recent times, I cant think of anything that would reassert Primes artistic dominance more than a full-fledged virtual world. Perhaps set on Zebes? Maybe thats a tad too hopeful.
Aiming in Metroid Prime has already been mapped to the Wii Remote superbly with the third entry Corruption (and the Trilogy Wii re-release), so that can remain largely untouched. Retro Studios appear available in its post-DK state, and bringing VR to Metroid could allow the series trademark sense of dread and utter aloneness to evolve in interesting ways. Though VR might actually take those feelings too far--if Im found curled in a ball crying after a play session, youll know Nintendo made it too realistic.
Though nobody really knows what thatgamecompany is planning for their next title, it doesnt change the fact that Journey was one of the most impactful games of the last gaming generation. Personally, I found the game to be a near-religious experience, and planting myself in the shoes of the its adorable robed beings, standing in the hot desert sand would really take Journey to the next level. Id even buy a pricey VR treadmill to experience it.
In this case, its difficult to assess how the game ought to control; should it stick with the tried-and-true DualShock or adapt to the Move? Theres nothing in Journey that would really be improved by motion controls, and because you dont use weapons or even engage in combat, its really just a matter of how youre going to traverse the world. Given that much of the games charm involves simply navigating its uncommon beauty, I think being able to physically look around and traverse its world, joystick or otherwise, would be more than enough. I truly hope somebody important pitches VR Journey to Sony (if they havent already).
Getting plugged in
These games are just the beginning. Depending on Morpheus ability to catch on when it launches, we may see other franchises get the VR treatment as well--or new IPs entirely. Regardless, itll be interesting to see whether virtual reality is gamings new control paradigm, or just a passing fad of the new generation. By the looks of things, it may even work in tandem with last generations passing fad--motion controls--in many cases.
Just getting up to speed? Check out everything we know about Morpheus, and let us know which franchises you think need a VR overhaul the most.