So I’m sitting in the pilot’s seat of the USS Aegis, looking out across the Perisph galaxy. It’s one of many moments of quiet in a PlayStation VR demo of Star Trek: Bridge Crew, where the best bits allow me to just gaze out across the stars – a far more fascinating scenario than when I’m inevitably attacked by the Klingons.
Violence is one of gaming’s oldest mechanics. Everything from good old GTA to the alien-bothering sim No Man’s Sky uses it as a way to engage players and add depth to the worlds they create. This isn’t to say that they’re composed of nothing but violence, but it’s a strong foundation for the bulk of our experiences.
When the Klingons attack in Star Trek, I’m sucked out of immersing myself in a landscape that could only be achievable in VR and I’m back to merely playing a game. An enjoyable and meticulously detailed game, sure, but one that relies on the tricks of the past to try and satisfy you.
VR doesn’t need to look backwards. Its greatest strength at the moment is physically placing you in worlds that demand scouring exploration. Take the moment in Batman: Arkham VR where you descend into the Batcave and gawp at all the tiny, incidental details that mean so much to hardcore Bat-fans, or wandering the iconic halls of Croft Manor in Rise Of The Tomb Raider. They’re so memorable because the depth comes from being closer to a virtual world than ever before.
That’s not the only issue with violence and VR. Sony Entertainment president Shuhei Yoshida previously talked to us about London Heist, saying: “You could point your gun at yourself. That felt wrong. It was too stressful, so they removed it.” Developers need to ensure players don’t feel unintentionally panicked. Hopefully, this means eschewing combat for something that wouldn’t be achievable without PS VR.
No, I don’t want every PS VR game to involve gawping at landscapes. Yes, I’m excited for the family terrorising me in Resident Evil VII. But PS VR’s first few years are the best chance for developers to move away from the crutch of violence, and start pursuing different mechanics for once.
This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here (opens in new tab).