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VR headset

Goosed bumps photo
Goosed bumps

Help R.L. Stine escape the mantis in Goosebumps virtual reality


Story of my life
Jan 25
// Steven Hansen
Did y'all know they made a Goosebumps movie last year? And that Jack Black played R.L. Stine? And that creepy lil shit dummy is in it? It just hit home video release today and with it is Goosebumps VR for iPhone and Android. ...
News roundup photo
Also included: Kirby's penis
Another week, another wave of gaming news that’s almost impossible to keep up with! Last week we had dog poo, this week we have Jonathan Blow’s wee. I kind of hope that bodily waste doesn’t become a running ...

NX VR photo
NX VR

Does the Nintendo NX need to support VR to succeed?


Or else be left in the dust
Jan 17
// Laura Kate Dale
Over a decade ago, in the far flung past of 2005, Nintendo was teasing the reveal of a new home console that was going to feature an innovative new controller. We did not know how its newest device would work, but the Interne...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

Oculus competitor HTC Vive up for pre-order on February 29


Could be more expensive than the Rift
Jan 11
// Chris Carter
The shroud of the dark side has fallen. Begun, the VR War has. Oculus came out of the gate last week with a $600 pricepoint, and its biggest competitors, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive, have yet to chime in. We're fixing to ...

Oculus photo
Oculus

Oculus exec: PlayStation VR isn't as good as Oculus


Haha ok
Jan 11
// Chris Carter
Oculus Rift exec Palmer Luckey is in full backpedal mode after unveiling the $600 consumer headset price ($1500 with a PC, for "normal people"). While the price is absolutely expected, the fact that execs previously stated th...
Oculus Rift photo
Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift boss: 'shipping a consumer product is more complex than janking out a dev kit'


Lucky for some
Jan 07
// Vikki Blake
Oculus Rift boss Palmer Luckey has apologised for suggesting that the VR product would cost “in the ballpark” of $350, admitting that he “handled the messaging poorly.” Responding to comments on a leng...
Or don't, who cares photo
Or don't, who cares

Pre-order the Oculus Rift VR headset this week


Still no price or date
Jan 04
// Steven Hansen
We still do not know how much the impending Oculus Rift virtual reality headset will cost or when it will be released, but we might know soon. Oculus just announced that the Rift will be open for pre-order this week, January ...
HTC Vive photo
HTC Vive

The HTC Vive has been improved, details at CES


They've apparently made a 'breakthrough'
Dec 20
// Mike Cosimano
Recently, Engadget published a report from an HTC Vive-centric developer forum in China that claims HTC has made a "very big technological breakthrough" on its Steam VR-powered virtual reality headset. Originally, the headset...
PlayStation VR photo
PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR comes with a 'Wii size' processor box


Notably absent from marketing
Dec 17
// Laura Kate Dale
With retail versions of VR headsets incoming over the next ten months, a lot of eyes are on Sony to start revealing more information regarding the final retail specs of its upcoming PlayStation VR headset. While much is still...

First hands-on with Crytek's newest game The Climb

Dec 15 // Steven Hansen
The Climb is simple. Once you strap into an Oculus virtual reality headset, two disembodied hands appear in front of you. Pulling the left or right triggers on the Xbox controller clenches the respective fist. "Aiming" the hand at a divot in the cliff, by way of moving your head towards where you're trying to grab, prompts the hand to appear as if it's reaching a bit more urgently, signalling to you it's ready to grab. And that's it, hand over hand, you're climbing rock. I played a course in south east Asia on easy difficulty, which only necessitates two types of grips. The most technical thing I had to do was let go with one hand and quickly grasp the same hold with the other. That and you'll want to occasionally hold the bumpers to chalk your hands so they don't start bleeding down your players' hip fitness wristband. I might be stereotyping, but I'm pretty sure it read, "YOLO" at some point. But that was it. There was some hand over hand lateral movement across a plank and a jump or two to otherwise out of reach handholds, but it's mostly about the physical intimacy of climbing up a giant rock and occasionally physically turning your head around to soak in the beautiful vista. Miles of CryEngine rendered landscape juxtaposed against surrogate fingertips. "The engine gives us that ability to do the distance, the scale, the largeness and intimacy," Crytek's Director of Production David Bowman said. Crytek came out hot in 2013 with three big releases: Crysis 3, Warface (hah!), and Ryse: Son of Rome. The first and third were sales letdowns. The second has a name that gave me immense pleasure for a year or so and might have made money in Asian and European markets where is launched sexy female soldiers. Its 2014 announcements -- a Johnny Come Lately MOBA Arena of Fate and Darksiders follow up from former Vigil employees Hunt -- have been radio silent in 2015. Its other known project is a VR game with dinosaurs. Bowman noted that Crytek is, "going to continue to make traditional great, fantastic games," but said that, "VR gives us a new toolset, a new platform, a new media that plays to our strengths. It plays right into what we do better than anybody. This is our chance to really shine." Virtual reality is an important part of Crytek's future. Where Ryse was basically an Xbox One tech demo, a piece of impressive "next gen" looks, The Climb is something like that for VR, albeit with a lot more substance than the QTE-heavy movie knockoff. Bowman calls it, "one of the premier Oculus content experiences," and says it will be released "early" in the Oculus' life cycle. "They love it," Bowman said. Oculus made a smart decision pairing its still-not-dated, still-not-priced Rift VR headset with a strong piece of software in EVE: Valkyrie. The Climb may not have that pack-in position, but Bowman says the simplicity is what will sell VR to a wider audience. "The approachability of this, we have really high hopes for it as far as bringing in people who might not consider themselves gamers. And if you are a gamer, there's a lot of sport here. It's free climb solo. That level of danger in real life means you're not going to go out and do it probably yourself, but here you have this extreme sport that's now accessible to you. "What every hardware platform needs is that application that you can say, 'Hey, I bought this, I have fun with it, and now I'm sharing it with my friends and family, and I feel good about it because they're able to appreciate it.' And now all of a sudden they're going, 'I had fun doing that, so I'm going to buy one,' and it tends to snowball. That's how hardware adoption happens." And while Bowman maintains Crytek will continue to make "traditional" games, the company has, "probably the largest VR team, the largest that I'm aware of anyway." "We're trying to position Cryengine to be the best toolchain to work in VR," Technical Director Rok Erjavec added. More people using the engine for good VR experiences increases the likelihood of VR somehow catching on where something like 3D has failed. "2016: Early adopters. 2017: Friends and family of those early adopters going, 'I want one too,'" Bowman said. "By 2019, I'm saying this is going to be one of those ways you access all sorts of experiences, not just games, but data in general. We want to be riding that curve, that wave." It starts with The Climb. "When we started doing climbing originally during our tech demos...we realized, 'Hey, this is fun. This a fun thing to do, just inherently." It took some time to get there, of course. The Climb started with a full pair of disembodied arms, but testers of different size felt out of sorts with the one-size-fits-all proportions, so the team lopped the arms off and reduce the interface to floating hands.  "We thought it'd be really fun to fall and hit the rocks and bounce and stuff. Man that makes you so sick. Don't do that." The sweet spot for falling -- to put that knot in players' stomachs without leaving them retching -- turned out to be 2.3 seconds of freefall and then a fade to black. "A lot of our developers and our QA team, god bless them, they have had to endure some really fun experimentation," Bowman said. He was cagey on how many staffers puked, but noted that during early prototyping, the team had to account for the fact that a developer might have to get out of the thing after about an hour of work due to nausea. Now, level designers work in the visor all day. "We had people run to the bathroom, though." Well, if anyone did puke during those early phases of prototyping, it's between them and their porcelain god. Bowman was cagey on just how much stuff would appear in The Climb, too. "We have a set amount of content and we're well under control as far as delivering that...and we're going to be expanding that content hopefully in the future as well," is all I got when I asked about different regions, or weather conditions. As for changes to the time of day, "absolutely." Beyond the physical interaction and varying locales, the team seems excited for the latent speed run and otherwise competitive angle to satiate the hardcore or give greener climbers something to keep them coming back.  To that end, VR does offer technically bombastic experiences pared down in a way that "non-gamers" might find appealing without being patronizing -- like I said, The Climb was simple, but plenty of fun. "When I put a strange controller in your hand and say, 'Okay, I need you to press this combination of buttons,' you've instantly alienated a lot of people," Bowman said. The Climb also supports touch controllers and features a, "solution set that works for a variety of different input devices," so hopefully we'll be bringing you Donkey Konga free climb speed run videos next year. As for other simple experiences that turned out to be "inherently fun" in VR that Crytek might want to explore? "Can't talk about them yet because we're going to use them."
Preview: The Climb photo
Crytek goes in with engaging VR
Is free solo climbing cool? I'm sure there's been some virality in its danger in the YouTube era, but we've had, what, Cliffhanger, which was more about guns and biceps than cliff hanging, and then the arbitrary opening Missi...

Free EVE: Valkyrie photo
Free EVE: Valkyrie

Oculus Rift pre-orders come bundled with one of the best VR games


Free EVE: Valkyrie plus hint at release
Dec 10
// Steven Hansen
If you want to sell VR, you need the ardent early adopters to show it off and the people they show it off to to be impressed. To that end, it helps to have some dang good software support, so it makes sense that EVE: Valkyrie...

The coolest thing about VR space dogfights? The menus

Dec 10 // Steven Hansen
You can start a game, look behind you at the space bar, head to the hangar to look at your ships and "pimp your rides." I went with gaudy army camo all day, even though there are no trees in space, unless you consider trees on planets to be in space, technically. The hangar is where you peruse your ships and pick your four options in the Launch Tube (basically loadouts chosen when you respawn). There are Fighter, Heavy, and newly shown off Support ships. [embed]325655:61472:0[/embed] The latter can shoot spherical webs into space. If your enemies fly through them, they get debuffed and vision obscured by nanobot spiders on the cockpit; if your friendlies fly through, they help them out. The supports ended up being the higher-scoring ships in most of the games we played, which went from team deathmatch to an objective capturing mode wherein you deploy drones to capture one of three points, rather than needing to hover in place, freeing you up to continue on. Or you destroy enemy drones and deploy your own. But the drones have a cool down upon destruction, so loosing one and leaving it unprotected might not be the best idea. EVE: Valkyrie has no single-player, but it does have PvE introductory segments that focus on the backstory as well. There are short objective modes, a free-fly just for zooming around learning maps and maneuvers, and a survival mode with increasing AI waves. Given its eSports ambitions, the team is pulling the old, easy to learn, whereas, "over a period of months you can be a master." There are also ships to unlock and ways to mix the three classes. Progression milestones unlock blueprints, and there are overall Pilot Reputations as well as class breakdown. Once you land a blueprint, new ships are paid for in salvage, which is collected from dead opponents during matches and split evenly between all players and differentiated into three rarity types. Aside from gaudy army camo, you can also customize the UI colors, cockpit controls, and other aspects from the first-person view you'll spend most of your time in. The flying is smooth and simple, with a boost and barrel roles mapped to the triggers. Looking around the cockpit rather than straight down the sights will help you keep track of enemies zipping around in vast 3D space, and the lock-on missiles are actually mapped to where you're looking to encourage you to keep your head on a swivel and allow you to lock on to opponents just by line of sight. Plus, it's pretty neat to look down at my surrogate mannequin VR body and suddenly have boobs. While sensitivities will vary, I was happy that could spend over an hour ensconced in VR without issue. And the partnership with Oculus to launch with all Rift pre-orders is a smart one on both accounts: Oculus gets software to sell the very idea of VR while Valkyrie ensures a more robust early player-base.
EVE: Valkyrie preview photo
Hands-on, eyes-on with EVE: Valkyrie
EVE: Valkyrie has been one of the best full-game showings for virtual reality (versus novel tech demos, which are still my favorite use of VR) for a while now and as we edge towards the early 2016 wave of VR release (Rift, Vi...

HTC Vive photo
7000 dev kits to launch in the New Year
Valve and HTC's VR headset, the HTC Vive, finally has an official release date: April 2016. As made clear by the blog post announcing the launch window, this isn’t a second wave of dev kits (those are coming in the New ...

Virtual Reality photo
Virtual Reality

Samsung's $99 Gear VR headset out now in US


International release to follow
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Oculus and Samsung's $99 Gear VR headset is now available in the United States. The attractive price point comes with one caveat: the device is only compatible with this year's line of Samsung smartphones (the Galaxy Not...
MapleStory photo
MapleStory

MapleStory is getting a VR game for some reason


Whatever, I'm open minded
Nov 11
// Joe Parlock
When I was younger, I always confused 2D anime MMO MapleStory with other 2D anime MMO Gaia Online. I wasn't a particularly bright kid. MapleStory had a cool idea by mixing up normal MMO trappings by making the...
RIGS photo
RIGS

Here's the newest trailer for PlayStation VR's RIGS Mechanized Combat League


Sports game meet mechs meets my drool
Oct 27
// Joe Parlock
As one of the eight games for the PlayStation VR, Sony have unveiled the latest trailer for RIGS Mechanized Combat League. RIGS  is a weird mix of sports game and mech FPS, set in 2065. It's got the over the top sports ...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Square Enix plans to remake a lot of old games


Let's get milking
Oct 21
// Laura Kate Dale
Back at E3 this year, Square Enix announced probably the most-requested remake from the company's back catalog, a remake of Final Fantasy VII. According to a recently released annual report, Final Fantasy VII is just the star...
Valve photo
Valve

Wait, most people have PCs in their bedrooms?


Haha what
Oct 15
// Chris Carter
According to an informal survey published by Valve (consisting of over 2,000 participants) to research VR viewing habits, most people have their PCs in their bedroom. The next most popular option is the living room, and after...

Underwater VR in Narcosis might wreck my shit

Oct 05 // Zack Furniss
Oculus Connect 2 was simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking for me. Sure, I'd be able to step into worlds I could hardly fathom, but one of those worlds was the bottom of the gods-damned sea. Scrambling from a prior appointment to the event's seventh floor, I came across the room that contained Honor Code's Narcosis. Steven and Alessandro had both spent time with the demo at previous events, but it was my turn to explore the depths of his survival horror experience. I knocked on the door, expecting someone named Lawrence (making the rookie mistake of confusing the PR person for the game developer). When an excitable, charismatic Frenchman named Quentin opened the door, I started to apologize and walk away, thinking I had intruded on someone's private quarters. He assured me I was in the right place and led me to a computer, placing the Oculus Rift on my head and an Xbox One controller in my hands. The Los Angeles fire-air threatened to break my immersion from the start, but I wanted to be afraid, and I tried to block out my surroundings as best as I could. Another developer from Honor Code, the measured and engaging David Chen, came in as I was adjusting to the controls. They both made sure I understood how to maneuver my diver and then respectfully remained quiet as I made my way through an aquatic facility. Since you're wearing a helmeted diving suit, the Rift feels thematically appropriate. Having this gadget on your head is less distracting and more of a natural extension. Being able to lean forward and see oxygen gauges just beneath your eyes helps you accept you're really in this environment. I was peeking around corners as I approached them, sure that some ungodly being, whatever was responsible for the flooding of this base, was going to drag me even further into the depths. My demo was largely similar to the one Alessandro saw, though I spent more time slowly wading through a cave infested with long-limbed crabs the size of cars. I launched flares at them, watching them flinch into the darkness. How I hated having to slowly approach them to sidle past them to progress. Wandering around the sea floor is what messed with me most, though. Looking up and having no ceiling (be it cement or stalactites) to protect me was all it took for the stomach-eels return. I could no longer just stare ahead and keep progressing; I was turning around to make sure nothing was chasing me every few steps. Heat-induced sweat on my brow and the acute awareness that I was alone in a room with two men I didn't know was enough to keep me from full immersion, but if I had been at home, I'm not sure how I'd fare. An hour of wandering through sea caves as murderous cuttlefish tried to latch onto my face might be enough to break me. Coupled with the "Narcosis Moments" that the developers mentioned (hallucinations stemming from oxygen deprivation), I might not survive long enough to write about this again. But as much as digital submersion frightens me, finishing these games is my way of conquering this bizarre fear. I hope to play Narcosis when it releases next year for the entertainment, horror, and catharsis it could bring me.
Narcosis photo
Digital submersion is my one true fear
The ocean has never been particularly terrifying to me. Contemplating on a beach and staring at the blue sprawl fills me with a sense of calm, not horror. Snorkeling in a Hawaiian crater was one of the awe-inspiring mome...

Virtual reality photo
Virtual reality

Oculus Rift will be 'at least $300'


Higher end of previous price range
Sep 29
// Steven Hansen
Forget possible implementation and motion sickness: the hill to climb for VR acceptance is paying hundreds of dollars for a goofy ass pair of goggles. It's not like smart phones, where increased functionality was mapped on to...
No more motion sick photo
No more motion sick

Valve: If VR makes you sick, it's the developer's fault


Blame the carpenter, not the tools
Sep 28
// Steven Hansen
Fear of motion sickness and living room ruining vomit is one of the sticking points surrounding the definitely-happening-and-not-at-all-actually-unlikely VR revolution. And while I kind of dislike the relative sensory depriva...

Virtual reality never worked for me until I got to try the HTC Vive

Sep 28 // Joe Parlock
It’s worth noting at this point that this was the second day of a very loud, badly-lit event, and I was absolutely knackered. My eye was about as bad as it could be without being totally blind, and so I was in the prime condition to try and prove Valve wrong with its absolutist claims. I even took my glasses off, I was so ready to catch them out. I was getting ready to feign interest in the game as the goggles were lowered over my head. I’d had practice with the Rift after all: politely try and finish the demo and contain my disappointment at yet another bad VR experience. But as my eyes adjusted to looking out into space, I realised that holy shit... It worked. Me and my janky eye (powered purely by the godawful energy drink they were handing out to EGX visitors) were able to actually enjoy VR for the very first time. It was strangely emotional, looking around with nigh-on perfect head tracking and seeing a whole world which wasn’t the one I was sat in. I’ve heard plenty of reactions to using the Vive: people crying, people shaking, but it felt different to me. A part of me was impressed with the technology, but a bigger part of me was relieved that my condition maybe hasn’t precluded me from the VR future after all. I couldn’t quite breathe, and every time I managed to talk it was peppered with swearing and “oh my god”s. Those reactions were not earned by the game itself, as fun as Elite may be I had no god damn idea what I was doing, but by how VR had just been opened up to me at last after spending the last year convinced I would have to let it pass me by. I found myself completely immersed in my little spaceship, and I totally forgot about the huge convention going on just outside that room. I wasn’t in that small, cramped booth any more, I was in space. I would try and find the enemy by leaning over the back of my chair (and almost falling off), the HUDs of the spaceship flickering on as I turned to look at them… it wasn’t the small cinema experience I’d had with the Rift, and it wasn’t blurry even without my glasses. It was the VR experience I had built up in my head during the last year of people bragging about it to me, and holy fuck it worked. After Laura and I had played Elite on the Vive, all I could really do was stare at her in disbelief. I had felt slightly left out when she reacted in the exact same way ten minutes before, when coming out of the previous demo. There was a weird mix of “holy fuck that tech is amazing” and “holy fuck that tech works for me.” I was still thinking about it well into playing other games throughout the day. So while I can’t really confirm or deny Valve’s claim the Vive works for everyone, I can confirm it worked for me, the guy who even blue-red 3D glasses don’t work for. The Vive’s technology is amazing for everyone who’s at all interested in virtual reality I’m sure, and for VR connoisseurs it’s probably the best headset currently in development, but that doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just relieved something finally works for me. Thanks, Valve. You’ve done well with this. Remember, you can read Laura’s impressions on the HTC Vive too. She’s got way more experience with VR than I do, and she still thinks the Vive is a game changer.
HTC Vive photo
Me and my broken eye were in space
A long time ago, Valve and HTC boasted that their upcoming VR headset -- the HTC Vive if you’ve somehow managed to miss it -- would cause nausea for "zero percent of players." That sort of absolute statement got me inte...

The HTC Vive is an absolute VR game changer

Sep 28 // Laura Kate Dale
[embed]312714:60520:0[/embed] Over the past few months I've heard people evangelizing the leap in technology that the Vive represents. Stories of developers crying, journalists shaking, and the general public speechless. I went into my hands on demo with the Vive dubious. I came out a shaken, crying, speechless VR evangelist. So, where to start. I was brought by a couple of staff members into a large, square, empty room. A small computer sat tucked away in one corner. Otherwise, the roughly 12-square-foot room I was in was completely empty. Before trying out the headset, I was handed a pair of controllers and shown how they worked. The controllers featured a pair of clickable track pads on top, triggers underneath, and a weird angular antenna on top to facilitate 1:1 motion controls. Oddly, considering how closely I had been following the Vive, this was the first time I had actually seen the Vive's dedicated motion controllers. Once I had a handle on the controller layout, I was told to put on the headset. Much like the competition, it's a single set of elasticated and solid straps that's fitted by sliding it simply over the top of your head. The Vive was by far the most comfortable of the VR headsets I have worn to date, although it lacked the retail Oculus' built-in headphones. As a result I also had to find the pair of external headphones once the set was covering my eyes, ensuring they were on the correct ears so that sounds would emanate from the correct locations. This is a very real drawback to headsets without built-in headphones. Straight away, as soon as the demo selection screen was booted up, I could see that the Vive was going to be a step above the competition. The 1:1 motion tracking of the pair of controllers was superb, with no disconnect whatsoever between where my brain new my hands were, and where it could see them in game. Head tracking was unbelievably fast and responsive, and I had no issues at all with needing the headset centered. Everything was working flawlessly right off the bat. The first demo shown off had me stood on the deck of a sunken ship underwater. I could walk around the deck by walking around the room, with a checkered grid of blue lights appearing if I got too close to the physical edges of the room. I wandered around the ship touching fish, interacting with the ship using my hands, and eventually stood face to face with a whale, who followed me with his eyes as I walked around the deck.  I looked down off the edge of the ship into the dark chasm below, and I felt a pang of terror flood my system, quickly stepping back from the sense of height. This first Vive demo was the first time I have found myself truly immersed in a VR world, an experience best equated to a Star Trek Holodeck. I was walking around a world, interacting in a way that felt tangible. I felt a physical connection between my body's movements and the world I was exploring. I truly felt like I was exploring another world. This connection to the game world was in part due to the impressive tracking of my body in 3D space, but also in part just down to the technical specs of the device. The resolution was crisp, the field of view was wide with minimal visible edges, the audio was coming from the right locations relative to my position in the world, and everything was responsive enough to avoid pulling me from the world. This was everything VR immersion could hope to be. Over the course of the following thirty minutes, I explored a number of virtual worlds. I built machines out of physical parts, stretching them to fit my needs and slotting them into each other. I finely chopped vegetables and put them in a pan to make soup. I drew physical waves of glowing art into the air and explored them from differing angles. I was drawn into a virtual space that felt unbelievably real to me. I even explored an Aperture Science lab and caused untold havoc. Then, I had to remove the headset. It dawned on me I was in an empty room. It dawned on me I had spent the past half an hour wandering in circles around an empty room. It dawned on me those experiences, which had felt so real, were gone from the room that had been my escape from the busy, loud, stressful convention that once again surrounded me. I found myself shaken in a way VR had not previously left me. This was a game changer. With all this said, the experience I had with the Vive left me dubious if that same magic could be captured in a consumer setting. As stunning and immersive as the experience was, I could see the places where a home VR experience is likely not to stack up. The demos shown were all set in set-piece environments that were single square boxes, which limits the experiences available to the player. Most consumers don't have an empty room in their homes that's as large as this room was available to use as a dedicated VR room, which it currently feels like the Vive would need. The encouragement to walk around the room also meant I had to constantly be aware of the cable attached to the back of my own head and trailing behind me on the floor. These are all serious barriers to replicating the experience I had in a home setting. Still, I walked away from my time in the Vive headset sold that a Holodeck-esque VR future is attainable. The experience I had was the first time a video game has ever truly made me forget the physical world around me, immersing me entirely in a new set of worlds I felt unbelievably connected to. Compared to my demo experiences with the Oculus and PlayStation VR, my demo of the HTC Vive felt like something in an entirely different league. If only that were an experience I could bring home and replicate.
Valve VR photo
The demo left me shaking like mad
A few months back at E3, I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on both the retail version of the Oculus Rift, as well as the PlayStation VR, back then known as the Morpheus. As a big fan of VR in theory, if dubious ab...

I used the Oculus Rift to high-five a dead alien in Surgeon Simulator

Sep 27 // Zack Furniss
The Oculus Connect 2 event felt very rushed, so I hurried to my demo appointment for some hands-on time with the Rift. A Hollywood-looking Oculus employee charmingly asked what type of genre I wanted to start with. "Horror," I quickly blurted out, anxiously wanting to experience some spooky VR. He looked taken aback, and quietly said "Well, we don't -- well, I guess aliens are scary..." and booted up Surgeon Simulator. It's not what I would have picked, but I went with it anyway. After fitting the headset onto my noggin and the Oculus Touch controllers onto my meathooks, I opened my eyes and found myself aboard a space station. There was an extraterrestrial splayed out on a table, its midsection an open maw hungry for my hands and tools. Beyond the corpse was a window peering out into the void of space. Glancing about the room, I took stock of what surgical instruments I would require. I needed to remove an explosive, glowing orb from the alien's stomach before it destroyed the station. As I used my real-life hands to direct their in-game counterparts towards my first tool, Hollywood began recommending I grab the bonesaw. I turned my head in his general direction (remember there was a whole reality between him and I) and told him "Quiet, nurse. I am the doctor now." I heard a combination of a grunt and a giggle and continued on my way. I grabbed a hatchet and began cutting into the alien. Again, he protested and I cut him off with a "Shhh..." I let go of the hatchet and realized I was in a zero-g environment. It casually drifted away from me as I turned to my next tool, a four-pointed device that looked like a shuriken. With all my might, I flung it into the alien's stomach(?) and watched as it began ricocheting off of the various surfaces in the room. Glass was now floating all around me, but I waved it away in annoyance. Next, I grabbed a clock and started smashing it into the alien just to see what would happen. All that happened was a mess that I told Nurse Hollywood to clean up when we were done. Time was beginning to run short, and I begrudgingly reached for the bonesaw. I hacked into the ribcage-looking protusion and used both hands to grab the orb, and chucked it out the garbage shoot. It drifted outside the window and exploded non-chalantly. To celebrate, I grabbed my alien friend's cold (I assume) dead hand with my left hand, and gave him a high five with the right. His hand drifted back slowly and without purpose, and Nurse Hollywood, sounding quite afraid, whispered "What just happened? Did you just..." And I nodded triumphantly. I took off the headset and handed it back to the wide-eyed man who wasn't sure what he had just watched. The combination of the Oculus Rift and Touch lent Surgeon Simulator more presence, and it helped me role-play (something I don't really do outside of D&D) even with a stranger staring at me the whole time. Something about shutting out the rest of the world makes you feel more involved, though it's tough to ignore outside factors. That's why Nurse Hollywood became one of my surgical instruments; if I was going to look ridiculous in front of him, he was going to be part of it, dammit. 
Surgeon Simulator photo
Up high! Down low! ...Alien?
Surgeon Simulator is the type of game that easily lends itself to stories. The precise mechanics involved provide anecdotes wherein each player can fondly recall specific moments of their playthrough. Though my time as a...

Bullet Train is the ultimate 10-minute light gun game

Sep 27 // Zack Furniss
My brief time with Bullet Train had me equipped with and Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The Touch had a pleasant heft to it that I wasn't expecting, and it didn't do that weird clicksquish thing that some controllers do when you squeeze them. A cheery Oculus representative gave me a brief tutorial as the demo began, but her instructions made it seem more complicated than it actually was. I began on a moving subway. An authoritative man spoke to me through the headset, telling me that as an agent, I needed to become acquainted with teleportation technology. Using a face button on the controller in my left hand, I could simultaneously slow down time and aim at a (Oculus) rift and quickly warp through space. After this, I was taught how to pick up weapons (by using a button near my ring and middle fingers with either hand), which felt natural in a way I hadn't anticipated. Since teleporting and dudeshooting are all I was going to be doing, I was ready. Fwiiiish. The subway doors slide open, the two pistols in my hands becoming deleterious paintbrushes capable of crossing out whoever I came across. I dilated time, various rifts opening for me, beckoning for me with large text decrying SHOTGUN or GRENADES, as if I was window shopping for more murderous methods. Like an inexperienced lover, I initially chose to deal death in the most simple yet effective ways I knew how. Point, shoot, teleport, repeat. Once I acclimated to not having traditional movement, I realized that without the use of my feet, it was up to my hands to bring satisfaction to this gunfight. Some of the best first-person shooters are about circle-strafing, jumping, positioning -- the spaces in between every trigger pull -- but Bullet Train doesn't occupy that same space. Here, it's about holding a pistol in one hand and a pump-action shotgun in the other, firing each, then slowing time to throw the pistol into the air, racking the action of said shotgun, catching the pistol, and resuming the bullet buffet. These moments are what make Bullet Train work. Racking a shotgun with one hand à la Terminator 2. Freezing time, pinching bullets, and flicking them at your enemies. Snatching rockets out of the air and flinging them back at the flying robot boss. Unloading pistols at two enemies and then dispatching a third by hurling your guns at him. It'd all make you feel incredibly cool if there wasn't someone holding a cable attached to your head. If I was at home, I'd probably be barking out horrible one-liners with a dumb grin on my face. What doesn't work is that the teleporting is disorienting, but not in the way one usually associates with the Oculus Rift. While everything felt incredibly intuitive (and I didn't get sick), teleporting doesn't make you face the direction you're pointing toward. The rifts are basically set up in a circle so that you can fight the steady trickle of men as they spawn in the center of the room. But something about teleporting across the room and abruptly turning around doesn't feel right. I don't think warping is the solution to fast-paced movement in all first-person games. It gives Bullet Train a Time Crisis feel, which isn't necessarily a negative, but would make it difficult to play something like this for longer than a few hours. I simultaneously hope this concept develops into something more refined, but also pray it isn't the template other studios follow. At Oculus Connect 2, I heard attendees complaining Bullet Train was getting too much attention when virtual reality has the potential to be a portal to so many different worlds. To me, first-person shooters were inevitably going to be a highlight for goggles that can take you to alternate dimensions. So long as we see these places through prisms other than down the barrel of a gun, I don't see the harm in highly-polished festivals of testosterone. P.S. Here's a bonus of picture, Rift-clad and full of sex appeal:
Bullet Train photo
Be a badass for 10 minutes
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