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Virtual Reality

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...

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
The other day at Oculus Connect 2, Epic Games announced its newest VR demo, Bullet Train. Instead of a simulation following legislators dealing with the political red tape surrounding the bullet train between Los Angeles to S...

Adr1ft photo

Adr1ft will be an Oculus Rift launch game

Delayed to Q1 2016
Sep 24
// Jordan Devore
Stranded in space, alone, and low on oxygen. That's the setup for Adr1ft, a nerve-wracking exploration game in development at Three One Zero. It's now releasing in Q1 2016 for PC. As revealed alongside today's Oculus Rift dev...
Minecraft x Oculus photo
Minecraft x Oculus

Minecraft is coming to Oculus Rift after all

Even if Notch thinks Facebook is creepy
Sep 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at Oculus Connect 2 in Los Angeles, company founder and Rift inventor Palmer Luckey announced Minecraft's Windows 10 Edition will support the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.  The move represents an about face ...
Gear VR photo
Gear VR

Samsung unveils new Oculus-powered $99 Gear VR

Cheaper, lighter, and more comfortable
Sep 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Today at the Oculus Connect 2 conference in Los Angeles, Samsung Mobile Senior Vice President of Technology Strategy Peter Koo unveiled the company's next generation of Gear VR headsets. Koo stated the device will b...
Among the Sleep photo
Among the Sleep

Among the Sleep is dropping VR support

'Feels horrible in VR'
Sep 22
// Laura Kate Dale
Among the Sleep is one of those video games I love in theory, even if not in execution. A first person horror game where you play a small infant exploring a spooky house with a living teddy bear, the game was creepy in all th...
Land's End photo
Land's End

Too bad I won't be able to play Land's End

VR adventure from Monument Valley devs
Sep 21
// Jordan Devore
Monument Valley is a good game for good people. Its creator Ustwo Games is prepping its next project, a first-person virtual-reality adventure, for release on October 30, 2015. But the thing is, it's only coming to Samsung's ...
Morpheus photo

Morpheus, sorry, PlayStation VR, has my attention

But not my money, yet
Sep 18
// Chris Carter
This week at TGS, I finally had a chance to try out Sony's take on VR. Newly christened "PlayStation VR," the headset is sleek and flashy, and rumors suggest that it will be sold for a cheaper price than its competitors. Of c...
Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Tekken team's Summer Lesson returns for TGS

VR demo for PlayStation 4
Sep 15
// Jordan Devore
Summer Lesson is a "VR character communication demo" for Project Morpheus (now simply PlayStation VR) developed by the Tekken team. There's a new trailer out of Tokyo Game Show. Unlike Josh, I will probably never interact wit...
Playstation VR photo
Playstation VR

RIP Morpheus, long live Playstation VR

The name change finally happened
Sep 15
// Laura Kate Dale
The Sony PS4 Morpheus VR headset today saw a name change. Say goodbye to Morpheus, and say hello to the very plainly named Playstation VR. Yep, that's a pretty straightforward and self-explanatory name that tells people what the product is. Still no release date, but now we know it has an official name as a market product at least. 
Gmod photo

Garry's Mod is getting a virtual reality-focused sequel

Not called Garry's Mod 2
Sep 10
// Joe Parlock
Garry’s Mod is getting a sequel after almost ten years. In an interview with PCGamesN, Facepunch founder Garry Newman said a follow-up was in the works, with the intention of it making use of VR technology: …I m...
Microsoft photo

Ex-Xbox boss: 'I think there will be another generation' of consoles

But what would it look like?
Sep 08
// Vikki Blake
Former Xbox boss, Robbie Bach, believes that there will be another generation of consoles... but they probably won't look, or operate, much like they do today.  Talking to Geekwire, Bach -- who was head of Xbox for ...

Kona is a hauntingly beautiful survival adventure

Sep 02 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]308447:60214:0[/embed] Set in the wilderness of Northern Canada during the early 1970s, you play as private detective Carl Faubert as he investigates the mysterious events occurring at a remote village of Atamipek Lake. What starts as simple job of finding the unknown culprits behind the vandalism of private property, it soon becomes apparent that things are not what they seem and Carl finds himself in a whole mess of danger. With nearly the entire population of the town missing -- along with wild animals looking for their next meal -- he'll have to rely on his wits and resourcefulness in order to survive mother nature's cold embrace of the land, and learn the truth of what happened in the isolated town. As the first episode of a planned series, Carl will explore two square kilometers of land in search of clues and supplies. While on his investigation, he'll find abandoned homes and public points of interest that will give him leads. Along the way, he'll learn more about the town's unique characters while searching through their abandoned homes, notes, and other clues left behind. I really liked the atmosphere and tone that Kôna gave off. Exploring the town felt like opening up a time-capsule from the '70s, and many objects, media, and other knick-knacks from the era are presented in authentic fashion. Though be careful, exploring the environment will take a toll on Carl, and he'll have to look after himself during his journey through the wilderness. Interestingly enough, the game's survival elements do a lot to play into the core structure of intrigue and dread that the game encapsulates. While most adventure and narrative-driven games like Dear Esther or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture have players focus on story and not worry about their characters getting hurt, Kôna goes all in with survivalist gameplay. Players will manage Carl's health, temperature, stress, and carrying capacity, which adds another more pressing element to the title's structure. Eventually, you'll acquire firearms to ward off wild animals, such as packs of roaming wolves, but ammo is in extremely short supply. I was impressed to see that the two gameplay focuses, which are totally different from one another, actually work quite well together. If anything, having to mange resources and Carl's well-being adds to the urgency of the environment. Though my time with Kôna was quite brief, I really enjoyed what the developers have come up with. Blending survival elements into the narrative structure of an adventure title was alluring, and my short stint in the great white north offered a lot of intrigue. The developers are also working on special VR features for the title, which will create an even more immersive experience. Though the game is still some time away from release, Parabole has got something quite special with this evocative title.
Kna photo
Whiteout in the great white north
It's not often we see a title that blends one of the many hallmarks of the adventure genre, a focus on a rich and evocative setting, with the tense and resource-focused gameplay of survival games. But...

Vive photo

Expect a 'limited quantity' of Valve's VR headset Vive

Most of us will have to wait until Q1 2016
Aug 28
// Vikki Blake
Valve's virtual reality headset, Vive, will only be available in a "limited quantity" when it launches later this year. "Larger quantities" will be available from Q1 2016.  "Vive developer kits have been available f...
Racing photo

Can video games make you a better driver?

It works for F1 drivers
Aug 27
// Vikki Blake
F1 driver Max Verstappen has been honing his driving skills by way of racing sims. By using simulators like Assetto Corsa, iRacing and rFactor 2, Verstappen's been able to familiarise himself with the F1 c...
Morpheus is ready photo
Morpheus is ready

Sony's VR headset Morpheus is complete, just needs games

I'm still waiting on PS Camera titles
Aug 19
// Jed Whitaker
Sony's sleek virtual reality headset Morpheus is complete hardware wise, but it is "just waiting for the game titles to catch up with the hardware," according to Dennis Castleman, hardware R&D engineer at Sony Computer En...
Johnnui photo

John Wick getting a VR shooter

Published by Payday developer
Aug 10
// Steven Hansen
If you didn't catch last year's John Wick, it's a pretty great flick, and a rare well-choreographed one (as far as American productions go). Its lead character has already crossed over into Starbreeze's Payday 2 (above); the ...
Virtual insanity photo
Virtual insanity

What's going on with this goofy Time cover?

Also, what is that Oculus plugged into?
Aug 06
// Jordan Devore
Twitter is blowing up with the new Time cover featuring Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey. Some people seem upset -- "isn't virtual reality a hard-enough sell already?" -- which I find funny. One silly magazine cover isn't going to ruin the tech's chances at success. It's better than that. Why Virtual Reality Is About to Change the World [Time]
Strap-on Gaming Star Wars photo
Strap-on Gaming Star Wars

Star Wars podracing is pretty awesome in VR

As is dancing at the cantina bar
Jul 28
// Jed Whitaker
Someone went through the trouble of recreating Star Wars' Tatooine for the Oculus Rift and it is awesome. In the demo appropriately named Tatooine, you can visit the cantina where a dance party is taking place with the ...
Danganronpa VR photo
Danganronpa VR

Cyber Danganronpa VR: Class Trial could be the start of something neat

Tech demo for Project Morpheus
Jul 24
// Jordan Devore
Spike Chunsoft has been playing around with Project Morpheus, and Cyber Danganronpa VR: Class Trial is the result. As that subtitle indicates, it places players directly inside of a class trial. The tech demo was shown this w...
Nokia VR photo
Nokia VR

Nokia might be announcing its own VR hardware next week

Strap an N-Gage to your face
Jul 22
// Joe Parlock
Virtual reality is like the bus: you wait twenty years for one, and then four of them come along at once. Typical. This time, it’s Nokia stepping into the VR ring, going up against Sony’s Morpheus, Valve and HTC&r...
Virtual reality photo
Virtual reality

Valve and HTC are touring with the HTC Vive

Across the US, Germany, and France
Jul 10
// Jordan Devore
This was the year I went from not caring much about virtual reality (yet) to mentally committing myself to buying an Oculus Rift when its consumer model releases next year. The company's E3 2015 showing, which included a one-...
Ubisoft photo

Ubisoft boss explains why it has a leg up on making VR games

It has everything to do with its style
Jul 10
// Brett Makedonski
Like many people, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is excited for the advent of virtual reality gaming. But, he isn't just anxious to see what will come of it; he views his own company as a potential leader in the VR space, and it'...
cOculus Rift photo
cOculus Rift

Which VR headset will win? Porn has already decided

Porn, porn always changes
Jun 25
// Jed Whitaker
There is plenty of debate about which virtual reality headset will "win the war" and be the last one standing, but porn has already decided. Where porn goes so does technology, as can be seen in VHS vs. Betamax and Blu-ray v...
Headmaster photo

Headmaster is NOT a VR porn game for Morpheus

Though its lessons may cross over
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
"Though its lessons may cross over," get it? Crossover, like the soccer move? (We kicked it and I scored, soccer game). Because Headmaster is (sort of) a weird soccer game and not about giving virtual blowjobs (you'll only g...

Super Hypercube would be great even without VR

Jun 22 // Jordan Devore
[embed]294606:59196:0[/embed] This is coming exclusively to Morpheus as a launch title from Kokoromi and publisher Polytron. (We've gotten word that Fez designer Phil Fish is also working on the game. He's back!)
Virtual Reality photo
First-person puzzler for Morpheus
Super Hypercube is another leading Morpheus game. It's a puzzle title about twisting a block around, in three dimensions, so that it fits through holes in oncoming walls. Tension builds as new pieces are added and your simple...

My favorite Morpheus game so far is RIGS

Jun 22 // Jordan Devore
Combat isn't anything new for the genre, but after you take enough people out and pick up orbs from fallen foes, you're put into an overdrive mode. It's at this point you need to make a mad dash toward the top of the map where there are ramps leading up to a giant hoop. Jump down through the goal as if you were a basketball to score, but watch out for incoming fire and melee attacks. If and when your mech is destroyed, you'll eject and skyrocket to the top of the map. You can take in the scenery, or get straight back into the action by looking at one of a few colored spawn points and confirming with a button press. Given the immersion of VR, free-falling felt awesome. Had the game just been standard team-based combat centered on blowing up mechs, I wouldn't have thought much of it. This mode, Power Slam, really was the best way to introduce it. RIGS won't be a compelling enough reason to own a Morpheus by itself, but it's a good starting point.
Virtual Reality photo
'Basketball with guns'
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and virtual reality -- those were the two things, by far, I most enjoyed at this year's E3. Steven did an exceptional job of capturing the essence of the former, so now it's on me to ...

Nintendo VR photo
Nintendo VR

Reggie Fils-Aime doesn't think VR is fun enough yet

Virtual Boy's the face on his knocker
Jun 19
// Joe Parlock
Seemingly still haunted by the rattling, wailing ghost of the Virtual Boy, Nintendo of America's President Reggie Fils-Aimé has ruled out the company picking a side in the growing virtual reality war. In an i...
Summer Lesson photo
Summer Lesson

Summer Lesson looks like everything I want from virtual reality right now

S-sign me up?
Jun 17
// Josh Tolentino
OK, real talk: That headline makes me sound like a giant creeper because, in case you didn't know, Summer Lesson is a Sony Morpheus-based tech demo that involves you just sitting beside a girl, listening to her, an...

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