E3 Announcements Bring Big Franchises Into VR
The annual E3 games industry conference is underway this week in Los Angeles. The big players in the industry are showcasing their upcoming games for the next twelve months.
Sony Reveals New PSVR Titles
Sony revealed half a dozen new VR titles coming to its platform. An interesting theme here is that most of them make very heavy use of motion controllers. The PS Move controllers are a bit of a pain to configure and their tracking area is too small, so it will be interesting to see how well games like Superhot VR will adapt to their constraints. Trailers:
Skyrim VR (will have PSVR timed exclusive)
Project Sparc (will have PSVR timed exclusive)
Final Fantasy XV: Monsters of the Deep
We heard this week some reassuring details about the PSVR’s sales numbers. Last week Sony had just crossed the million sales mark, indicating a major slowdown since the Christmas season. Shaun Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America told Polygon: “We have been sold out ever since launch and it's only within the last month or so that it's started to come into supply and we're feverishly getting the factory cranked up as fast as we can. The product itself has way exceeded our expectation and we feel with over five million games already sold in that six month period, over a million sets installed around the world, we hope we're on the road to establishing the format as a viable, legitimate form of entertainment."
Bethesda Brings Fallout 4 VR to Vive
Bethesda is bringing more than its fair share of big VR announcements to E3. The studio is behind the aforementioned Doom VFR and Skyrim VR titles, both of which will be available on the PSVR and Vive (Skyrim after a period of exclusivity to PS4). They also showed off gameplay from Fallout 4 VR which will be a Vive exclusive (Bethesda’s parent company Zenimax has been feuding with Oculus and recently won $500 million in a lawsuit against Facebook). Interestingly, The Skyrim and Fallout trailers show a lot of thumbstick movement, usually considered too uncomfortable for VR. Doom VFR by contrast has more traditional teleporting mechanics.
XBox One X
The only player making major hardware announcements was Microsoft, which showed off the final version of “Project Scorpio”, and from a VR perspective it was a non-announcement, with the company making no mention of VR support for the console. A year ago at E3 2016, Microsoft said that the console would be built with high-end VR in mind, and the new “XBox One X” is certainly powerful enough, with a GPU that would land squarely within the recommended spec for Oculus on PC.
It should be noted that Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets with Hololens tracking tech still have a long way to go to be market ready, so their team has its hands full, and presumably Microsoft would provide their own HMD hardware for the Xbox; announcing it now might step on the toes of partners building HMDs for the Windows 10 platform. Another interesting detail is that the XBox One X will have only one HDMI port, so it will probably need a breakout box to support VR, like the PS4 does.
The console’s price of $499, which seems fair given its specs, drew heavy criticism; the rival PS4 Pro costs $399 and customers could purchase both the slimmed down XBox One S and a PS4 Slim for a sum total of $498, a prospect that gamers worried about missing out on platform exclusives may consider the more tempting proposition.
A VR arcade in Japan called VR Zone Shinjuku showed off what appears to be an official VR version of Mario Kart integrated with a 4d go-kart simulator. The video posted by UploadVR shows several other experiences built around what appear to be exercise machines and a fighter jet variation of the go-kart setup, all of which look like a lot of fun.