Virtual future is looking brighter

Virtual future is looking brighter

A still image from Resident Evil 7; game players want to see more virtual reality titles with this kind of longevity.

Noel Campion enjoys excellent features in new virtual reality headsets, which would benefit from more games being released

JUST before Christmas last year, I took a look at the then newly released PlayStation Virtual Reality headset and was suitably impressed with the technology and the experience.

However, at that time, a PSVR was incredible hard to buy as they were out of stock everywhere and many an Irish mammy had to get their Johnny something else for Christmas instead.

In the nearly seven months since the PSVR was launched there haven’t been a ton of new titles released for it but we did get the PS4 Pro which improves the VR experience by giving it a slight performance boost and a improvements in the consistency of frame rates which in turn help reduce the chances of motion sickness.

So, now that the PSVR has been out a while and stocks are available, is it worth it or is it just another thing that will fade away like 3D or become a niche market? I can’t see into the future but can say that it isn’t fair to compare 3D and VR, mainly because the latter far exceeds what 3D has to offer in overall user experience and realism. Sure, it’s not going to be for everyone but the PSVR has gained some traction and although new games releases for it have been slow, recent titles like Farpoint and the new Aim Controller will help keep it going.

The sceptic in me wonders will the PSVR go the way of other devices like the Xbox Kinetics which has been dropped by Microsoft or 3D games which Sony tried as far back as the PS3 but that was a bit of a non starter. The PlayStation Move controllers were a short and passing novelty back in the day but now they’re back as controllers for the PSVR.

I’ve had a lot of people try the PSVR over the last six months and all of them were blown away by what they experienced so unlike 3D gaming, anecdotally I think VR has a more universal appeal but that in itself doesn’t mean that it’s guaranteed to succeed.

Although expensive for the average consumer, the PSVR is a fair price for the technology. Unlike the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets which are more expensive and require a top of the range gaming PC to run, the PSVR has a much lower cost of entry, especially if you already own a PS4 or PS4 Pro.

The PSVR had a solid list of launch titles like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Driveclub VR, RIGS to mention just a few but I really like — and I still play — Mickey’s shooting range, a mini game from the Heist which is part of VR Worlds.

However, many of these titles lack longevity and the PSVR will need more games titles like Resident Evil 7 and now Farpoint that offer a full gaming experience rather than just a quick fix.

Farpoint is the latest game that I’ve played on the PSVR and although, if it was a standard PS4 game I wouldn’t rate it very highly, as a VR game it shows great potential for the platform as well as introducing an excellent new controller that I hope will be used in more games in the future.

Farpoint is a simple first person shooter and space adventure set on a hostile alien world.

After crash landing you must fight to survive as you explore and uncover the planet’s secrets. Your only hope of escape is to constantly keep moving and discover the fate of your team.

Farpoint is a game for those who used to love those arcade light gun shooters like The House of the Dead but want a more immersive experience. The Aim controller looks nothing like a real gun but in the game, you really are holding a rifle and you can move it around in your hand like it’s the real object.

Farpoint is far from perfect and a good gamer will finish the game in less than six hours but it does have a co-op mode so if you know someone else with a PSVR and the game you can play with them which is great.

Resident Evil 7 is more like 20 hours to play — if you have nerves of steel and if you can handle the horror in VR.

Largely thanks to the Aim Controller, Farpoint is a short but extremely intense experience and despite it lacking any gameplay depth or innovation, it demonstrates the potential for what may come to the PSVR platform if developers get behind it.

The PSVR needs more titles like Farpoint, Resident Evil 7, VR Worlds and games that offer longevity, gameplay and something truly innovative. The first six months was an impressive start for the PSVR with some solid launch titles but the next six months will be its proving grounds but I’m certainly hoping the system has a bright future because it has so much going for it.

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

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