Thursday, August 13, 2015
Virtual Reality - Games Are Just the Beginning
About the author:
Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. After graduating from DePaul University in 2011 she traveled throughout Southeast Asia teaching English, today she’s saving up for her next adventure and writing as much as she can in her free time. Find her on Twitter @bkelly_88
Virtual Reality - Games Are Just the Beginning
Only recently has virtual reality technology begun to expand in earnest, beyond the limited sphere of gaming and towards a wider mainstream adoption. This year’s E3 event revealed a myriad of exciting new developments in the VR space - numerous booths offered the chance to try some of the most innovative products on their way towards consumer markets, from the well-known Oculus Rift to Microsoft’s HoloLens, as well as a few out-there products like a VR treadmill/bike and VR gloves.
Virtual reality appeared as a promising trend several years ago, peaking in the '90s before falling to the wayside once more. However, new developments in high speed fiber-optic and sensor technology, as well as more powerful visual software, are now helping make these headsets a reality (very Ready Player One, if you ask me). It will take more time, but it's clear to see that important strides are already being made in the VR space – all of which will have massive implications for the gaming world and beyond.
Utilized by the military for years to assist in the training of soldiers, fighter pilots, and additional combat personnel, VR has now found a home in hospital rooms and paramedic classes, even among university football recruiters. Virtual reality has also proven effective in treating a wide variety of psychological problems, from PTSD to social anxiety and symptoms of autism. According to sources at Direct Energy and clean power advocacy groups, new technology may even help us visualize the impending ecological disasters associated with climate change.
But until advanced VR devices arrive in the homes of all everyday individuals, its worth looking at a few of the best new games at the forefront of the virtual reality revolution:
Edge of Nowhere
From the company that brought us Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank, Insomniac Games is bringing something totally different to 2016’s Oculus Rift release. Designed for the new Rift headset, Edge of Nowhere is a third-person adventure game (atypical for VR) set in the arctic in which the player searches for a missing expedition. Now, in reality, it would seem like the insanely low temperatures and the fact the possibility of getting lost in the arctic would be more than enough to frighten. But this is a video simulation - when everything goes off the rails and players end up battling creatures and monsters in a chilly wasteland is when things really get exciting. The possibility of using the latest Oculus Touch software with this game adds additional intrigue.
The Walking Dead
The zombie theme may have been overdone in recent years, but fans of The Walking Dead will still likely flock to a VR game that adds to the franchise. In this game players will be able to experience this apocalyptic world just like in the show. In the VR The Walking Dead, players were confined to a wheelchair as they shot zombies off one by one with a shotgun controller, which allows you to aim and fire intuitively. A demo of the game that runs on the Starbreeze StarVR headset and soon-to-be-released HTC Vive headset has been tested by the public, but an official release date for the game itself has yet to be announced.
Monster Escape/Monster Battle
A simple but adorable-looking two section demo game comes in the form of Sony’s Monster Escape/Monster Battle. One person wears the VR headset and plays as a dinosaur as up to four others play tiny robots while using regular controllers and a television screen. The Morpheus wearer controls his actions only with the headset and tries to destroy buildings in a city. The robots must dodge the debris and throw it back at the dinosaur’s head. Although this isn’t necessarily a complex game, it looks like a light-hearted break from dramatic storylines and seemingly impossible missions. Headbutting everything in your path is also a fun way to revert back to your younger self again.
Rigs: Mechanized Combat League
Many children growing up in the 1990’s watched Mobile Suit Gundam Wing on Cartoon Network. For anyone who dreamt of owning their own mech suit and roaming through space and battling other mechs, Rigs: Mechanized Combat League, enables a very similar experience. Users might not be in space, but the game is a first person shooter that lets you form teams and fight for glowing orbs. Like Monster Escape/Monster Battle, users are able to control their movements with their head in addition to a left thumbstick, which makes it easier to lock onto a target. Since Sony’s Project Morpheus is one of the leading systems in the VR industry, we can expect even more immersive robo-fight games like Rigs in the future.
While virtual reality is far from maturity, these new games signal the coming of even more advanced technology down the road. As innovators across industries find new applications for VR tech, it won’t be long before virtual reality becomes a part of our everyday lives.
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