Virtual Reality is only now starting to come out of its infancy. Hardware makers such as HTC, Oculus, and Sony are consistently bringing new content to their respective platforms. While HTC and Oculus aren’t releasing hardware sales figures, we know PlayStation VR has moved a little more than 2 million units. The incentive for developers to experiment in the medium is still a calling more than a monetary endeavor, one that definitely needs all the support it can get. As a believer in VR’s potential, I checked out as many upcoming and updated titles as I could on the E3 2018 show floor. Here’s a few of the best you should know about:
Arca’s Path (Dream Interactive)
Platforms: PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Steam VR, Samsung Gear VR
Release Date: 2018
The deceptively simple thing for VR game developers to do is take simple puzzle games and bring the camera down to asset level. Arca’s Path by Dream Interactive takes something near childish and wraps it in an enchantingly abstract art style. In the game, you’ll play as a young girl who finds a mystical mask that puts her in a world of elaborate mousetrap mazes. Using only your head movements you’ll guide a sphere that represents the character through paths of twists, turns, and problems to solve.
Our demo admittedly started out slowly since it was two levels from the game’s first chapter that act as a simple tutorial to get you accustomed to the control. While I was taken by the ambient beauty and orchestra like electronic sounds of the game’s score, the real fun didn’t kick in until you hit that first slalom near the end of the demo. Trying to steer this ball down a half pipe while avoiding hazards and going over the edge is a fun challenge that shows off a good change of pace for it. Araca’s Path looks to be a fun experience for friends to try who may not be into gaming but curious about virtual reality.
Arca’s Path has a release window of 2018 but no firm date yet.
CREED RISE TO GLORY (Survios)
Platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR
Release Date: TBA
A year ago I tried my first VR boxing experience with a different game called Knockout Kings. I thought no one would be able to top the Punch-Out like feel of that game and VR would be confined to a Nintendo style of boxing game. Survios, a studio with the most diverse VR portfolio in games (Raw Data, Sprint Vector, Electronauts) just took the boxing crown with Creed Rise To Glory. As you can guess from the name, the game has a lore based on the hit movie starring Michael B. Jordan as the son of legendary movie boxing champion Apollo Creed.
You’ll step into the red, white, and blue trunks of Adonis Creed as you fight your way up the ranks in the game’s story mode or simply use the game as a training tool to test your speed, reflexes, and punching power under the tutelage of the Pride of Philadelphia himself, Rocky Balboa. Stepping into this VR experience was one of the most physically demanding games I’ve played. Unlike playing Nintendo’s Punch-Out, there’s little in the way of physical tells that allow you to telegraph your opponent’s next move. No eybrow raise or King Hippo three second arm raise. Instead, you have to rely on what real boxers do, feel out your opponent and devise a strategy. Simply putting your hands up to block your head in more advanced stages of the game will cause your A.I opponent to go for your body, ducking too much will make them deliver overhand shots to the head. Finding the right balance between the dancing and fighting is key.
Then there’s the tech itself, Survios have put a lot of thought into the effects of fighting. If you work your opponents sides during a fight the A.I begins to wince or if you throw to many flurries of punches your hand speed begins to slow down until you block and rest enough in the middle of the bout. These touches help to create one of the most meaty experiences based on the sweet science of boxing and I can’t wait to try the full game. This is the next best thing to the Apollo Creed Hour of Power workout game I built in college. I’m gonna get shredded! Also: Survios please use the following (Courtesy of SuperTheseus).
Currently, Creed Rise to Glory doesn’t have a date but Survios aim to release it sometime this year.
Platforms: PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
Release Date: Available Now
Moss first released on PlayStation VR last year but it’s worth talking about again during its PC showing at E3 2018. Players were put in the world of a living vibrant diorama as you help guide a cute little mouse named Quill across dangerous terrain, over traps, and battle enemies. Admittedly, I only did Moss in a PSVR demo last year and never picked up the full game. Trying it out on HTC was like a brand new experience. The PC release brings with it an enhanced depth to the immersion players will experience in Moss as the game is optimized to leverage Oculus Rift and HTC Vive technology. Along with high-resolution graphics, players can now manipulate the environment with both hands using the Oculus Touch and HTC Vive controllers.
The added control freedom using the touch controllers brings you as immersive an experience as you can get in modern VR tech. Being able to manipulate objects such as stones and doors by reaching out to them with your hands looks awesome through the VR headset. Even causing ripples in water by gliding your hand across the surface feels like your part of Quill’s world. While Moss’ tale is crafted for all ages, even adults can’t help but build a protectoral bond with this cute little rodent as Quill looks right at you and bows to thank at certain times you when you help or revive the character. Moss captures a magic only VR can show off and I’m glad its finally allowed to get into the hands of more people with its PC release.
Moss is now available in physical disc release for PSVR and digital only on STEAM for Oculus and HTC.
Ghost Giant (Zoink Games)
Platform: PlayStation VR
Release Date: TBA
Following in Moss shoes is Zoink Games tale of friendship, Ghost Giant. Zoink has teamed up with renowned writer Sara Bergmark Elfgren (The Engelsfors Trilogy), whose work ranges from novels to graphic novels to screenplays. Players are introduced to lonely little guy named Louis who spends his days caretaking the family sunflower farm with his mother. As the Ghost Giant you’ll interact through a giant pair of see-through hands that let the player lift trees, vehicles and even entire buildings in order to help Louis solve puzzles.
In the brief time I spent with Ghost Giant, I swear I felt the same way I did watching those first five minutes of Pixar’s Up. I just wanted to reach into this world and hug the little guy. It’s incredibly rewarding to see and hear Louis warm up to you as the player because as we’re told when you first meet him he’s terrified of the giant you. The game unfolds the story of the town Louis lives in and something that happened to his family that we don’t know but is quite clear the reason for Louis’ melancholy at times. Ghost Giant is like playing in a Pixar movie. While the animation is clearly different from those movies, you can’t help but be hit by the fun, emotion, and moral lessons playing out through your PSVR headset.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride (Nvizzio Creations)
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: Fall 2018
RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is not solely a VR game, it’s a RollerCoaster Tycoon game that features VR support. Meaning it can be played without having to own a PSVR headset. However, let’s face it… the game’s biggest selling point is putting you as close to the G-force sensation of riding monstrous coaster creations as possible. Going fast and getting disoriented is one of the funs VR was made for and RCTJ lets players do that.
Like other Tycoon titles, the game features builder elements that let you get creative with corkscrew tracks, speed boosters, loops, dips, and more. You can build your coasters in two distinct environments at launch (with more available in post updates), hot desert of the Canyon for a daytime thrill-ride or the captivating skyline and streets of the City as you embark on your adventure at dusk. If you’ve ever done the Toy Story carnival ride at Disney California Adventure or the Buzz Lighter year one at Disneyland then you’re familiar with the idea of shooting at targets with a mounted toy gun for virtual points. This game lets you build that mechanic onto your attraction by also putting various targets around your coaster to shoot at. You’ll be able to compete against friends through online leaderboards for the high score in target shooting as you ride coasters. I’ve never been much for any Sim or Tycoon building games as I simply don’t have the time but RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride gives me all the fun of torturing my family members on rides without having to pay for parking.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride will be available for the PlayStation 4 with built-in VR support, Fall 2018.
Platform: HTC Vive, PlayStation 4
Release Date: Fall 2018
Evasion is quite simply put the promise fulfilled from the boredom of Farpoint developed by Sony itself, the game PSVR had to make to launch a new controller. Trying the game for the first time on PSVR using the proprietary Sony Aim VR gun controller, I was a bit afraid at first since Evasion’s aesthetic has a lot in common with the alien world Farpoint took place on. However, I never had a moment to be bored by this game. Almost instantly I was put into a firefight with invading forces. Armed with a rifle and shield virtually mounted together via the Aim controller, the first thing you’ll notice that separates Evasion from other VR shooters is freedom of movement. This isn’t an on-rail experience or a click to find your next cover simulator, you’re in every bit the fluidity of combat danger you face in Halo or Mass Effect.
Archiact have given players multiple options when it comes to choosing how you’ll control your characters movements and to what degree. Through trial-and-error, you’ll be able to find the right method for you. During my demo, I chose total free movement using the thumbstick mounted on the Aim controller. It took a few minutes to acclimate my characters movements with what my head wanted to do looking around in VR. Once I got in my second big firefight it started to feel like a rhythm of moving the character with my thumb while turning my head to watch out for danger. Evasion was a fun experience that shows developers shouldn’t be overprotective of the audience, just give players tools to customize their VR playing experience to what they can handle. While the battles were intense and most importantly, fun, I didn’t really get the feel for anything more than a simplistic narrative that meets the story. This tech and the enemy designs are interesting enough that I hope the developer puts some kind of effort into telling a real story here.
Evasion is coming to STEAM and PlayStation VR in Fall of 2018.
Platform: PS VR, Oculus, Samsung Gear
Release Date: June 19 (PlayStation VR)
SculptrVR is artists tools in a 3D canvas. Drawing recognizable objects in 2D requires training and understanding of things like perspective, outlines, and shading. In SculptrVR, you directly layout 3D shapes instead of lines, and the graphics engine handles perspective and shading. The level of tools presented in the user interface can seem a bit intimidating at first, but as you get the hang of moving your own head in 3-dimensional space you start to piece together the ideas going on in your imagination.
As you start to build odd ridiculous things that you swear look like genitalia, you start seeing simple things such as birds or flowers come together then building upon those things takes you down a rabbit hole of creativity you may spend hours in. SculptrVR differs from the light painter you may have seen on the Late Late Show in that this is more like carving a statue out of rock or more accurately building with play-doh that you texturize. When you’re done, you can save your creations to the online gallery which over time will become an overwhelming vault full of artistry. Like its PC based release, SculptrVR will constantly be evolving, adding new tools and features though no concrete timetable was given for post-launch.
E3 2018 showed vast leaps in making VR’s statement as a new and accessible way to experience video games and these titles show off a wide range of possible future applications for the medium. Of course, VR isn’t something you can easily put into words, a screenshot, or even a video; you have to experience it for yourself to believe it.