Since the advent of digital television, video games have advanced from standard to HD, HD to 60-frames per second, now to virtual reality and the latest 4k resolution graphic fidelity. VR, in particular, has had its first full consumer accessible year in the market. Between HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR; over 2 million units have found their way into the homes and offices. While the tech always looked appealing and interesting; last year’s reveal of Batman Arkham VR that pushed me over the line to invest. Since its release in October, my personal VR headset has seen almost non-existent use. For many early adopters, the worry was starting to become a reality. Had developers and publishers abandoned VR? This past week E3 2017, proved not only is VR still alive; it’s on the verge of living up to its promise.
Here are some of the best VR games we experienced during E3 2017:
John Wick Chronicles (HTC VIVE)
Publisher: Starbreeze Studio, Lionsgate
Developer: Grab Games, Big Red Button, and GamecoStudios
There some properties that are just begging to be turned into a VR experience. The ultimate assassin, John Wick is at the top of that list. A small experience with a lot of punch that puts players in the tailor-made suit of Keanu Reeves character, John Wick Chronicles is one of the best weapon based experiences currently available on VR. Just as in the film, the action of the world doesn’t give you a moments peace, you’ll find yourself having to utilize your own full range of motion to duck, dodge, and avoid enemy fire. Weapon choice is more for enjoyment than strategy as almost anything can be dual wielded from MP5s to small arms, the game almost challenges you to see what kind of crazy stuff you can get away with. Long range weaponry is just as satisfying with intuitive controls that let you look down a long distance scope simply by bringing your hands to your face. While we wish we could have seen more up close and personal combat, what John Wick Chronicles gets right is reason enough for any owner of HTC VR to buy this game. It’s the meatiest VR artillery experience you’ll encounter.
John Wick Chronicles is available now for HTC Vive through STEAM PC. Hopefully, it will come to PS VR at some point. With as many developers sourced for the game it almost seems a waste not to bring it to other VR platforms.
Archangel (PSVR, Oculus, HTC Vive)
Publisher: Skydance Interactive
You’ll know Skydance for their production work on numerous action movies, so when the company set its sights in the interactive entertainment industry, virtual reality seemed like a no-brainer for the studio. Bringing on talented developers from Workshop Entertainment, a studio you’ve probably never heard of but the outsourced work they get has been in such mega franchises like Gears of War. In the publisher’s first original title, Archangel, you’ll hop inside the cockpit of a six-story-tall mech as you try to stop an evil corporation from taking over the Earth. While its story is a bit simplistic, its gameplay is as complex as playing a drum set. In VR you’re forced to be aware of what both your appendages are doing as enemies can attack from multiple angles. Do you go full force with a rocket launcher in one hand and chain gun in the other or do you utilize energy shields was you Hulk smash a tank? There’s no wrong way to go into battle but completing the missions will be a process of trial and error. Archangel has a feel of old arcade shooters brought into modern times. This is Terminator meets Titanfall in a blend of or rail movement combined with strategic over-the-top combat. Skydance have also recently announced they’ll be developing a Walking Dead VR game in partnership with Skybound. While that is still ways away, Archangel will definitely be a fun thing to tide players over till we get to Kirkman’s virtual zombie apocalypse.
Archangel launches this July for PS VR, HTC, and Occulus.
RAW DATA, SPRINT VECTOR (HTC VIVE)
More than just combat, Survios is perhaps the company making the most advancement towards incorporating real motion in VR. Raw Data lets you team up with a friend on-line in the cooperative action packed missions. Players can live out their Lethal Weapon and Tango & Cash buddy action movie fantasies. You’ll need to be aware of your 360-degree surroundings as you shoot, slice, and combat waves of enemies. The studio’s other project looks to help you get your workout in Sprint Vector. You’ll compete in the galaxies version fo American Ninja Warrior. Swing your arms to run, lean to shift to the sides, reach to climb objects in a race to the the finish line. It’s one of VR’s most physically demanding experiences and a good start for all developers on the road of developers advancing VR tech.
RAW DATA is in early access on PC and players can sign up for Sprint Vector beta on the game’s site. Both have launch dates to be announced soon.
The Inpatient (PSVR)
Publisher: Sony Interactive
Developer: Supermassive Game
The team behind the surprise PlayStation 4 hit Until Dawn is finally bringing a real horror game made from the groud up for VR. In the gates of Blackwood Sanatorium players will take the role of an amnesiac inpatient set 60 years before Until Dawn. From the get-go, you’ll be able to make choices that drastically affect the game. Every choice you make is done through the VR mic voice control. The Inpatient puts you in the shoes of a full model meaning when you look down you won’t just see a pair of hands; waist, thighs, feet, are all fully visible in VR. The story isn’t just about scares; you’ll discover a rich backstory and uncover a conspiracy. Vivid flashback memories that you discover throughout the game are key to understanding why you are in the Sanatorium. Just like with Until Dawn, the choices you make will affect the outcome of not only yourself but the characters around you as well.
The Inpatient still doesn’t have a release date but is currently slated for PSVR sometime in 2017.
E3 itself is too big to do everything in the course of three days. VR games at the show in total numbered around 100 titles, we picked just a few which stood out to us, but in there’s something for every taste coming. With even more VR coming from Sony with Gran Tourismo, No Heroes Allowed, Moss and publisher Bethesda in the form of Fallout, DOOM, and Skyrim; VR is looking more like a long-term investment rather than short-term gimmick.
We’ll have our best of non-comics games E3 list tomorrow on Comics Beat and a special interview with Joe Mad about Battle Chasers: Nightwar on Monday along with Indiecade’s best titles.