Current Reality of Virtual Reality

Before, I begin, I would like you to take a moment to think of a VR game. What is the first game or genre of a game that comes to your mind? I asked a few people, here’s what I received from them. Jiming said ‘Beat Saber’, Tai said ‘VR games are not good enough yet for me to play’ and Mengqi said ‘Tales of Wedding Rings’, Ava said ‘Beat Saber’ as well. Now, if we ignore Tai’s answer and take Ava, Jiming and Mengqi’s answers, what is one thing that is common between them? Why these games were the first to come in their mind? I could not ask them because they would try to find an explanation. What I’m looking for is what made them instinctively say those names. It is worth mentioning that Beat Saber was named twice. What makes Beat Saber the face of VR? In my opinion, it was the uniqueness of it. It is the things that you cannot do in real life, or even in other gaming platforms that makes VR unique. Imagine Beat Saber on mobile. Nobody will play it.

Yeah… no…

It’s not as fun, it could get really hard. So, at least we can agree that VR games need to be designed completely from a different perspective than traditional games. But, does it always hold true? Pavlov, a first person shooter VR game says ‘maybe not?’. We have already seen thousands of FPS games on other platforms, but, there are indeed certain design changes from traditional FPS that make Pavlov fun. The design also depends on the target audience which is very different from traditional FPS games. People play Pavlov mainly to have fun, as opposed to testing their skills and instincts like in traditional FPS games. We will probably not see any competitive VR FPS game that is e-sports ready.

Pavlov VR

Vacation Simulator came out last week and I had the privilege to play it. I absolutely loved it. I think it was a big upgrade for Owlchemy Labs from Job Simulator and even the short Rick and Morty VR game. But, I read several reviews that question if the game fits in with 2019 VR Games? With developers experimenting different mechanics using VR, the reviews questioned if Owlchemy was playing it too safe. However, I think Vacation Simulator is exactly what VR needs right now. A successful safe game keeping the VR industry running concurrent with other developers experimenting different things. The most anticipated VR experiment for me this year is BONEWORKS which is a realistic physics-heavy sandbox adventure. With such games in development, and games like Vacation Sim keeping the VR market steady, I think it is safe to assume that the current state of VR is quite decent.

Vacation Simulator (Left), BONEWORKS (Right)

But Could It Be Better?

Should developers be making AAA titles for VR, which is not very accessible right now? Should tech industry struggle harder to develop technology to make VR more accessible or make mobile VR better and anything unlike Google Cardboard? Is VR worth it? This is a question hard to answer. Nobody knows the answer to this. Smartphones weren’t a thing in 2005, but a year later, Apple announced the iPhone, and the entire world changed. It became a necessity to human beings. But, VR has been around for decades, and such little progress could definitely lead to an answer that maybe it is not so worth it. People think VR is the future, but in my opinion, I believe VR is the present, and it needs to be kept alive, because there is potential, as we have seen in Ready Player One, ignoring the terrible plot and the dystopian approach. VR needs the iPhone to the mobile industry or the Halo to the Xbox or the God of War to the PlayStation. It could be better. It could always be better. We just need to know the way..

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