A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of using the school’s few Virtual Reality devices, and I gotta say: it was really fun, as I’m sure most of you have experienced first hand. I just wanted to document my experience and what my take-aways were.
I played on the Oculus Rift, which admittedly, would not be my first choice for a VR headset. For one, it was bought by Facebook, and I don’t like the whole “social integration” direction they’re taking the Oculus VR company in. It also wasn’t built from the ground-up for motion controls, unlike the HTC Vive, and it’s not as cheap as PlayStation VR. Still, on the whole, I thought the whole experience was solid. I’ll get back to my gripes about my headset experience later.
For the time allocated to me, I played Robo Recall. The game starts up, and I’m in a street looking at a store TV display case. The TVs in the store are showing a news report about robots supposedly running amok. Other, non-violent robots start to crowd around me in an orderly fashion to watch the news. Some of the robots make comments about statements from the RoboReady Corporation, the manufacturers of the robots, saying they trust the company’s denials about the situation. Suddenly, the TVs flash red with a QR code, and the robots start to sieze and malfunction. That is, until, they turn their attention to me, malice in their eyes. This does not look good…
They jump at me, I flinch in terror, sudden cut to black.
That little introductory experience had to have been one of the most immersive and frightening experiences I’ve ever seen. It’s not even a horror game, and it made me feel terrified!
Cut to an elevator, and voice tells me I am a new agent working for RoboReady as a “Recall Specialist.” Basically, it’s up to me to destroy these rogue robots. One of the first things I tried while in the elevator was try to grab at the elevator railing. It really felt like I could reach out and touch it! How cool is that?!
After a brief tutorial, I’m spawned into the streets to kick shiny metal butt. In short, the shooting gameplay I found to be very intuitive and rewarding. You grab weapons from your holster and shoot both exactly the way you would think you would. Soon, I was dodging bullets like Neo from the Matrix, plucking bullets out of thin air, and grabbing enemies by the handle on their back and ripping them limb from limb. Riot games knocked it out of the park by making the combat fun and easy to pick up.
One of my biggest gripes is the teleporting mechanic. You teleport by pushing the left stick up, then to the direction you want to face. Unlike Vive, in which you can face any direction freely, on the Rift, you need to be facing forward for the sensors to capture your movement. This makes what direction you face when teleporting key. Not only did this add an additional complexity to learning the teleport mechanic, but even after getting used to the controls, I was often briefly disoriented to my position and the positions of the enemies. This small problem becomes glaring in the middle of an intense firefight, when you’re being shot at from all directions and need to make a getaway, you can’t be fiddling so much with your only method of movement!
Overall, I was very pleased with my brief experience, aside from some fixable flaws. VR has some cost barriers to break down to be viable to the mainstream, but I think VR is here to stay.