‘Immersion’ has always been at the forefront of the modern gaming experience.
How do you create a gaming experience for the consumer that will IMMERSE them in the world you created?
You’d be safe to assume that a good story with strong dialogue is a start, but suffice to say this isn’t something that can be executed with ease.
A beautiful visual feast also works, but like any good thing, video games can’t rest on one or the other.
But what happens when the immersion is driven by creating a world around that player that is accessed via a headset?
Well…that’s something else completely…
Live The Game.
Immerse yourself in extraordinary new worlds, put yourself at the centre of an incredible gaming universe and experience a new way to play with PlayStation VR.
Thanks to Playstation NZ, I had the chance to check out the PSVR last week.
While I’ve had a fair amount of time on it thanks to last year’s Armageddon Expo, it was only early code shown for the now upcoming VR Worlds title, exclusive to Playstation 4.
Along with VR Worlds, myself and some mates got to check out a whole lot more coming to this new challenger in the VR market.
Immediately injecting myself into the upcoming remake of the classic tank-title Battlezone, one of the bros strapped themselves into the updated Driveclub game with VR support, aptly called Driveclub VR (I know, I’m shocked).
Unlike most titles on the PSVR, Battlezone‘s tank is driven by the Dual Shock 4 instead of the Move controllers.
It’s slightly bizarre when the title boots up as you’re suddenly within the cockpit of some hyper-realistic tank waiting for it to initialize and send you into…THE BATTLEZONE (well I think that’s why it’s called that).
Taking in your surroundings because you can suddenly control what direction you’re looking in with your head, makes it feel all the more like you’re in this tank.
And while it should be concerning that a standard controller is allowing you to wreak havoc on an immense scale, I can’t help but be okay with it simply because Will Smith flew a car with one in Men In Black 2.
Moving away from the classic vector graphics, and solidifying it in a manner similar to when the movie Tron received its sequel, Battlezone on the day was the winner for me immediately. It earned such a place, because it did it all simply; therefore making it easy for me to immerse myself in the world.
After that, I hurriedly threw myself into Driveclub VR which Playstation NZ provided a full rig for.
AND. IT. WAS. INTENSE.
Considering myself to be a better-than-mediocre player, I decided to pick the Hyper level of cars to drive. I can’t recall what is was, as it was slowly burned away from my memory with the intense speed-burn on screen causing a form of short-term memory loss, which I assume is what happens to characters activating NOS in the Fast & Furious movies (No Brian, you never had Dom. YOU NEVER HAD YOUR CAR).
Speeding off in a car with a low-level-roof had me breathing harder than someone who’d just jumped into a cold shower; my spacial reference being thrown well off by the very real space I’m in, not lining up with what I was seeing.
Sweat started beading down my brow more and more as the speed of the title got to me and I had to get out.
If you think you wouldn’t get motion sickness from something not real, I can tell you it becomes very real quickly.
And that’s what made Driveclub VR exciting to me in a masochistic way.
That safe feeling versus the feeling of being unsafe in this super car, reflected so easily through the virtual world around you.
I decided to take a break and get my bearings as another mate was slightly peer-pressured into playing Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood.
While carrying the franchise name of the very excellent horror title, Rush Of Blood is an on-rails shooting game that pulls horrors from that universe. My friend who is a fan of the genre, easily dealt with the jump-scares throughout that came in many a form; which we too got to see using the VR’s Mirror Mode.
It was then that I got to play the title I had been waiting for.
Throughout the day leading up to the event, I’d been saying to my friends that I needed to see code of Rocksteady’s upcoming VR title, called Batman VR (seriously, what were you expecting?)
The Arkham titles have been some of the best comic book related video games released, so to see Rocksteady attempting to engage this new technology with a hugely popular comics character and game, is exciting to say the least.
And it did not disappoint.
Now with any new games title, I do attempt to try to break the mechanics of it.
This is because while having boundaries, they also break some of our real-world restrictions. Following these rules, means our own world constructs can be eliminated by a simple button press.
So you can bet your ass I tried to punch Alfred immediately.
Look I love Alfred, but I also wanted to see how immersed this game would take me.
Funnily enough, he didn’t react and carried on with his duties.
Therefore I tried to break it all.
Alfred gave me a key? I dropped it (it auto-spawned on the batcave-entry-piano-keypad thing)
Piano requires an input to access the cave? I punched it (I still got taken to the cave).
Now suiting up as the Batman? That. That was very cool.
While putting on the whole suit was something as easy as placing the emblem on your chest; Acquiring the rest of it was much more engaging.
The gauntlets required a twist on 2 columns to put on; The grapnel gun required you picking it up, shooting it and then placing it on your belt, along with the forensic scanner that followed it. Batarangs were connected to your buckle, and the cowl? Well, you had to pull that over your head.
Though you couldn’t really touch or feel them, they were very much there. Breaking our world’s ruless by presenting weightless objects shouldn’t feel real, but they’re there.
You’re throwing batarangs.
You’re shooting the grapnel gun everywhere.
You’re randomly scanning nothing with the forensic scanner.
They’re there, and they’re not.
The most interesting plot-twist, is that your hands are wrapped around the Move controllers the whole time, but they’re open in the game. And while it should feel like your hands are closed, you get a very real sense of phantom-limb, with the hands in your mind mimicking the ones your eyes can see.
And that…that means the rabbit hole the Playstation VR can take you down, is going to go very deep indeed.