Virtual reality E3 2018 roundup: PC VR takes a backseat to PSVR
Virtual Reality had an interesting presence at E3 this year, in part because several key announcements like Echo Combat and Stormland for the Oculus Rift rolled out the week before the conference, but also because PC VR in general had a light presence this year.
The PSVR on the other hand really stole the show but you might have missed it because it had very little space in the actual Sony conference, and was instead sprinkled throughout smaller conferences, pre- and post-show coverage, and quietly placed in key positions on the show floor to attract as much attention as possible, without stealing the thunder from Sony’s main lineup of exclusives.
That said, the VR titles we saw for all three platforms were exciting nonetheless, so let’s dive into everything VR at E3 2018.
If you remember the little robotic companions that Sony originally demoed in a small series of minigames for the Playstation Camera and Move controllers, then Astro Bot should have a familiar cast of characters.
The twist that sets Astro Bot apart is that it’s a VR Action Platformer where you’ll guide a tiny robot named Astro through a series of diverse environments, fight massive bosses, and rescue your fellow robotic companions all with the help of the versatile camera controls available in VR. It’s not the first VR platformer we’ve seen, but it’s interesting to see the genre continuing to thrive on the platform.
Beat Saber was a huge hit on the PC for both the HTC VIve and the Oculus Rift, so much so that it’s already getting a port to the PSVR, so grab your lightsabers and your DDR ninja skills and enjoy the ride!
Blood and Truth
From the creators of the infamous London Heist PSVR experience, Blood and Truth is shaping up to be an interesting blend of VR mechanics that takes the player beyond the generic VR shooter. That said, Sony has been incredibly dodgy about release dates for Blood and Truth, and although we saw it last year at E3 2017 they only had a single new playable demo available this year and wouldn’t even give us a ballpark release date for what looks like one of their best new VR shooters to date.
Hopefully Blood and Truth won’t go the way of Duke Nukem, but we’re tentatively optimistic that it’ll release at or sometime before E3 2019.
Creed: Rise to Glory
We’ve seen on multiple occasions that VR boxing can be a lot of fun and a great workout, and Creed: Rise to Glory is looking like it’ll offer all the heart pounding entertainment you can handle with both traditional boxing mechanics and a few twists and tweaks to make your hits feel more realistic and your potential knockout feel like a fight to stay conscious as you duke it out with some of the best boxers in history.
Creed: Rise to Glory will roll out for PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift this fall.
In a surprise twist, Sony also revealed that From Software, the makers of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, have been hard at work creating a new VR game called Déraciné. We didn’t get a whole lot of information from the trailer, but we do know that Déraciné will focus on exploring the narrative of a 19th century boarding school that’s stuck in some kind of time loop. The player will step into the shoes of a fairy or sprite that can travel from classroom-to-classroom to slowly unravel the mystery of the school in a much slower, more narratively focused adventure than we’ve seen roll out of From Software in the last decade or so.
It’s interesting to say the least and will supposedly release before the end of the year, and although it hasn’t been confirmed as a PSVR exclusive it seems likely considering its proximity to Sony in development.
Firewall: Zero Hour
Tactical shooters and the PSVR have a bit of a disappointing history, but Firewall: Zero Hour is hoping to step over Bravo Team’s corpse to take a whack at the genre by taking it a new direction. Overall, the newest build demoed at E3 2018 looks a lot like a VR oriented clone of Rainbow Six Siege’s objective based team play, but we all know Ubisoft didn’t coin the concept and there’s no doubt that it’ll be interesting to see how the tactical format adapts to VR. As of now Firewall: Zero Hour has no clear release date, so we could be waiting for a while.
In Ghost Giant you slide into the hands of a kindly giant in a world populated by adorable patchwork creatures to solve puzzles and guide a troubled young creature through a difficult time in their life. Ghost Giant seems to be focused on allowing the player to reach out and touch the world to solve puzzles, interact with characters, and in general influence the course of events in a way that’s only possible in the world of VR.
Gungrave is back and ready to slide into the spotlight on VR even if you aren’t familiar with the original games and anime, Gungrave VR is an open book of high flying anime gunplay. With familiar gun mechanics and the ability to swap between third and first-person perspectives, Gungrave VR looks like it lets you choose just how close you want to get to the action in this new spin on a classic franchise.
Heavy Fire: Red Shadow
Heavy Fire: Red Shadow is a 360-degree arcade style shooter coming to all platforms, but that will specifically feature PSVR support. It might not be anything innovative in a world of wave-based VR shooters, but the idea of porting a traditional 360-degree arcade shooter to multiple platforms with VR and controller support might be interesting enough to check out when it releases in Fall 2018.
Developer Disruptive games brought a playable version of their PSVR MOBA Megalith, which pits teams of two players against each other in the familiar tower defense meets PvP formula. As powerful heroes on a quest to become gods you’ll have plenty of power to sling around on the battlefield. Rumor has it there are six playable characters in the current build with more to come. We didn’t see much in terms of gameplay trailers at E3, but the game was playable at the conference which means it’s potentially on the fast track to it’s 2018 release date.
It’s Tetris, but so much more, because it’s developed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi the mind behind Rez Infinite and because it’s coming to PSVR. Imagine Tetris on visual steroids that takes you on a journey of intensity, from relaxing to adrenalizing depending on your skill level and gaming personality. You’ve never seen Tetris like this.
Trevor Saves the Universe
One of the PSVR games that did make the cut for the Sony press conference came as a bit of an out of the box surprise. When Trevor Saves the Universe made its big debut everyone instantly caught on to the Justin Roiland’s trademark humor and aesthetic, which led into a trailer for a VR action platformer that looks like it would be right at home on an episode of Rick and Morty’s interdimensional cable.
Trevor Saves the Universe doesn’t have a definitive release date, but you’ll be able to enjoy all the fun on PS4 and PSVR when it hits store shelves.
The sequel to Job Simulator from Owlchemy Labs, Vacation Simulator takes the concept of job simulation a step further by following the chain of logic to a new setting, a new set of challenges, and what looks like the same addictive formula that made Job Simulator such a perfect fit for interactive VR.
Although Vacation Simulator is confirmed to be on its way for PSVR we have no doubt it’ll made its way to other platforms at or near the PSVR release.
One of the only titles we saw at E3 this year that was confirmed for the Oculus Rift was Stormland, Insomniac’s newest VR title that’s shaping up to be one of the most innovative open world RPGs to ever make its way to VR.
You can read our full breakdown of the Stormland reveal here.
Prey Typhon Hunter VR
Bethesda brought more than a few VR titles to their E3 press conference this year including two VR game modes for Prey. The first is Typhon Hunter, which is really just Prop Hunt set in the Prey universe, allowing a number of players to take control of mimics to transform into various items spread across the map.
Another player will play a Transtar employee trying to hunt down the mimics and also survive if they find themselves caught up in a mimic ambush. We don’t have much information aside from that, but it has been confirmed that Typhon Hunter will be available to play on multiple platforms this summer whether you have a VR headset or not.
Additionally, the Typhon Hunter VR update will also include a single player VR exclusive experience that will challenge players to tackle various puzzles in VR as an unnamed Transtar employee trying to make it off Talos I alive.
We know that Typhon Hunter VR is likely coming to PSVR and HTC Vive and it sounds like VR players will be able to play alongside players on a controller or mouse and keyboard, which should be a nice way to keep the servers alive and well for the near future. That said, although Bethesda hasn’t specifically stated that the Oculus Rift will be left out in the cold in terms of VR support, considering their past legal battles with Oculus, you shouldn’t hold your breath.
Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot
The second big VR title coming to Bethesda approved VR headsets is Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot, which will strap players into the shoes of a hacker keeping the resistance alive in post-Nazi invasion 1980’s France. Your job is the same as in every Wolfenstein game, killin’ Nazis, and by the looks of the trailer your ability to hack into different Nazi war machines will give you quite an arsenal of tools to aid the resistance.
Of course, it also kind of matches the plot to Doom VFR, so although it looks fun you shouldn’t expect as much depth as you see in the main Wolfenstein franchise. You can expect to see more of Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot in 2019.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades
Although not strictly a dedicated VR title, Bethesda’s newest foray into the mobile market will also be compatible with mainstream VR and mobile headsets allowing you to take your Blades experience to your favorite VR headset. The Elder Scrolls: Blades is already confirmed to focus on town building, randomly generated infinite dungeons, arena combat and much more, so we can’t wait to see how it adapts to a VR environment, but with Bethesda’s track record we’re optimistic to say the least.
You can learn more on the official Bethesda portal.