From an outsider’s perspective, where I currently sit, VR seems very niche. It doesn’t feel much like something a console or PC gamer like me would just dive into. My retro collection is very large, nearly 10 times the size of games I have bought for current generation consoles. So, what’s the appeal for me? Am I just here to bash another possible “gimmick?” No. We are here to discern why a very retro-style gamer such as myself may want to pick up and play VR games. Why someone like myself may want this next-gen experience. Or maybe I am skeptical? Is it possible for a retro-gamer not unlike myself to find the idea of playing VR still more gimmicky than practical? We are here to dive into The VR Experience: Outside Looking In.
The VR Experience… What is going through my mind?
While 10 years ago, or even five, I would have dropped the idea entirely, it doesn’t seem so bad nowadays. It’s generally plugged into the back of the headset, and you use motion controllers as hands. It seems pretty cut and dry, from my own perspective. As an outsider looking in, it at first doesn’t sound like a great idea, or even a good one. The system as a whole seems kind of “meh”. For some, or even a great deal of others, that may be true. However, from someone who has seen video games evolving from almost the starting point, it sounds decent. It may not sound like the best experience you can get out of gaming, but my belief is that if done correctly, it will change everything. From story, to mood, it can change personal perception.
Watching some trailers for video games, my thoughts on certain games blew my mind. Lo and behold, they happened to be VR-only. As a gamer, this deters me slightly, but only because the tech is so expensive at current prices. For someone who is strictly looking at games, those trailers do well in drawing you in. It looks as if the VR experience might not be such a niche thing in the future, at least for gaming. Looking at the Black Friday ads for the PS VR bundle made me excited. It also made me look up all the games and different versions of VR headsets. I had seen VR games before, trailers and gameplay. Most didn’t seem too user-friendly. The games, even being reviewed, often didn’t seem worth the VR headset expense. Although, it seems to be such a radical experience when you do get a hold of it.
The Games! So.. Many.. Games!
With the VR experience, I would be lying if I said my jealousy didn’t show a bit. So far, there have been many games released for VR specifically. Some may even be VR-optional. Some personal favorites currently released are Deracine, Disaster Report 4, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. Not having played these games, but watching gameplay, the developers have sold me. Does that mean they sold me on the VR experience as a whole?
The VR experience with each game is vastly different. One attempts to frighten you, the other attempts to tell a story, while another goes for strict emotion. Each one in itself seems like they would evoke the same level of what games attempt to do, whether VR or not. From an outsider looking in, you have to look at feedback from other gamers. I’m not talking about online “journalists” — believe me when I say we will save that for another topic — but streamers/YouTubers. You must also look into gameplay, comparing experiences of a main game to the VR. Many of those videos by themselves helped change my views.
What I thought then and now…
While the “VR experience” may seem foreign from an outsider, it looks awesome if you set the headset aside just to look at the games. You may think the headsets are all clunky and stupid, and it certainly looks that way. From an outsider looking in, it certainly feels that way without ever really experiencing it. However, from a retro-gamer’s perspective such as my own, I plan to purchase at least the base set. There are bundles, but they can get pretty expensive. The PS VR headset is still possibly the best purchase for those on a budget, at least in my opinion. Oculus is still seen as the champ when it comes to a wearable VR headset, still being pretty expensive and probably the most PC hardware-intensive. HTC is comparable and is seen on running better on decent hardware machines, but an expensive option. PS VR runs on the much more affordable PS4.
Tell me even five years before now, and I probably would laugh the whole idea off as nothing more than an experiment. Ever since the Virtual Boy, the concept was sound. All the pieces were there. VR just never quite got off the ground, or went mainstream, until recently. Someone like me is ready to buy into this. At the moment, I plan on getting a PS VR, which would mean a new PS4. This, in turn, may actually make it more expensive than the current Oculus Rift. It’s unclear whether or not my PC can handle it, but there is always a third option. That would be to wait until the next iteration of the PlayStation. We don’t know the complete make-up of the system, but it is unlikely Sony will skip VR with even their most basic of machines.