PlayStation VR in 2018
What’s in store for mass-market VR next year?
This year was the first time virtual reality games really began to feel at least somewhat mainstream. It’s definitely true that VR games are still a relatively niche product category, but it’s easy to forget just how far the technology (and the content) has come.
Many of us remember the ill-fated Virtual Boy from Nintendo, which launched in 1995 and — while it sure had plenty of moxy — its stark, nausea-inducing black-and-red wireframe graphics, as well as its awkward tabletop playing position, pretty much ensured it would never catch on.
But Nintendo weren’t alone in the belief that VR held great promise; throughout much of the early ’90s, many in the gaming industry thought that some combination of virtual reality and “multimedia” would be the future of digital entertainment. The Virtual Boy was preceded (or could have been preceded) by the Sega VR, a headset that ultimately never saw public release due to its apparent penchant for inducing headaches and nausea.
As the ’90s rolled on, talk of VR seemed to slip away; the hill was simply too high to climb, given the need to somehow deliver highly-advanced technology at prices that would be realistic for consumers.
And now, here we are at the end of 2017, and there are no less than three major VR platforms on the market (that’s if you don’t count mobile VR, at least). At the very high-end of the spectrum you have the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive; two platforms that require powerful PC hardware to drive their highly sophisticated and clever tech. At the low end — or perhaps, the middle (again, if you include mobile VR) — is the PlayStation VR.
Not long ago, Sony announced it had sold 2 million units of PlayStation VR. This may not sound like much, but it’s insanely impressive, given how VR gaming languished in the never-never for well over twenty years.
The first year of PlayStation VR has been impressive, too. We’ve seen strong support from Sony, and growing interest from third-party developers. From awesome titles like Superhot VR, Thumper, and Superhypercube to major, big-budget releases like Resident Evil 7 and Skyrim VR, it’s fair to say that Sony isn’t simply dabbling in this emerging space — they’re out to be the dominant VR platform, and so far, they’re apparently succeeding.
Now that we’re only a couple of weeks away from 2018, the big question is: where will PlayStation VR go from here? Well, as it turns out, next year is looking pretty bright.
Here are just some of the games I’m looking forward to on PlayStation VR in 2018.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
Developed by Owlchemy Labs
This has got to be one of the perfect franchises for a virtual reality experience. Rick and Morty is all about adventures spanning across bizarre dimensions, and this concept is leveraged to full effect in Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality.
Like many other VR titles, this game doesn’t seek to replicate the structure of traditional games. It looks like a grab-bag of different small gameplay concepts bundled together, which should mean that it will offer plenty of variety, while also allowing for brief play sessions if you so desire.
So, what do you actually do in this game? Well, uh, you solve puzzles! You explore alternative dimensions! You control your own Youseeks! If you’re familiar with Job Simulator, you’ll have a good idea of how this game plays (in fact, it’s made by the same developers).
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is already available on PC, but it’ll be coming to PlayStation VR in early 2018.
The American Dream
Developed by Samurai Punk
I have to admit, I have a soft spot for this one; it’s made by Samurai Punk, a small indie studio based in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The team may be small, but the game is ambitious; it’s a hilariously satirical take on American gun culture.
The gameplay premise couldn’t be more simple: perform menial, day-to-day tasks with guns. That’s it. Drive your car with guns, eat a meal with guns, and even do your day job with guns! Sounds glorious, right?
In terms of pure mechanics, The American Dream reminds me a little of The London Heist mini-game in PlayStation VR Worlds, in the sense that it’s a dual-wielding shooter where you’re essentially sitting in one place as the game ferries you between different destinations, each with a specific shooting challenge.
The American Dream is expected to launch sometime in 2018 across all major VR platforms.
Firewall: Zero Hour
Developed by First Contact Entertainment
Here’s a type of game I’ve really been looking forward to for a while: it’s a 4 vs 4 tactical first-person shooter. The reason I’ve been wanting a game like this is because so many VR experiences are solitary in nature, and although there are exceptions, Firewall: Zero Hour looks like a VR experience that strives for realism in a multiplayer setting, especially when it comes to aiming and firing your weapon, and physically leaning around corners.
It’s also pretty cool that there are multiple control options as well, so you can use something like the Aim Controller for a more realistic experience, or you can simply use the Dual Shock.
Wipeout Omega Collection
Developed by XDev, Clever Beans, EPOS Game Studios
This is a game which you’re either going to really love in VR, or which might make you sick. Either way, I’m eagerly awaiting it, in part because the original Wipeout Omega Collection was so good, and was such great value.
In case you aren’t familiar with this game, it’s basically a remaster of Wipeout HD, Wipeout HD Fury and Wipeout 2048. To give you a further sense of the game’s scale, Wipeout HD itself was a remaster that included content from both Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse. Phew. So, if you’re a fan of this franchise at all, Wipeout Omega Collection is a bit of a motherlode.
From a pure content perspective, Wipeout Omega Collection promises to be one of the most expansive games for PlayStation VR yet. But even better, the VR version will feature full 3D audio, cockpit head-tracking, and apparently no sacrifice in visual fidelity from the original release.
Wipeout is one of those games that’s always been begging for a VR release, in my opinion. Sitting so close to the track in your own hovercraft, barreling around futuristic race tracks at breakneck speed listening to thumping beats…does it get much better? Probably not. That’s why I can’t wait to pick this one up in 2018.
These are my most-anticipated 2018 releases for PlayStation VR, but there are actually quite a lot of titles due to be released next year. I’m keen to learn more about Torn by Aspyr, and I’m pretty excited about The Inpatient by Supermassive Games (although I really don’t know how long I’ll be able to last in such a high-fidelity VR horror experience…).
What PlayStation VR games are you looking forward to in 2018? Maybe 2018 will be the time when you jump into VR for the very first time — if so, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.