VR is going full throttle, and you may have already splurged on a VR headset with reckless abandon. But, the reality is that virtual reality has only just arrived, so there’s more chance that you’re hanging back to observe the proceedings before picking up a HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Gear VR or another headset.
To gauge the mood of the UK’s gaming nation (well, a small sample of it anyway), we took to the PC Gamer Weekender show floor to ask attendees whether or not they plan to buy a VR headset in 2016, and what games they think would be a good fit for virtual reality.
From raging VR enthusiasts to cautious gaming Carols, we’ve identified 12 types of games with distinct attitudes toward VR. The question is: which one are you?
1. The fitness fanatic
“I’m planning on buying the HTC Vive this year. It uses 360-degree movement, so you’re not limited to seeing what’s in front of you. It’s also very precise — especially the hand controllers that are available now. The availability of those controllers places it above the Oculus Rift for me.
“Most Vive games also take advantage of audio, which is good if you do a lot of exercise instead of just sitting in front of the computer. Hover Junkers is one of the coolest games for the Vive, and there’s another game with music and rhythms where you have to hit objects coming from the sky.”
2. The headset hoarder
“I had the first Oculus Prototype when it came out, and then I got the Samsung Gear VR. HTC’s Vive is finally coming of age — I ordered five of them and am waiting for them to arrive! I think the Vive will be better than Oculus for entertainment, but due to things like room constraints in the home today, most people will be buying Oculus.
“Apart from people who play Elite Dangerous and flying simulators, I don’t think Oculus is going to attract many types of gamers. Until it comes with something like gloves, or maybe a Virtuix Omni combo, I don’t think it will make the cut.”
3. The willing observer
“I probably won’t be buying a VR headset this year because I’m hoping one of my friends does. I’m hoping that he can be a sort of VR hub, and when I want to play I’ll go to his and not actually make the large investment myself.
“He already has an Oculus Developer’s Kit and we’re just trying the Vive now. It seems like the better of the two. On the Oculus, you could sort of see the individual pixels a bit more, whereas with the Vive once you’re in it and it’s working, you don’t really notice them as much.”
4. The adventurer
“I remember the very first Oculus demo they had at E3 which was this lava lord-type enemy in a Skyrim-esque castle. It was snowing outside. Nothing really happens — you shoot some kind of spell but it doesn’t really do anything.
“Anyway, this lava guy stands up in front of you and the sheer scale of it blows your mind. It’s like, imagine if you were playing Skyrim or something like Borderlands and you and three others turn up.
“There’s this weird empowerment thing going on – you’re like, ‘I can totally do this!’. It’s the scale thing. Even on the big screen you never that horrible sense of, ‘This lava dude could literally stand on me and there’s not a lot I can do about it’. That’s really cool!”
5. The money saver
“I’m not getting a VR headset straight away in 2016, but I’d like to get one eventually. That would be great. I’ve only just bought my new desktop tower, so I’ll wait until I’ve saved up. I think with emerging technology, stuff needs to come out on the market first. But we’ll see what this is like — I’ll sign up and have a go on it.
“I think the more immersive games will be great in VR – like Killing Floor 2. If that was more immersive you’d properly get right into it and you’d feel amazing. But something like – what’s the name of that game – Mirror’s Edge? That would be incredible. Or integrate VR into a racing game. You could combine a racing chair with a headset – that would be brilliant.”
6. The skeptic
“I’m not buying a VR headset in 2016 – I have no interest in it really. I like the idea, but prefer to sit in front of my computer screen and just use a mouse or keyboard, or whatever. I don’t really want to wander around my bedroom into things.
“I’m just not interested. I don’t think it will appeal to others as not everyone has a mansion to play in.”
7. The knowledgeable consumer
“I’m getting PlayStation VR because I have a PS4 and a PC, and I think it’s better to have hardware made by a games company. Sony are pushing their own games and their own exclusive titles.
“I also like the fact that developers will know there’s only one spec system they’ll be making games for rather than a PC, some of which won’t be powerful enough to run the games — and you will need a high-end PC to run them. On the PS4 everything will be uniform, which is definitely an advantage for them. I also have faith in Sony putting through some decent exclusives as well, so that will be good.
“First-person shooters will be interesting, but they can’t just dump a normal FPS from a console or PC and expect it to be amazing in VR; they’re going to have to redevelop it from the ground up, taking into account things like controls and ways of looking around, so I think it’s going to take a few years before they get the most out of it.”
8. The sports fan
“Most of the games I’ve seen for the Vive are pretty cool. There was a mini-golf one, and I like the idea of having an entire mini-golf course in your room. I’m not sure if there’s multiplayer for that yet, but if you could switch it so it’s between two, you could have a whole re-matching and party game system, which would be fun.
“There’s also an archery game that looks pretty fun – It’s difficult, though. It’s a perspective thing – I’m not sure how well it lines up. I think there’s also Fruit Ninja, where you use a controller like a katana, which is pretty cool.”
9. The builder of worlds
“I’m probably going to go for the Sony VR because I don’t want to have to upgrade my PC. I’m of the assumption that it’s pretty much plug and play into the console, and it’s the cheapest option. I demoed it at EGX last year and it seemed pretty good — quite lightweight too.
“I want to play Minecraft initially. I’m not really sure if that’s going to be playable on the PlayStation VR – I’ve only seen it on Oculus Rift – but it’s kind of my main game. When I demoed the PlayStation VR at EGX last year there was some sort of tank game that was quite a lot of fun, so I fancy playing that one again.”
10. The cautious optimist
“I’ll probably get a VR headset in 2016 at some point, but not immediately. That’s partly down to me wanting to save up, and partly down to seeing what comes out on top. It’s always dangerous to be a first adopter, as they say.
“I think I would get a Vive because of Valve’s support, which I think will do a lot for it. I’ve got a fairly small flat, but even so looking at the space I’ve got, I can still set up room scale at least on a small scale. First person shooters are an obvious fit for VR, and I think RPGs would get a lot from it — a new take on an old genre, type of thing.”
11. The considerate one
“As a man with not very much room to move around in when playing games, the Vive’s space requirements are a bit of a drawback. But I think it’s definitely worth the pain if it works really well. I think the space needed is about the size of most people’s living rooms, so I’m not sure if I can say, ‘Hey! I need the house for a few hours.’ I dunno. Maybe I could.”
12. The researcher
“I’m planning to get a VR headset this year – I’ve already started saving money for one. I’m thinking about getting one next Christmas – I’ve got the kit for it and tried all of them except for the Samsung Gear VR, which doesn’t look very good. I don’t know yet – I don’t really like any of them.”
“I think the first generation is still quite ‘first generation’ in the sense that the resolution is quite low, and they’re not convenient to wear for a long time. I tried Vive a couple of months ago at Microsoft’s conference in London and found it uncomfortable after 20 minutes, so I can’t see myself playing games for hours in VR.”
“My second concern is that I don’t see VR as being playable generally. It’s only a niche product for very niche games. It’s going to be perfect for games like Elite Dangerous or Eve Valkyrie or European Truck Simulator – so any kind of game where you have to sit.
“In any game where you have to move, the immersion completely breaks down because you have a controller in your hand. And because we don’t live in the US where they have huge mansions – we have small UK apartments – you can’t have a room like that for Vive. It’s just not possible.”