Play. Create. Share. In VR.
Undoubtedly one of Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE) biggest and best surprises at this year’s E3 2014 was the reveal of LittleBigPlanet 3, marking the series’ debut on PlayStation 4 and developed by franchise newcomers Sumo Digital. It was an unexpected twist that came early on in the company’s press conference, lighting up the stage with its bright visuals and joyful multiplayer experience. Surely this is a series that SCE would like to see utilised with its Project Morpheus virtual reality (VR) headset?
LittleBigPlanet has typically spearheaded new initiatives with PlayStation. It was one of the first titles to use the PlayStation Eye Camera on PlayStation 3, while its sequel, LittleBigPlanet 2, placed huge emphasis on the PlayStation Move motion controller after the device’s launch. LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is also one of the best examples of the use of PlayStation Vita’s extra features such as the touchpad, and even serves as one of the few places to use the handheld console as a controller for the PlayStation 3.
Admittedly, the series doesn’t seem a perfect fit for VR at a first glance, given its side-scrolling nature. But then again, this is a franchise that is literally about reinventing itself by the moment as users create exciting new levels that redefine what is possible with its creation tools. We wouldn’t have thought of the PlayStation Move as an ideal controller for the series until we got our hands on it, and the same could be true of VR.
VR would bring Sackboy’s world to life in a way that’s not possible on standard screens. How we design and build levels, props, enemies and more could completely change with the aid of stereoscopic 3D and positional tracking. Imagine being able to enter a full sculpting mode, similar to what has already been seen in Make VR, and intricately design new items for a level, perhaps using the PlayStation Move for added precision. It could add a whole new layer to the title’s creation aspect, and pave the way for new types of levels.
Playing those levels could also be radically changed. As seen in Lucky’s Tale on the Oculus Rift, using a VR headset for camera control can provide a new degree of freedom for platform videogames. Not only would we be able to register a sense of depth in jumps that Sackboy takes, but we could be able to look ahead in levels, perhaps integrating unique new mechanics, shining lights where we look in dark spaces, or holding back enemies while we control Sackboy out of the corner of our eyes. The possibilities for this type of title and VR really are endless.
LittleBigPlanet has always been a source of innovation for the PlayStation brand, its consoles and various peripherals. We wouldn’t be surprised to see SCE confirming some sort of Project Morpheus integration with the franchise when the device finally launches. Be it DLC, or a brand new title, let’s hope LittleBigPlanet VR capitalises on its enormous potential.