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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Destiny

While it’s easy to get tired of the sheer amount of first-person shooters (FPS) in today’s videogame climate, it’s hard to deny their simply joys. Their accessibility and instant payoff make them the ideal test bed for new consoles, controllers and technologies. That said, traditional FPS videogames undoubtedly prove something of a conundrum for virtual reality (VR) technology at this stage. Without a gun to hold in player’s own hands as they take cover and return fire, immersion can be broken instantly. There’s also the issue of keeping pace with some of the more fast-paced entries in the genre such as Call of Duty, which even the Oculus Rift’s second development kit (DK2) may struggle to meet demands of without players getting simulator sickness.

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Fortunately, Bungie’s Destiny wouldn’t suffer from the latter issue. Released this week, the anticipated shooter from the Halo developer establishes a decidedly heavier feel to its gunplay, requiring less in the instant reactions department and allowing players to acclimatise to its plodding battles in which bullets chip away at health bars and players carefully upgrade their gear. The jury is still out on if Destiny is quite the revolution that Bungie and publisher Activision would have us believe it is, but we know one thing for sure; we’d love to see it in VR.

Destiny’s often gloats at how pretty it is, showcasing stunning vistas in the distance while players do battle in archaic, beautiful ruins on Earth and beyond. Say what you will about the title’s brand of RPG-esque gameplay; Destiny creates a stunning sense of place with its understated soundtrack and regular moments of tranquility between fights. We’ve been to the Moon in videogames before, but not quite as how Destiny offers it with a varied and highly-detailed landscape. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to visit these locations in VR?

Of course, the aforementioned problem with holding weapons does persist, and without an acceptable alternative to input, there currently isn’t a solution to becoming completely immersed in experiences such as Destiny. We can talk about motion controllers and treadmills all we want, but for one they aren’t actually released yet and their effectiveness as creating a fully immersive experience is still yet to be decided.

Destiny’s main draw to VR is in its setting then, and perhaps its potential to become a fully living and breathing universe in which friends can meet up and properly interact with their avatars. This is of course one of the grand dreams of VR in general and we hope that when it’s fully realised, Bungie jumps on board with the technology.

‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets.