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VR vs. Alien: Isolation

E3 2014 provided a glimpse of something that many virtual reality (VR) fans have been clamouring for since Oculus VR first launched its Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) in 2012. While the indie community has done an admirable job showcasing VR so far, enthusiasts have been pining to see what a big budget development studio could do with the technology. And that’s exactly what they got at the videogame industry’s biggest show in June as The Creative Assembly revealed a playable VR prototype of its upcoming sci-fi horror experience, Alien: Isolation.

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True, both EVE: Valkyrie and Project CARS are coming from well supported, experienced teams, but many were hoping to see something outside of space crafts and fast cars. The demo for Aliens: Isolation, available from Oculus VR’s own booth, delivered on this by giving players full control of Amanda Ripley as she scurried through the dank hallways of the Sevastopo space station in an attempt to escape the horrific, iconic Xenomorph first made famous in Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien. Succeed, and you were treated to a genuine sense of accomplishment. Fail, and it was something of a grizzly end for the player.

As promising as the demo was, fans were disappointed to hear that this demo would remain purely in prototype stages; The Creative Assembly wouldn’t confirm that Oculus Rift support would be available for the title’s 7th October 2014 release. Now just a week away from the launch that statement sadly still rings true, with no word on if the title will ever see full integration with VR HMDs. That said, recent events have again called into question if such a release could happen.

Following E3, Alien: Isolation was again shown at Gamescom 2014, albeit this time behind closed doors. This was a move that kept the demo away from the public that also got to attend the show.  One can understand that, if the full title won’t support VR, Oculus VR and The Creative Assembly would want to avoid confusion by letting the masses experience the horror in VR.

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With this in mind, it was surprising to see Alien: Isolation freely on display in VR at last week’s EGX London event in Earls Court, London. The demo, which appeared to be the same that was featured at E3, was one of a number of titles available to sample at Oculus VR’s official booth. This begs the question, has something changed? Could Alien: Isolation now be on course for VR support?

With the title’s launch just seven days away, it’s doubtful that The Creative Assembly and publisher SEGA would announced support now. Of course, that doesn’t rule out VR compatibility ever arriving given that the Oculus Rift itself doesn’t have a consumer HMD on the market just yet. If support is coming, it would far more likely arrive with a HMD that everyone can use as opposed to one for developers and enthusiasts that can’t wait. The same can be said for possible support for the Project Morpheus HMD for Alien: Isolation’s PlayStation 4 version, although this is yet to even be hinted at by the developer.

This is all purely speculation on VRFocus’ part, then, but this is hopefully an encouraging sign that VR support for Alien: Isolation is moving forward. The developers themselves certainly speak passionately about the technology. VRFocus will continue to follow the title moving forward, reporting back with any further updates about its VR support.

‘VR vs’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes an issue currently challenging the VR industry and discusses how to fix it. Looking at everything from the videogames in development to the strength of the technology, we highlight the problems and try to come up with the best solutions.