You’re surrounded. A swarm of enemies circle around you, one of which is daring to make the first move. You scan the room for the weak link, mind racing through options. Your hands reach down for Ebony and Ivory, preparing to fire at a moment’s notice. One grunt rushes and, before you know it, you’re caught up in a lightning-fast combo that sends them flying across the area. The rest ready themselves to rush in. You place your hand on your trusty sword, Rebellion, and prepare for the next round.
If there’s a videogame genre that’s yet to see much support in the way of virtual reality (VR) it’s most likely the third-person action genre. Understandably, there are plenty of sci-fi and horror experiences in development and even other third-person genres such as top-down shooters and platform experiences have seen VR integration. Despite all of this, this popular genre remains virtual untouched in VR. This week marks the return of Devil May Cry, one of the most popular action franchises of all with the release of DmC: Remastered on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That begs the question; could Dante work in VR?
Let’s get something out of the way; Devil May Cry should never go to first-person. Yes, this perspective is critical for a player becoming truly immersed in the role of another character, but in this case that simply comes at too high a cost. Instead, it would be better to see the series adopt the approach of the likes of Lucky’s Tale and offer an immersive experience in which the player feels as if they are hovering above the world rather than directly stepping into it. This still creates an incredibly engaging experience that would bring the franchise’s celebrated combat to life like never before.
VR’s head-tracking technology could also play a role in the series’ mechanics. Whether it’s the original titles or the recent reboot, Dante always has his pistols by his side, making for a refreshing way to break up the heavy sword strikes and take care of distant enemies. With VR it could be possible to take sword in one hand and pistol in the other, attacking enemies in close-range with the former while using head-tracking to look and target others with the pistol. It’s entirely new mechanics such as this that give real potential to a VR adaption of Devil May Cry. Imagine using that head tracking to create a natural flow of attacks, darting back and forth between opponents.
No, third-person action experiences aren’t the most immediately obvious of videogames to adapt to VR. But with careful consideration of optimisation the technology could bring new features to the tried and true mechanics, all the while making the action more immersive and exciting than ever before.