Preview: Loading Human on Project Morpheus

It comes as something of a relief to finally play Loading Human, Untold Games’ anticipated virtual reality (VR) adventure title, on Project Morpheus. The developer has a long history of stating its intent to bring the videogame to PlayStation 4 with support for the head-mounted display (HMD), but it’s spent most of its existence as an Oculus Rift-only project. Finally, though, the team was able to showcase a port at E3 in June. Loading Human is making progress in terms of platforms, then, but the demo itself suggested Untold Games still has some kinks to work out.

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Loading Human’s 3-minute E3 2015 demo takes place in the messy apartment of protagonist Prometheus, the same environment that anyone following the title will have already seen at past events. Rather than learning more about the plot, the player is simply given the chance to look around the area and interact with certain objects, only now using the PlayStation Move motion controllers instead of the Razer Hydras seen in the past.

That’s disappointing, given that it’s been well over a year since VRFocus last had a chance to see the videogame in action. At the same time, it’s somewhat understandable given the new hardware and Untold Games’ admirable reluctance to spoil its sci-fi story. Instead, this was a demo more concerned with acclimatisation. Rather than completing a task or defeating enemies, mastering the new controls was the challenge set here, as there are some glaring differences between the PlayStation Move and other controllers, the most notable being the lack of analogue sticks.

As you might imagine, this presents some real issues for a first-person videogame, but it’s something that Untold Games is tackling head-on. Two control schemes were on offer, with the first asking the player to twist that motion controllers to position their body. Easily the more preferable of the two was the second, in which Project Morpheus’ head-tracking essentially replaces the functions of the right analogue stick. Though in need of refinement, a few minutes with this scheme proved much more liberating than the first.

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Combining this with using the main Move button to walk forwards didn’t completely remove the longing for two analogue sticks, but wasn’t such a barrier to entry. That said, the 3-minute timer for the demo certainly didn’t do it any favours. Even for an experienced VR user, this wasn’t enough time to learn some of the more basic controls such as crouching, which the player would need to do to pick up objects on the floor. This created an inadvertent sense of urgency to simple tasks that needed to be practised rather than carried out as quickly as possible.

The demo did, however, demonstrate how Untold Games is making some smart contributions to the ongoing struggle for total immersion in first-person VR experience. When setting up the title, the player is able to select their height, which it will then use to give an approximation of arm length. Though choosing the wrong height can result in a messy experience, this is an interesting solution to an issue that few are yet to properly address. In fact, putting in the wrong height actually demonstrated the importance to solving this issue, as using elongated arms felt alien while shorter ones caused frustration and problems with positioning.

While this may have been more of a proof-of-concept showing for the Project Morpheus version than anything else, it’s way past time fans saw more from Loading Human. Untold Games’ work with motion control is looking to make for a promising first-attempt at true presence within a VR videogame but it needs still needs fine tuning. It also requires use cases that go beyond placing a vinyl on a record player or picking up a glass and pretending to drink from it. Loading Human is going to live and die by these interactions, and Untold Games will hopefully start showing its true potential in the near future.

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