Virtual reality (VR) fans have learned to temper their expectations when it comes to PlayStation press conferences. Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE’s) PlayStation VR head-mounted display (HMD) is fast approaching, and yet the company has repeatedly chosen to hold back on the information blowout at events over the past 2 years. The most memorable example of this was E3 2015, where SCE spent less than 3 minutes talking about PlayStation VR. It was safe to say that no one was expecting much from the device at last night’s Paris Games Week (PGW) briefing, then, but the company actually hosted the best showcase for its device yet.
SCE’s Shuhei Yoshida has long been one of the major evangelists of PlayStation VR, and last night got to take to that stage to talk about several new projects for the device. Details on hardware release were still held back, but this was more than made up for in some of the exciting software reveals the company had to make.
At first it seemed like this was to be another passing mention of PlayStation VR; Yoshida confirmed the VR line-up for PGW with no new software on display. He then went on to mention Guerrilla Cambridge’s RIGS: Mechanised Combat League, perhaps the most promising PlayStation VR title on the horizon at the moment but still nothing new. In a case of diminishing returns, this was frustrating to watch, but with the old out of the way, SCE started to focus on the new.
Following up on rumours from last week, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was confirmed. A first-person shooter, Supermassive Games’ VR spin-off doesn’t seem to be closely connected to the story-based original that proved to be a surprise hit earlier this year, but the characters and universe it created are ripe for VR integration. Either way, it’s a welcome addition for PlayStation VR’s growing line-up, and bringing the name of a promising new horror franchise over to the device will certainly help grow interest.
The same can be said for the other major first-party announcement of the night: Gran Turismo Sport. Polyphony Digital’s latest entry into the ever-popular racing simulation franchise will support PlayStation VR and – although expected – that’s huge news. Gran Turismo is one of SCE’s biggest-selling series and recognised by millions around the globe. Tying PlayStation VR to the name is a big win for the technology and could very well be for Gran Turismo Sport itself, as the chance to try the ultra-realistic driving in VR could eliminate a barrier to entry for many. Combine that support with a racing wheel peripheral and PlayStation VR could very well have the perfect VR experience on its hands.
What was even more encouraging, however, was to see third-party support for the device out in full force. Indie developers are flocking to PlayStation VR – no doubt making up many of the 200 teams working on the kit – but last night we saw 2 big developers pledge support for the kit. The first was Crytek, which confirmed that its new IP, Robinson: The Journey, would be arriving exclusively on PlayStation VR. This looks to be a full VR adventure that builds on the company’s impressive Back to Dinosaur Island tech demos. Combined with the power the company’s own CryENGINE, there’s potential here to prove that PlayStation VR won’t be lagging behind its PC-based competitors when it comes to performance.
The more surprising third-party announcement came from Bandai Namco Entertainment. SCE confirmed that Tekken 7, which was finally revealed to be heading to the west, would support PlayStation VR. Those that follow VRFocus may have been expecting this, as series producer Katsuhiro Harada is known to be a big VR fan, having worked on PlayStation VR’s Summer Lesson, but it was still intriguing to see the first full fighting videogame to get VR support.
Rounding out third-parties were brief mentions of Rebellion’s Battlezone, which will be heading to PlayStation VR first, and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Walk. The latter obviously isn’t strictly third-party, but both added further weight to the fact that PlayStation VR is being taken seriously by external companies.
Still, there were some more frustrating omissions from the line-up. Both Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky and Media Molecule’s Dreams, both heavily rumoured to be supporting PlayStation VR, came and went without so much as a mention of the device, and there’s still the aforementioned army of indie developers waiting in the wings to announce support, but there’s always another day for these.
This was ultimately still a brief section on PlayStation VR, and we’re expecting far more from SCE at later shows like December’s PlayStation Experience in San Francisco, but it was encouraging to see the company back the kit with strong software support at PGW. We should finally have the kit in our hands in a maximum of 8 months’ time, and we’re now more confident than ever that SCE will be able to deliver to goods when it comes to VR videogames.