Last year independent developers Phaser Lock came out of seemingly nowhere with the reveal of Final Approach, a high-quality virtual reality (VR) videogame obviously inspired by the likes of Flight Control on mobile devices. Debuting on the HTC Vive, Final Approach was a breath of fresh air from the many technical demonstrations and serious experiences shown in VR as, quite simply, it was a vertical slice of a fun videogame. Following the reveal Final Approach has been confirmed for Oculus Rift with Oculus Touch support also, but how will the 360 degree videogame hold up with Oculus VR’s more limited tracking space?
As with many similar titles designed for HTC Vive and making the jump to Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch, Phaser Lock enthuse about the possibilities of placing Oculus Touch trackers – known as Constellation – both in front and behind the play space. However, VRFocus maintains that it will only be the very core demographic that will opt for the additional purchase and enhance their set-up to enable this. For the average gamer jumping into VR for the first time, Final Approach may struggle on Oculus VR’s hardware compared to the HTC Vive edition.
The basic mechanic of the videogame is the guidance of planes onto and from runways. The player must select a plane simply by touching it, then draw a line to bring it safely down to ground level. The line the player draws can be as elaborate as they wish, spinning through the skies with abandon for turning arcs or the safety of the passengers aboard, however the planes themselves will intelligently follow the path as best they can, taking into account the real-world properties of such demands upon the vessel.
While directing the air traffic, the player can move about the map as they wish from a ‘god’ perspective. On HTC Vive there are no issues with this, as the player is tracked accurately throughout the space in 360 degrees. However, with Oculus Touch there are significant issues with occlusion: should the next plane the player wishes to interact with be behind, turning to face the vessel will often disrupt the tracking of the Oculus Touch controllers, making guidance an infuriating activity at the best of times or losing any tracking at all at the worst.
The solution to this, as stated above, will appear simple to the core demographic of VR enthusiasts who have already pre-ordered their Oculus Rift head-mounted display (HMD) and secured their place in the Oculus Touch pre-order queue. However, in the grand scheme of VR’s potential audience, these early adopters are a very small percentage of those who would be willing to invest in a fun videogame experience such as Final Approach, and the mass market are less likely to be willing to offer additional investment or be equipped with the technical know-how to make the most out of Final Approach on Oculus Rift in its current form.
Given the quality of the design of Final Approach for HTC Vive and the immediately accessible gameplay for both editions of the videogame, VRFocus is confident that Phaser Lock will come up with an inventive way to overcome the issue of occlusion with Oculus Touch given that 360 degree tracking is inherent to the style of the videogame. However, given the 2 vertical slices witnessed thus far, the Oculus Rift edition is most certainly an inferior product to the highly anticipated HTC Vive version of Final Approach.