How VR Can Revive Dead Videogame Genres
Once-popular genres could get new life with the added immersion of VR technology.
As time passes, tastes change. Technology moves on, the audiences grows up, the market becomes saturated, or there’s just that one awful, unforgivable title that kills the entire genre stone dead. Everything comes in cycles, however, and perhaps there is now life to be found on the videogame graveyard thanks to the power of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Those of a certain age might remember classic titles such as Herzog Zwei, which was arguably the first example of the genre that become known as Real-time Strategy, or RTS. Though incredibly popular in the 1990s, it has faded in popularity in recent times, with only StarCraft II keeping the genre alive for the most part.
VR has already begun to change that with titles such as Korix offering some bare-bones RTS/tower defence gameplay, and more sophisticated RTS elements coming in the from of Brass Tactics from Hidden Path Entertainment, or Skyworld from Vertigo Games. There has also been some movement towards AR titles, which borrow from tabletop wargaming in a way that brings the genre full circle.
Some might suggest that this genre has never really gone away, but its hard to argue that it retains the same popularity as it did back in the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 era. A surge of nostalgia has resulted in re-releases such as the Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, and the recently announced Spyro the Dragon remaster. VR could capitalise on this with some high-quality immersive 3D platformers.
Indeed, the recent success of Moss, with its adorable and endearing protagonist Quill, seems to suggest things are already moving in that direction, and other developers might be keen to follow that success.
Point and Click Adventure
The spirit of the point-and-click adventure has been kept alive by Telltale Games for quite some time, who maintain high standards for storytelling, but even they can’t match the dizzying heights reached by LucasArts back in the day with titles such as Monkey Island.
Story is a key factor in the classic point-and-click adventure, along with exploration and puzzle-solving. As VR experiences become more complex, not to mention more comfortable, story is becoming a serious factor, with recent titles such as Apex Construct and Downward Spiral: Horus Station incorporating elements of classic adventure videogames.
Humour was also a big part of those early point-and-click titles, and several modern VR experiences, such as Island Time VR and Job Simulator have carried that forward. Now, all we need is a title that incorporates all those elements together.
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Fans of titles such as Mechwarrior were hugely invested in the idea of immersion, with some spending hundred, or even thousands, of dollars or pounds on the perfect complicated cockpit control rig.
VR offers a simpler alternative, giving mecha pilots a virtual cockpit to work with instead. With immersion being such a feature of VR, it is somewhat surprising that – aside from the ill-fated Hawken – this hasn’t happened already. Though with the VR adaptation of Zone of the Enders coming in September, it might not be too far off.