With new hardware there’s always the promise of new and exciting content, new lands to explore, new ways to play, new visual treats for the eyes, new…well basically new stuff all round. What’s far less exciting is regurgitation of old content, we’ve tasted it before and it was good, but the second time just isn’t as flavourful. Facebook is prepping for a big year with two headset launches soon, the most exciting of which is the Oculus Quest. Yet the content line-up – while ever growing – is primarily everyone porting their old titles over, with very little in the way of fresh and original content.
When Oculus Rift first arrived there was plenty of interesting titles to choose from, as you’d expect, but for such a seminal launch as Oculus Quest, up till now at least, I’ve not been bowled over by what’s available.
From a current virtual reality (VR) studio standpoint, I can completely understand the need to port your videogame to the new system. There are some big expectations resting on Oculus Quest’s shoulders. As a standalone unit with inside-out tracking it’s being marketed as easy to use, VR that’s simple to operate, great for the masses. As such, bringing your videogame over from Oculus Rift makes complete sense, and there are some awesome experiences being squeezed onto the mobile device. Videogames like Apex Construct, Space Pirate Trainer, Robo Recall, Creed: Rise to Glory, Moss, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and I Expect You To Die, just to name a few. While some of these are relatively new, some are quite old in comparison – would you buy a Tesla with 70s brown interior?
I’m well aware that several new titles have been announced, and they total five, Sports Scramble, Shadow Point, Journey of the Gods, Dead & Buried II and Dance Central – Vader Immortal looks amazing but I am talking videogames here. Of those only Shadow Point and Journey of the Gods hold any interest – the others involve a sequel and a dead franchise being brought back – as both Coatsink and Turtle Rock Studios have decent histories in the VR field.
With a launch date expected to be coming soon – fingers crossed for F8 2019 – and that ‘Spring 2019’ window closing ever faster, I’m hoping Oculus is saving the best for last. Suddenly coming out of nowhere with a flurry of VR content. Otherwise, who’s actually buying an Oculus Rift on launch day? If you’re a keen VR fan closely following Oculus news then there’s a good chance you own the Oculus Rift. Why would you want to buy a new headset for £400 GBP/ $400 USD – albeit wireless – that’s less powerful to play videogames you’ve probably already got – yey cross-buy – you want it for new stuff, right?
New users – especially those to VR – on the other hand probably won’t care, but are less likely to buy a launch day unit as they’re not early adopters.
The VR industry is filled with talented developers that have managed to solve all sorts of problems with the technology, whether that’s how to move, how to achieve 90 FPS, how not to cause nausea in players or simply making experiences more social. Go to a generic videogame event like the Game Developers Conference (GDC) to see the quality of VR on offer. So surely a brand new headset can have a little something special rustled up?
In all likelyhood, I’m probably worrying for nothing and I’ll be like a kid in a sweet shop on launch day. I don’t expect every new headset – HTC Vive anyone? – to come with a fresh assortment of groundbreaking content ( I’m all for retro gaming), it’s just that VR stills needs to become more mainstream than it is, only achieving that by moving forward both hardware and software wise.