All the Virtual Reality Highlights from E3 2017

E3 Logo is a registered trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. Used under Fair Use
E3 Logo is a registered trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. Used under Fair Use

E3 Logo is a registered trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. Used under Fair Use

Another year, another round of the Electronic Entertainment Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. As the absolute centre of gaming, all eyes have been on the event to present the biggest showcase for upcoming hardware, games and major developments.

Needless to say it hasn’t disappointed VR fans. While there wasn’t a major hardware release like Sony’s PSVR last year, there were a lot of major VR developments across the board. We have already covered Sony’s unveilings during their PSVR presentation in its own article, but that is far from the only major announcement for VR at E3.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Image Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft

Microsoft’s presentation was dominated by the unveiling of the Xbox One X, the console formerly known as Project Scorpio, so no formal announcements have been made besides the revelation that the follow up to the formerly Oculus exclusive Lucky’s Tale, Super Lucky’s Tale, will be released on the Xbox One and One X. That said, Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox at Microsoft has apparently confirmed to CNET that VR will be supported, although no details were forthcoming. Looks like the rumour mill will be spinning for at least another year.

Image Credit: Bethesda

Image Credit: Bethesda

Bethesda

Besthesda Softworks were far more in with VR. Along with Skyrim VR that was revealed at Sony’s presentation, Bethesda also revealed more information about Fallout 4 VR and Doom VFR (The “F” of course standing for “fantastic” I’m sure), including that Fallout 4 VR is coming out in the autumn with full locomotion as an option, while Doom VFR is sticking with the “blink” movement seen in successive trailers, including at E3.

Whilst all three of Bethesda’s offerings are both ports of existing games, they are essentially the vanguard. If F4 VR and DOOM VFR do well, they will prove that full sized games can do well in VR, and lead to more dedicated VR development.

Image Credit: Ready At Dawn

Image Credit: Ready At Dawn

Intel

Intel’s announcements were a bit all over the place, announcing a mix of new processors, sponsorships for VR E-Sports leagues, as well as partnerships with Oculus and God of War developers Ready At Dawn. The biggest centrepiece was probably their two VR games. Echo Arena is Ready at Dawn’s Oculus exclusive Frisbee game in zero gravity with a neon futuristic atmosphere reminiscent of games like Rocket League, while Lone Echo is an atmospheric zero gravity adventure, with the ability to pick up objects and fling them around for inertias. It has been seen before as the tech demo with the incredible hand physics.

Also there’s going to be a Linkin Park themed VR experience, but In The End does that even matter?

Image Credit: Ubisoft, Spectrevision

Image Credit: Ubisoft, Spectrevision

Ubisoft

Ubisoft had a rather good showing all around, with Beyond Good and Evil 2 alone ensuring that pretty much everyone will hand the prize of “winning” E3 to them. That alone is amazing enough, but for VR they weren’t exactly slacking either, with the oblique announcement of Transference, a game by Elijah Wood’s studio that is currently mysterious, cool and more than a little meta.

If that’s a bit too cerebral and odd, they also have a zero gravity first person shooter, similar to the PSVR exclusive RIGS and Shattered Horizon.

Image Credit: Polyphony Digital, Sony

Image Credit: Polyphony Digital, Sony

Sony Again?

Sony’s presentation in general was full of exciting games, and even had a portion dedicated to the PSVR, which we have covered already this week. However, they did add to speculation about another big game getting a VR mode: Gran Turismo Sport. Polyphony’s brilliant driving simulator series is getting a new version with PSVR support. Given how gorgeous GT Sport looks and also the limitations of the PS4 for VR, it’s unclear exactly what form this will take, with demos limiting the experience to selected cars and tracks in a 1 vs 1 offline mode. Impressions have been very positive about how it looks and drives in VR, so perhaps that is the right way to go. Time will tell how much sheer VR power Polyphony can get out of the PS4 before GT Sport’s launch.

Along with this, a release date was unveiled for gloriously quirky Japanese RTS game No Heroes Allowed! VR, which means that what looks to be a game like pretty much no other VR game is going to make it to the west in Autumn.

Image Credit: Bandai Namco, Nintendo

Image Credit: Bandai Namco, Nintendo

Anything Else?

Namco Bandai presented some fairly special VR treats at its booth. As well as the Neon Genesis Evangelion VR Arcade game we have previously covered, Mario Kart Arcade GP VR and a VR remake of their late 90s pedalling flight sim Prop Cycle were also there.

Skydance Interactive have done a deal with Robert Kirkman to bring zombie series The Walking Dead to VR as well, which given the franchise’s dalliances with interactive entertainment before could either be revolutionary or completely dire. Skydance had their own game as well coming out in July by the name of Archangel, in which you pilot a giant robot and blow up things. Skydance have said the strength of the game is in its storytelling.

CCP Games, creators of the incredibly complicated EVE Online as well as its very pretty VR offshoot EVE Valkyrie also showed off their rather odd VR sports game Sparc, which is now a timed exclusive for PSVR. CCP’s “vSport” essentially played like Windjammers or the duels in Tron, where you throw and block and dodge orbs. It’s very active and very visceral, so there is the potential here for a breakthrough game.

4A Games, makers of the phenomenal Metro series have a similarly post-apocolyptic shooter in the form of Arktika.1. The demo shown at E3 looked rather impressive, although by using blink locomotion it felt a bit more linear and arcade-like than is the norm for 4A’s fare. May be one to look out for though.

Finally, Sprint Vector returned to the scene, the unique locomotion and frantic gameplay is just as exciting as ever, although their method for getting characters moving is increasingly looking like a technological dead end. At any rate it’s a game that right now is tackling a problem every other developer is waiting on a solution for.

No Nintendo VR?

While a surprisingly large number of the presentations at E3 involved VR in some way. It wasn’t universal. Microsoft notably didn’t (although they mentioned the Xbox One X’s support for VR after the fact), and neither did Nintendo, although given that they are still in two minds about whether to even attempt a VR project, that may be understandable. The PC Gaming Show also did not include any VR games that were not revealed elsewhere.

Devolver Digital’s “press conference” also didn’t throw up any new VR games, though given that this “presentation” also included a device to literally throw money into a computer to pay for microtransactions and an exploding head, that may not be the biggest surprise.

That said though, given that even in recent years virtual reality was relatively unrepresented at the biggest gaming show on the planet, the fact that not having anything to say or show about VR is now the exception rather than the rule is incredibly encouraging. The imagination is there, as is the technology, it just needs to get into the hands of gamers and everything will fall into place.

 

 

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