Batman Arkham VR
Warning: Spoilers below
The Batman Arkham VR demo serves a single purpose. Essentially it’s like a game of dress-up. Only here you’re dressing up as Batman. There is definitely more to the game, but that’s what the demo is all about. I began in Wayne Manor with Alfred telling me off for spending too much time not sleeping or something (you know Alfred). He hands you the key to the grand piano, which is also a secret elevator to the Batcave, and you’re on your way down.
The rest of the demo involves suiting up. Grab the gauntlets, grab the grapple gun, forensic scanner and the batarangs and give them a quick test before holstering on the utility belt. There’s also a mirror so you can see yourself as the Batman (or do a Batdance). Essentially, this prologue exists for you to feel like a complete badass and thanks to virtual reality, it’s mission accomplished.
One of the big potential strengths of virtual reality is to take genres that have all but died out and breathe new life into them. That’s what Tethered has done with the God game genre. Tethered puts you in control of an island of Peeps and tasks you with their well-being. You need to organise them to work the resources of the land by day and then defend themselves from monsters by night.
There’s an addictive gameplay loop to Tethered, but what really makes it work is the level of immersion afforded by the virtual reality headset. You’re placed inside the game world, hopping from cloud to cloud as you look down on your island and its inhabitants. Occasionally you’ll catch them looking back up at you and waving. I was so completely sucked into my Tethered demo that I temporarily forgot I was at EGX.
Tethered launches for Playstation VR on October 13, 2016
Windlands is an example of another potential strength of virtual reality – taking a game that would have been “good” on its own and making it an unforgettable experience. That’s not a knock on Windlands at all – it’s a fine environmental puzzle game. You’re thrown into a world of floating platforms and must navigate them using your grappling hook, which can attach to the trees of the world.
It’d be a fun little game in non-VR. But when it’s played with a VR headset on, it transforms into an entirely different experience. Suddenly you feel as though you’re actually swinging between the trees and across the floating islands. It’s an exhilarating experience. And I only got to play the basic tutorial area. The developers were kind enough to let me have a look at the next area, to see how complex it gets. Let me tell you something right now – I’m actively anticipating this game.
Windlands is currently available on PC, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and is coming soon to Playstation VR.
I’ve never had so much information readily available to me while sitting in a cockpit. Thanks to Battlezone’s use of Playstation VR each monitor is merely a quick glance away. As with all of the VR titles I’ve played at EGX this year, the level of immersion in whatever I’ve been playing is off the charts. In Battlezone I was presented with a VR-like environment where I piloted a tank and was thrown into an arena to fight against and survive attacks from various enemies.
There were a good variety of enemies, from other tanks and turrets to flying enemies and swarms. Battlezone’s controls are solidly built – You can use the right analogue stick to aim your weapon up and down but to turn you have to turn the tank itself. Because you’re able to turn your head independantly this control scheme feels incredibly natural and helps ensure that you won’t get disoriented or lose the targeting reticule.
It will be a beefy game when it comes out as well. The game will have a procedurally generated campaign, ensuring that no playthrough will be the same twice. The campaign will offer varying paths – shorter paths will get you to the end quicker, longer paths come with bigger rewards. The campaign will also feature co-op for up to four players.
Battlezone launches exclusively on Playstation VR on October 13, 2016
Shoppe Keep VR
Shoppe Keep VR was a full-room, virtual reality experience. I played it with an HTC Vive in a taped off area. In reality I was standing in the middle of EGX with a headset on and two controllers in my hands. In virtual reality I was standing in the middle of a fantasy shop stall, taking orders from customers while a dragon stared menacingly at me from a distance.
Everything I needed was laid out around me. Customers would come to me with orders that I needed to fulfil by ordering ingredients, brewing potions, smelting ore, hammering metal and more. I walked around my shop, picking things up and putting them down. It was a fun experience, enhanced immesaurably by the fact that my shop was a place I was actually inhabiting. Something I could walk around and interact directly with.
There were bandits too. They kept trying to steal stuff, so I kept shooting them with my crossbow.
Shoppe Keep is currently available on PC, Shoppe Keep VR is coming to HTC Vive sometime in the future.