This time next week, the world’s first low-cost, accessible to the masses VR headset will be unleashed upon our longing, weary eyes. When I say low-cost and accessible, I mean when compared to the competition, being the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, both created for the much larger, often more power-hungry, Premium PC marketplace. At £349.99 for the headset alone, forgetting the additional price of the required PlayStation Camera and the optional, but recommended, purchase of PlayStation Move controllers, it’s definitely not going to be considered easily affordable. When it’s half the cost of alternatives, however, it’s better value for money if you just want to jump in and play with minimal effort; No checking specifications to make sure you have enough USB 3.0 ports, no purchasing a slightly better graphics card. Plug in, calibrate, and before you know it you’ll be swimming with sharks, floating through space, or laying havoc to a virtual office space.
I’ve only experienced, what I perceive to be at least, the wonder of VR once, and that was with the PlayStation VR back in March at EGX Rezzed. I was an instant believer. What I saw was a new way to play, something that the industry had not had in quite some time, and dozens upon dozens of instantly gratified individuals who, on donning the sleek unit, instantly smiled, some laughing maniacally with glee. That instant gratification will soon start to pass when VR becomes the norm, which I wholeheartedly believe it will do, and as our brains start to, albeit slowly, not get tricked quite so easily. As I mentioned in my write up of EGX Rezzed 2016, as you can find here, I completely forgot I was sitting in front of eager onlookers when I sat down to play Rigs, and better yet, I truly felt as if I was piloting a gun-toting mech playing what is essentially a game of Gundam Basketball on steroids.
What I didn’t see, however, excited me more. Experiences that aren’t constrained by gaming conventions, or indeed even related to games, are what will push this past the moniker of being a gamer’s gimmick and truly into the mainstream. Being able to attend conferences in virtual reality whilst, back in the real world, you’re in your Sonic underwear picking out the crumbs caught in your laughable excuse that you call chest hair. After all, virtual IKEA showrooms are a thing, so why not?
My greatest joy, however, is when I can sit down with my parents, of grandparents, and assure them that putting them into a virtual shark cage and dunking them into the ocean will, hopefully, not induce a heart attack. Gaming has often been marked as an immersive experience as a whole and, for the most part, this has been snubbed by the older generations when we try and explain one of our favourite past times. Now, with the help of hundreds of pounds worth of equipment, they may be able to believe, or at least understand. That possibility is an exciting one, for me at least. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll have a great YouTube video of someone being scared half to death by a trigger happy clown on a Roller Coaster thanks to Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. That’s worth the price of admission alone.
Do you think VR is here to stay, it will it prove as ineffective as the Wii’s motion controls? Let us know!