Modern gaming offers ever more expansive, beautifully constructed worlds that you can spend hundreds of hours in. But with so many titles arriving, jostling for players’ valuable time, sticking to popular mechanics rather than coming up with something new is more common than not. That’s especially so when considering the raft of sequels and year releases some franchises suffer from. Which is why I consider VR to have such an important role within the gaming sphere. Because VR is the only one truly leading gaming innovation.
In the traditional flatscreen videogame space, recent games like Starfield and Payday 3 have hardly set the gaming world ablaze. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has tanked. Then you have successes like Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom which are still regurgitating the same stuff. It’s so stagnant that remasters such as Dead Space and Resident Evil IV are highly revered.
Gaming innovation in the hands of VR
Which is where VR can step in and take the mantle. It’s a technology just getting into its stride having only entered the consumer realm in 2016. That timeline is exceedingly short in comparison to the normal gaming industry which has been around for decades.
Immersive gaming offers exciting possibilities when it comes to how we interact with virtual worlds. Whether that’s solving a puzzle, combat scenarios, or simply communicating with one another in a multiplayer environment. VR has the ability to make a fantasy game feel more real, where you can embody your character and become part of the story in ways flatscreen gaming isn’t able to.
What VR creates is a sense of ‘presence’. Now, this word is quite often thrown around the industry when it’s not always applicable. However, when it is, that feeling of presence in a VR game is something else. You become so entwined in the virtual world that you forget these digital objects aren’t real. You might go to lean on a pool table then remember it’s not there. Or far more common, placing your controllers on a table only to hear them hit the floor. There are plenty of videos online that prove how engrossed some players can get.
There is some friction to all of this, of course. VR is still niche because you have to put on a headset, which not everyone wants or likes to do. Most modern VR titles feature accessibility options so you can play seated or standing. But it can’t compete against those times when you want to lounge on the sofa, hacking and slashing hordes of enemies. I get it, sometimes putting in that physical effort in a game like Blade & Sorcery can be a bit exhausting.
Then there are times when you jump into a game of Population: One and it’s exhilarating! And in many ways better than Fortnite – yes I said it.
Developers have had to think of new ideas simply because they’re creating the template of VR gaming from the ground up. How you move within a virtual space, how picking up an item one way feels weird but another doesn’t. Hands and arms are a good example. Grab a virtual mug and if your hand disappears it feels unnatural. Yet many games don’t feature arms, only your floating hands, which oddly doesn’t feel strange.
The technology’s rapid evolution has forced creators to think outside of the box, and the games we get are all the better for it.