By Christopher “Scyle” Hesson
TL;DR (Too Long, Didn’t Read):
- An amazing and incredibly immersive experience
- The ability to live out experiences impossible otherwise
- A unique and versatile platform to experience otherwise mundane activies
- Disorienting depending on the game/video
- Horrifyingly real (Debatable con ;P)
- Not a perfected technology
Virtual reality has came a long way since its days of the Virtua Boy, a headset that displayed a very meager 3D experience in conjunction with a simple gamepad. Now we have multiple platforms to experience virtual reality with such as the Playstation VR and the Oculus Rift. Here at Pixel Playground, we’ve found a major interest in virtual reality. Due to it being a rather costly set up that requires some intuition, we’ve offered the ability to come in and play VR without all the hassle by means of the Oculus Rift. We do have a PSVR, but we’ll touch on that more later. So why should you try VR? What should you avoid?
The easiest argument to try VR is that it’s honestly a very surreal experience. You, the player, are put into these worlds otherwise accessed with great difficulty or otherwise impossible. National Geographic and Discovery provide plenty of travel and explorative environments and videos for users to indulge in while History provides 3D lessons. Personally I have been into haunted houses, I’ve been an action hero, I’ve caught bullets and used them against my enemies, and threw magical spells. I’m not the only one that can do this. You can too. Even if you aren’t so much a gaming type, the Oculus Rift has plenty for you to indulge in. Along with gaming, you can watch things like Hulu and Netflix (imagine a movie like The Poltergeist or Star Wars in VR!) Even if you don’t want to actively watch or play anything, there are 3D environments you can simply immerse yourself in such as space and deep sea.
Another reason to try VR is how incredible it makes games previous. Minecraft, Mojang’s smash indie game hit, is a sandbox world creating game. You run around and build, destroy, hunt, battle. The game’s experience is truly only limited by your creativity. In VR, it becomes a completely new experience. This is also where we get to talk about why it’s also bad. Minecraft is a game that places the player character, Steve, into a completely remoldable world. This means you will stand on top of monstrous mountains, battle hordes of skeletons and zombies, experience dank caves, and swim through oceans. All of this becomes a completely new experience in VR. Those monstrous mountains now loom over you. The ocean becomes a vast, dark place that could potentially hold hidden treasures and threats. The hordes of nightly enemies now charge at YOU. It’s all a very exciting experience, and a very disorienting one.
If you’re at all like me, you get motion sick very easily. VR in of itself doesn’t turn my stomach. So long as I’m the one doing the moving, I’m alright, but games like Minecraft are extremely hard on a person’s equilibrium. It’s the sense of vertigo, the moving without moving. In a car you’re sat down but still very much moving. It’s the same in VR, but it can be worse. You don’t have the help (or hindrance) of gravity and inertia so your body may not know how to react. Most games use a teleporting mechanic for movement, but other games like Minecraft you use the controller or joy sticks on the touch controllers. So whether you’re standing or sitting down, you begin moving without moving. I’ve not gotten used to it yet and many other customers have noted its disorienting experience. If you get motion sick easy, avoid these games. Otherwise, the experience is pretty casual. (It’ll even tell you in the information of the game how intensive the motions are!)
That’s not VR’s only downside. The technology is flawed. In a game like Surgeon Simulator, an indie title that puts you in a pseudo-puzzle where you have to perform the surgery you’ve selected, turning around and grabbing a tool behind you can be a hassle if you’re playing on the Oculus. Depending on the set up, the hands start losing the camera sensors as you spin about and interrupt the connection with your own body. Naturally, like most platforms, VR also just has general kinks and bugs. Games crashing, the hands becoming laggy needing a reset, updates (ugh), and other fun snags that you’ll naturally encounter on any system. Most games seem to provide work arounds for this. Arizona Sunshine is a survival game that puts you in the bright and vibrant state of Arizona in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. The game features a teleporting mechanic that relieves users like myself of the inevitable sickness, but also all turning is done through the flicks of the analog sticks. When teleporting or turning, the screen will fade out and in really fast, even further assisting to prevent a turned stomach. So long as you don’t spin too fast the experience is quite pleasant (if a bit intense because zombies!)
Not only is the general technology naturally flawed, but our experience with PSVR wasn’t great. No matter what we’ve done, we can’t get the Playstation Move controllers, two wands with glowing bulbs, to track. The headset works perfectly, but the wands don’t and controller inputs are laggy despite being hooked directly to the console. If we ever get it up and running at an optimal performance, I’ll update!
So if you’re on the fence about trying VR, whether it’s with us, at Best Buy, Scene75, or other similar outlets, don’t be. The control is at your finger tips so if there’s something you don’t want to experience, you don’t have to. Keep in mind it’s all not real, but it’s still a brutally immersive experience. Heights will be a thing, the horror games are extremely intense, and much everything else is going to make sure the experience is as real as can be. Still, don’t let that stop you from experience you’re bound to have. I’ve personally never heard a negative review when we’ve put customers through even the tech-demo that comes with the system. My first experience came when I was first setting up here and the more games I get to experience the better it becomes. So the next time you get the opportunity, say yes. You never know what you’re missing out on and you won’t want to miss out on this!
Thanks for reading! Have a good day and stay GODLIKE!
Christopher “Scyle” is an avid gamer. His passion for gaming is what lead him to actually talk to his previous manager and Pixel Playground owner Brian. He’s also a fan of good food and writing. He’s also a competitive gamer! If he’s not dunking Ryu’s on Street Fighter, you can find him on his Youtube @ScyleOrnitier, his Twitter @iScyle, or his Twitch channel @Scyle_