Even though the first commercial technology of Virtual Reality has been around since the 80’s, the idea of VR seems like a fantasy far away from our reach until the recent years.
Even long before the technology even existed, people have been dreaming about entering a fictional world where they can interact with digital beings and environments. The last 10 years have shown us an incredibly fast development of this technology. It was only in 2010 when a teenager called Palmer Luckey created the first prototype of Oculus Rift, the now world famous and pretty much leader of the VR developing movement.
The virtual reality world never received as much commercial attention as it currently has, with a lot of competitors that now develop different kind of VR headsets and pretty much every big technology company having at least one version of VR.
But even though we’re living in the most accessible time to get into the VR universe, there are still many who still have not had the chance to get to try it. And they are still wondering just how does it feel to use them, and we’re here to help you get a grasp of it. Keep in mind however, that we are mainly going to be talking about the most interactive use for Virtual Reality we have right now, that is, of course, video games.
Travel to a new world from the comfort of your living room
No matter how big your television is, or how many monitors you may have, the truth is that at the end of the day you’re still sitting in front of a screen (or screens). If you look at your sides you still can see your room around you. No matter how immersive the game may be, you’ll still find yourself in front of a screen.
Now, once you put on a VR headset, things change drastically. Putting up a VR headset opens up a world of new possibilities.
What does VR feel like? You’re no longer just sitting in front of a screen, you’re IN the game world. Everywhere you look you only get to see a new, different and amazing world. The experience becomes so much more immersive and even personal.
Depending on the game, there are different control implementations, some games will still have you use your regular controller or keyboard, even with the VR headset on. But there are other games -mostly games that were directly made for VR games- that allow you to use special controllers specifically made for VR headsets like the HTC Vive (See on Amazon) and Oculus Rift (See on Amazon) that allow you to use the specialized controllers for those headsets.
The games that allow you to use special controllers are the one that get to be way more immersive, since you really have to move your own arms to control your character or even to manipulate the game world.
The feeling of using a VR headset is indeed incredibly realistic. The fact that it doesn’t matter where you look, any direction will still be inside the game world, makes it more immersive than any other game experience.
There are some developers that have started working on stands that allow you to even walk on one spot in order to register your steps and use them to move your character. Now, take a little time to imagine the possibilities of that. Imagine opening your eyes and be in the fantasy world of Skyrim, walking around and killing dragons and monsters with your own movements, to swing the sword or to explore the world with your own movement, now that is immersion.
If your question is “does it feel realistic?” then in long story short, it very much does. The real question would be “Are you ready for the feeling?”
Getting into Virtual Reality is getting a lot more accessible, you don’t even need an expensive computer to do it. Now there are VR headsets for just about everything. You can turn your smartphone into a VR device with a headset.
The smartphone VR uses are excellent too, from immersive interactive experiences, to just watching a movie on a huge screen. A headset allows for great integration of not only virtual reality, but also augmented reality, a technology that’s evolving more and more everyday.
But when it comes to gaming, some of the best experiences you can get in VR come from horror games, and that makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t matter how scary a video game is, you can always look away from the screen at some point, and you can even play it with the light on. But you just picture yourself being INSIDE the game world. Now you become the character, you’re not only playing the situation from outside, you are pretty much living it. Even if you close your eyes, you’re using surround-sound headphones, and every time you open your eyes, even if it’s just a little bit, you’re still inside that scary situation.
This is why many indie developers center around making horror VR games. But there are excellent games that allow you con manipulate the game world too. And remember that this technology is far from just being a gaming experience.
Who is VR for?
The most direct answer would be: for anybody looking for a more immersive gaming experience. It’s not something necessary for gaming, and it won’t make you better at games, but it is still an amazing experience that everyone should try. Is it the next step in gaming? Probably, but it’s still too early to answer this, so only time will tell.
VR is not just for gamers. Thanks to its immersive nature it is incredible for education. It allows the person to get inside different three dimensional world, excellent for history lessons and more. There are many virtual tours around museums that you can take without having to travel all the way to the real museums.
It is also a great tool for simulating practical situations for medical training. There are many specialized centres that allow students to participate in simulations of real medical situations with virtual patients. But not only medical students, but also designers and architects. Since you can enter a three dimensional environment, it is now widely used to allow architects to illustrate their ideas in a more realistic and 3D model, so they can even walk around it.
Everything can benefit in one way or another from going VR, it is now a matter of improvement. The bases of the technology are there, it will only be successful if it keeps on evolving and becoming more accessible to the general public.
HYVG’s VR Game Suggestions
Our friend owns a HTC Vive, and so we’ve only played games that are compatible with that VR system. Some of our favorites include…
Hover Junkers – Fend off waves of drones with your arsenal of guns. It’s insane playing a first person shooter in VR. You’ll be ducking, dodging, and doing everything that you can to survive. The feeling of playing this game is insane the first time you play. Very fun game!
Accounting – If you’re not a fan of Rick & Morty than don’t touch this one. It’s a dark, yet hilarious story game. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it is free on Steam. You’ll laugh and marvel at how interactive the world is. I’m hoping to see more story based games in VR.
No Man’s Sky – If you’re a regular at Hey You Video Game! than you know Gimmick and I enjoy our NMS. We haven’t played the VR version of the game, but we would LOVE to give it a shot. Exploring space, fighting space pirates, and building mega bases in virtual reality! yes please!
The Next Big MMORPG – We’ve big talking for years about how the MMORPG genre is dead. Everyone tried to kill World of Warcraft, but no one could get their hooks in the king. Even with the release of WoW classic you can see that the genre isn’t officially dead, but people are hungry for something fresh. A VR MMORPG is the answer! Can you imagine playing a full fledged MMORPG in virtual reality? It would be amazing. Running a raid with 20 guild mates trying to kill a dragon? There’s huge potential here, but no one has done it yet. We’re hoping some company catches the vision, and brings a MMORPG to VR. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting patiently.