The Gamescom 2016 VR Roundup: Part 1
So, we went to Gamescom, and by we, I mostly mean I. I went to Gamescom, and I spent a good chunk of my time in virtual reality.
See, no matter what you think about it, virtual reality is going to be all over the place for the next couple of years, and nowhere is that more apparent than here, where we saw a variety of virtual reality projects, from a game billed as VR's answer to Journey, to the VR skydiving simulator that I queued 45 minutes for and still couldn't get near.
Here are some of the best games I played in virtual reality at Gamescom 2016. I didn't play everything in VR, but this is what I did get to grips with and enjoyed. Well, this is part one. You'll get part two on Tuesday; aren't you lucky?
Rebellion's virtual reality tank-'em-up plays like spider-silk. While it's billed as a tank game, in play it feels more like vehicular Doom. You play it the same way, holding down the sprint button and dancing between the cannon fire as a variety of enemies try to take you down.
Battlezone won an award for the best casual game at Gamescom, and it's not hard to imagine strapping the PlayStation VR to your face for 15 minutes of frenetic action, but I played for 30 minutes uninterrupted and didn't get sick at all, even after spending the whole time circle-strafing. Battlezone VR makes me feel like a badass, and I can't wait to play it after its full release.
Star Trek Bridge Simulator
We're aboard the USS not-the-Enterprise-we-promise and me and my team of randomly selected crew-mates are trying to rescue survivors of a stricken ship that has strayed too close to a collapsing star.
Honestly, a collapsing star seems like a silly place to linger, but I'm not in charge here, I'm just the man in control of the weapons. I stretch my hands out in front of me and marvel as my hands, floating in so many other roomscale VR titles, are attached to arms. Arms I can flail, if I want to. I do this a couple of times in the background while we have important conversations. I'm just the guy with the guns, I don't get to get involved with essential huddles like where we fly or what we do. The game feels like the virtual reality version of PC cult hit Artemis Ship Simulator, but being able to see your allies on the bridge of the starship really makes the experience ten times better.
It's in the middle of one of these flails that Klingon ships attack. I'd been dicking around rather than getting to grips with my controls, so when the Captain orders me to return fire, I have to get familiar really quick. We died horribly. It was entirely my fault.
Star Trek Bridge Simulator seems like a game that'll make you bond with your friends like never before, and then in time come to hate them for their stupid human inadequacies.
Multiplayer VR got a lot of love at Gamescom. Project Arena, CCP's multiplayer Tron-'em-up (totally a genre) sees you facing off against an opposing player and trying to pelt them with a projectile while using your shield to ward off their attacks.
At Gamescom, we're facing each other in real life, stood on opposing sides of their large booth in the trade area, but also in the game. It feels a bit like space-tennis (totally a sport) and suddenly, as we knock projectiles back and forth at each other, I realise: I really want to beat this guy.
There's something competitive on a base level about Project Arena. It's the kind of game I want to watch on Twitch, it's the kind of game I want to see in a stadium. It makes perfect sense and it controls like a dream. You have a shield on one of your hands and a projectile in the other, you catch the returning projectile to recharge your shield, and the aim is to beat your opponents shield and catch him with the projectile to score a point. This is going to be big, if room-scale VR gets a big enough install base.