Consumer virtual reality has been available since 2016. While striking up lots of positive coverage upon release, the excitement for VR has died down since. At E3 2018, VR is alive and well, though it’s not the paradigm shift some though it could be.
Two of the three main producers of VR had a presence at E3 this year: Sony with its Playstation VR and Oculus with its Rift, and each had something to show off during their press conferences.
Bethesda made it clear during their conference that VR is one of their priorities they are interested in exploring further. In 2017, Bethesda released Doom VFR, Fallout 4 VR and Skyrim VR. Bethesda, even though they are not a first party studio, have shown the biggest commitment to the medium. They announced a new VR game on stage this year. Pete Hines, the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Bethesda, announced Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot, a new VR title set in the Wolfenstein world.
He also announced that the new downloadable content for 2017’s Prey, Typhon Hunter, would be receiving a port to VR headsets. Later in the conference Todd Howard, Director of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, confirmed that its upcoming Elder Scrolls: Blades would be available for PC VR along with crossplay to mobile.
During its show, Bethesda announced seven brand new titles and three of them were either exclusively VR or included VR support.
Ubisoft, another studio not working on VR hardware, had a little something to show in the VR space on it’s stage. In partnership with Elijah Woods’ SpectreVision studio, Ubisoft showed off a new trailer for Transference, a game originally announced in 2017. Ubisoft has worked on several VR games in the past, including Eagle Flight and Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Ubisoft even has one title that didn’t make an appearance at E3. Space Junkies from Ubisoft Montpellier. The game is still in development with no confirmed release date. The commitment to keep VR a part of the conversation showed Ubisoft is open to working in the VR gamespace.
The conference with the most to say about virtual reality was Playstation, due to it having its own dedicated VR hardware. In the days ahead of E3 Playstation made one new announcement every day. During this run up, VR was very prominently shown off.
June 6th saw the announcement of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s new game Tetris Effect, playable with or without the PSVR. June 9th saw the new game from Zoink! studios Ghost Giant. The next day saw confirmation that Beat Saber from Hyperbolic Magnetism would be coming to the VR platform.
Trover Saves the Universe was revealed during Playstation’s stage show as a VR compatible title. It’s the newest title from Squanch games, developers of Rick and Morty: Virtual Rickality and Accounting+.
Finally during Sony’s post show coverage they had one last surprise for VR owners. From Software is working on a new game entitled Déraciné. Not much is known about Déraciné other than it will be a first person exploration game with elements of time travel.
The only other conference to have any mention of virtual reality was the PC Gaming Show. Oculus came out and showed off Stormland, developed by Insomniac Games. With Oculus being one of the sponsors of the PC Gaming Show it was surprising there was only one VR announcement.
While virtual reality has not set the world on fire, it’s a new technology with potential that developers are only beginning to unlock. Content from dedicated studios has not slowed down and the quality of these titles has only increased. Games like Beat Saber continue to bring new audiences to the medium and as that audience grows, so too does publishers desire to contribute the space.