Tag Archives: psvr

Okay, Seriously, Maybe VR Gaming Is About To Have Its Big Moment

I keep thinking about a video game I played in Los Angeles a month ago that’s what you’d get if the renowned covert ops Splinter Cell series required your character to always be in a kayak.

The game is called Phantom: Covert Ops, and it’s pretty cool. The catch is that it’s all in VR.

Please, don’t go away. Keep reading! I’ve even got an interview to share with you involving the guy overseeing games at Oculus.

Talking about VR gaming piques some people’s curiosity. Unfortunately, many others tend to tune out. VR gaming is conceptually cool, but it’s expensive, inconvenient and, to some, nauseating. It’s also something that’s hard to appreciate in trailers, and harder still in the written word. I’ve been writing about understandable gamer disinterest in VR since 2016, when I first heard the snores while covering pretty cool VR games.

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Here I go again, because some of the coolest games I saw at the E3 gaming show in L.A. were in fact in VR. Yes, it’s taken me a month to tell our readers about these games, but such is the backhanded praise I’m afraid I always deliver to this scene within a scene.

First, there’s this Phantom game. You sit down, put on an Oculus headset and hold two Oculus touch controllers in your hand. You’re on a river. It’s dark. You paddle toward some bad guy lair that can’t be accessed by air or land, hence the kayak.

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A boat is coming. Quick! Paddle over to the reads and wait for it and its bright lights to pass you by.

Paddle some more. There’s a bad guy guard over yonder. Reach down to your side and pick up your virtual sniper rifle. Move it toward your eye. There he is in your crosshairs. Take the shot.

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Reach a blockade. Paddle up and toss some C4 on it. Paddle back and blow it up.

Totally wacky premise. Totally fun game. Feels great in VR and is extremely comfortable to play, since you’re sitting down in real life and in the game and you’re moving at the speed of a paddled boat.

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Then there’s Stormland, an open-world first-person action-adventure from the great Insomniac Games. That’s the mostly PlayStation-centric studio behind Ratchet & Clank and Spider-Man that has made a bunch of VR games not for PlayStation VR but for the Facebook-owned Oculus. In Stormland, you’re a robot. Shortly after I started playing, the game encouraged me to rip off one of my arms, which felt very weird to do in VR. Then I plugged in a new robot arm and started exploring an archipelago of islands. As I played, I upgraded my arm so I could shoot lasers, climb walls and even skate across the clouds. It all felt great.

I capped some footage of Stormland, but you know how it is with VR, right? You’re going to see some graphics that look way less impressive on your flat monitor or phone than they did in an Oculus headset, where they felt as if they wrapped all around my head.

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There’s Lone Echo II, a game in which you’re a robot floating around in an abandoned space station while communicating with a captain named Olivia who is also floating around in there with you. This one didn’t grab me as much as the other two, but it still was neat to be floating around with another character, while also trying to figure out how to move through zero gravity.

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Some VR games are gimmicky. Some are fun. There’s a wide range in a young field. I’m partial to PSVR’s Astrobot Rescue Mission on PS4 and the multiplatform Cosmic Trip. People love Beat Saber, others go on about the VR version of Resident Evil 7. I recently had a very good time playing a pre-release Iron Man VR game and a VR mode in No Man’s Sky. There’s good stuff out there, but it’s been relatively hard to access due to the expense of VR headsets. Plus, a good amount of it is still spread across various platforms.

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At E3, after seeing these games, I chatted with Jason Rubin, who runs first-party gaming at Oculus. He co-founded Naughty Dog and famously looks the part of Uncharted’s Nathan Drake. We talked frankly about Oculus, or at least as frank as a person charged with selling Oculus is going to get. “We feel great,” he told me when I asked him how things were going. Then he declined to tell me if Oculus has sold a million of their main Oculus Rift headsets yet.

“You know there are people that are interested in purchasing [VR], but these things always move slowly,” he said.

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Naughty Dog co-founder Jason Rubin now runs gaming at Oculus.

The issue for Oculus and for other companies pushing VR is that VR gaming just hasn’t been broadly appealing, though Rubin made a strong case in L.A. that Oculus may have finally figured it all out. The solution and the push is for a device called the Oculus Quest, which launched in the spring to rave reviews, including from us: “The Oculus Quest Is How Virtual Reality Should Work.” It’s a VR headset without wires, without sensors, without the need to be plugged into a PC or console, yet it can still run some impressive games. “Quest is mass market,” Rubin said, telling me it radically changes the VR landscape and has the potential to make VR gaming hot this holiday.

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The catch? Well, for one, Quest costs at least $400, so VR gaming still isn’t cheap even if it no longer requires sensors or wires. The other? Two of the three games that wowed me at E3 don’t run on it. The kayak game does run on the Quest, but Stormland and Lone Echo II require the higher-end Oculus Rift. Rubin said that’s because those games were planned before the Quest was a thing. The newest Rift, which also costs $400 and doesn’t require sensors, needs to be plugged into a pretty good PC.

As I chatted with Rubin, he portrayed VR gaming as an inevitability, as well as a tech that wasn’t going away, and one that would work better and reach more people bit by bit. One reason why it’s not going away soon is that it’s backed by big money. Oculus is owned by Facebook, and, as Rubin told me, “Mark is a patient individual.”

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The continued frenzy of indie developers to make VR games is another argument for the scene’s longevity. While Facebook funds a lot of VR game development, like Sony does for the PlayStation VR platform, indie developers also just seem genuinely interested in making this stuff. They’re more into it than corporate publishers, in fact, as we’ve seen EA, Activision and others make just token attempts. Even the more experimental Ubisoft, which has produced a slew of VR games in recent years, has shown signs of backing off, including by adding a non-VR mode to their ambitious Star Trek VR game.

Around VR, there are signs of stress. During that E3 week, some indie developers complained about being blocked from selling their games on the Quest’s curated store, something Rubin tried to address and clean up during an end-of-week twitter thread.

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While talking to me, Rubin entertained a surprising crossover: the idea of Oculus games on Sony’s PlayStation 4-based PSVR platform, which has its own roster of exclusive games. “We’ve thought about it,” he said. “I would love to make a trade with Sony. You know they have great stuff that they funded, and we have great stuff we’ve funded.” Nothing’s confirmed yet, but it’s still a sign of where things are at that Oculus would even consider putting their games on another VR platform.

It struck me as I talked to Rubin that he’s got a checklist of formidable problems. Better headsets and better games will help, and he’s got to figure out how to get more people playing VR games. Oculus and VR developers overall also could use a breakthrough in how to show VR games off, which Rubin says Oculus is working on. VR games have looked best to spectators when they are shown in a so-called mixed reality format, which integrates a video feed of the person playing the game into the VR game they’re playing. It caught my eye when it was used three years ago to show off the VR construction game Fantastic Contraption.

“We’re pushing to try as best we can to enable mixed reality so that streamers and developers can share that video with people online,” Rubin told me, saying some upcoming changes that he didn’t want to detail yet would make it easier. An external camera will be required, but a green screen would not.

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Then there’s sickness, which is still a thing. Numerous staffers at Kotaku can’t even play a VR game when I want to show it to them, because they quickly feel ill. They’re not alone. Rubin says that better lenses in VR headsets, the addition of wider fields of view and drops in latency thanks to more powerful gear will help ameliorate the problem, but he still likened VR gaming to riding a rollercoaster or setting sail. “Ultimately it’s still going to be a boat and there will be some people in some situations that are a little uncomfortable,” he said. (Ah, but what if the game was all about you being in a boat? And sniping bad guys. Right?)

VR gaming will crawl forward. The games I saw are still in development and will hopefully still dazzle in longer play sessions. Oculus is gearing up for a September showcase that will include the debut of a VR game from red-hot Respawn Entertainment (Apex Legends, Titanfall). Rubin thinks the Quest will have a big Christmas, too. It might. It could. VR gaming’s got a lot going for it, but I also won’t be surprised if, a few years from now, it’s still a struggle for gaming’s most awkward platform to catch on.

Source: Kotaku.com

Playing VR Alone Is Terrifying

I recently bought Beat Saber for PSVR and have been playing it with my girlfriend. It’s fun and is a great way to get up and move around more. But when she is out of the house, I still sometimes want to play VR. But I’ve tried playing Beat Saber and other VR games alone and I always end up nervous, paranoid and scared.

I’m already not the perfect person for VR. I don’t have motion sickness or get headaches from 3D or anything, but I do have claustrophobia. So the idea of slipping on a big headset, wrapping cords around my head to use headphones and locking myself away from the real world makes me feel uneasy. But Beat Saber and Job Simulator are too much fun to ignore, so I push past my fears and put that headset on and play. It’s been fine and over time I’ve gotten more comfortable with VR headsets.

That all goes out the window when I decide to play VR alone.

For anyone who hasn’t played VR, it is like shutting yourself off from the world. Especially if you use headphones. Suddenly you aren’t in your living room, but instead, depending on the game, you are standing in the middle of a digital void or convenience store or wintery forest. It’s incredible. And it is very easy to get lost in these new worlds.

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I can easily get lost in these worlds when playing with people around me. But when I play alone there is always this part of my brain that won’t fully let me relax or enjoy myself. A part of my brain that keeps repeating the same thing, over and over.

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“You have no idea what’s going on around you or if you are alone right now.”

It is completely silly. Of course, I’m alone. I live in a relatively safe and quiet area, I’ve never experienced any crime or incidents here and the apartment is locked up. But the longer I spend in my VR headset, the louder the voice in my head grows.

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“You can’t even hear what’s going on near you. Are you really safe?”

This leads to me pulling out my earbuds constantly, listening for any weird noises in my home. I freeze, like a cat who is spooked, and spend a moment listening for anything out of place around me. Whenever I do this my brain momentarily breaks a bit due to the disconnect that happens. I’ll be standing on top of a mountain in Skyrim VR, but I can hear my fan and dishwasher.

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Eventually, after a few sound checks, my fear and paranoia will grow too large and I’ll pull the headset off and investigate my surroundings. The moment I stop playing VR and walk around my apartment, I feel like an idiot. Almost immediately my brain flips on me.

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“Wow, you really are paranoid. Calm down, dude. It’s 3 pm on a Tuesday in Kansas. You honestly think you are in danger?”

But once I put the headset back on and start playing again, that voice returns and begins making me feel paranoid all over. This all adds up to mean I can only play VR alone for about 20-40 minutes at a time before having to take a break to search my home for a deadly assassin or thief.

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The scariest moment of wearing a VR headset alone, for me at least, is in the moments when the real world is shown to me while in VR.

This happens when first booting up a PSVR game or recalibrating the headset, which I have to do often. In these moments, the PS4 shows me a live feed from my PlayStation camera. Every time this happens while I’m playing alone, I tense up. Because what if someone was standing next to me or behind me? What would I do? And do I even want to know if someone is quietly walking around me? (No. The answer is no. Just take what you want and leave.)

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Some VR headsets include small cameras on them to help give players a better sense of what is happening outside their VR world. This seems like a great feature to include! Beyond just my own random fears and paranoid thoughts, being able to see your actual world while in VR, without taking off the headset, sounds like a great safety feature.

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And it would probably let me hang out, alone, in VR for longer than 15 minutes before freaking out and ripping my headset off because my cat decided to knock over a cup.

Source: Kotaku.com

Virtual reality seems like a great place for sniping, doesn’t it?

Virtual reality seems like a great place for sniping, doesn’t it? Rebellion and Just Add Water team up for Sniper Elite VR for PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, SteamVR and Viveport. Set just before the events of Sniper Elite 4, it’s got a brand new story by Tony Schumacher  and all the x-ray kills you can stomach. 

Source: Kotaku.com

New Game From Rick & Morty’s Co-Creator Isn’t As Funny As I Hoped

Trover Saves the Universe is my favorite sort of virtual reality game. It’s bright, colorful and weird. It stars me, as a silent seated presence, guiding titular hero Trover in third-person. It can even be played without a virtual reality headset. These are features I like. I also like the crass, stammering humor of Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland. Just not so much of it at once.

The twisted tale of Trover Saves the Universe, out now for PC and PlayStation 4 from Squanch Games, begins with a monumental creature named Glorkon stealing the player’s beloved dogs, jamming them into its empty eye sockets to harness their power, and launching into a rampage that threatens to destroy the universe. Soon after, the player, a member of an alien race who live their entire lives seated in chairs, is visited by a purple eye-hole monster named Trover. Forced together by fate (a.k.a. Trover’s boss), the pair embark on a quest to kick ass, find collectibles, and save the universe.

It sounds a little weird and kind of wholesome. It is totally weird, but not at all wholesome. The game opens with Glorkon calling the player a “stupid piece of shit” multiple times. From there it’s an ongoing stream of Roiland’s signature babbling profanity.

Fans of Rick and Morty are sure to be pleased, if they can stand the constant rambling dialogue. Though the stars of the hit animated series aren’t in the game, their presence is always felt. Trover’s voice is a less whiny version of young, put-upon Morty. Glorkon’s minions, one of the game’s most prevalent enemy types, all sound like bedraggled scientist Rick. They get some cute lines, like calling out Trover for murdering their friends when taken out with a swing of the hero’s glowing sword. They also have a lot of random fuck-yous.

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Trover Saves the Universe is a very clever game that does many interesting things. In the opening sequence, when two soap opera actors on the player’s in-game television get into an argument that’s actually a disguised tutorial? Hilarious. The game regularly gives the player choices on how to proceed with the story. Early on, an old man blocks the player and Trover’s progress. Trover can hit him with a sword a couple of times to get the old man to unblock the path, while shouting about elder abuse. Once the path is open, Trover can keep hitting the old man, eventually murdering him. That decision pops up in the dialogue much later in the game.

I really like the player interface as well. It’s a game controller, just like the one I hold while playing. When buttons are pressed on the controller in real life, buttons are pressed in the game. The player eventually gains the ability to pop their chair into the air, giving them an overhead perspective. They learn how to grab objects and manipulate them to solve puzzles.

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If they are really lucky, they learn how to put up with Justin Roiland going on and on about goofy nonsense. He just never stops talking. There’s a planet in the game that contains an interplanetary zoo that turns out to be owned by Trover’s ex-roommate. Roiland, as Trover, launches into an endless series of stories about how horrible his roommate was. I was trying to figure out how to navigate this new area and he just wouldn’t stop. I started getting a headache, and I wasn’t even playing in VR.

One of the public relations folks for the game told me that Trover Saves the Universe is a seven- or eight-hour game with over 20 hours of spoken dialogue. That’s way too much. Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy the game without overdosing on Roiland.

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Mmmm, so much better.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Cool Moments In PlayStation VR’s Blood & Truth Are Far Too Rare

For a few seconds, Blood & Truth, the most-hyped game to hit the PlayStation 4’s virtual reality headset since its October 2016 launch, is as thrilling a VR experience as one could hope for.

You’re in the headset holding PlayStation Move controllers as the game’s graphics wrap around you. You’re a soldier back in his hometown of London, automatically propelled through a casino’s upper floor as you fire a gun at a clown car’s worth of dim-witted suit-wearing tough guys. After all this forgettable shooting-gallery gameplay, your character stands still as you confront a gangster. Then, a door nearby bursts open and some guy in a helmet walks through and machine-guns the gangster to death.

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Then, this cool thing happens.

Blood & Truth pushes you forward down a hallway, making it feel as if you’re fleeing from the person with the machine gun. The hallway ends at a window, but it’s no dead end. The game launches you through it. The glass shatters as the action slows down. Suddenly, in slow-motion VR, you’re leaping through the London air toward a neon sign an alley’s width away. Look down and you’ll sense that you’re several stories up. Look behind and you can see the building from which you just leapt. Soon, you’re clinging to the exterior of the building toward which you jumped. With those Move controllers in hand, you can make your character grab a girder and then reach for a handhold. Then another, slowly scaling the wall. Then you can make him reach into an airshaft and crawl through the chute to relative safety.

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This brief, thrilling moment is the highlight of the first couple of hours I’ve played of Blood & Truth, a game that mostly demonstrates how little virtual reality can make up for generic action gameplay and unlikable characters. Blood & Truth is mostly off-putting, mostly just a mindless shootout against uninteresting enemies who evade gunfire about as well as a houseplant, mixed with shouty b-grade dialogue. These are shortcomings that may have been acceptable in the first year or two of this current era of mainstream PC and console VR, when the novelty of wraparound graphics and the comfort of a game running well enough to not induce nausea could excuse other faults. Now, it feels far less acceptable, even more so in the wake of the truly great, no-asterisks-needed PSVR game Astrobot: Rescue Mission.

Astrobot, like Blood & Truth, is a first-party Sony game, the ostensible height of what well-backed VR video game productions can achieve. With Astrobot we got a cartoonish game that let players control a little robot from overhead, making him hop, run and tightrope-walk through colorful, secret-filled levels.

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With Blood & Truth, we’re soldier Ryan Marks in a first-person shooter that mixes non-interactive story sequences in which Marks is either being interrogated or chatting with his mother, sister, and brother—complete with a lifetime supply of “fucking hell”s—about how to keep his dead father’s criminal empire from falling into a rival’s hands. The family members are annoying, especially Ryan’s brother. He’s especially irritating in an overly long sequence when the two break into a gangster’s art gallery and start screwing with all of these exhibits that just happen to demonstrate various VR gimmicks. Here’s a room full of objects that can collapse all around you. Here’s a room that lights up differently as you move your hands. Here’s a room that’s mostly dark and primed for jump scares when that annoying brother of yours keeps hopping into the light. Here’s a room where you and your brother suddenly have spraypaint cans and can deface art. Here’s a room with a paintball gun that you can shoot at other art as you and your brother cackle through it and snicker about whether any of this is art. The brother is as insufferable as the action is forced. I’d prefer a game without the shooting, without the brother, and maybe with some of these VR art projects fleshed out into a game.

Blood & Truth is best when it’s simply giving you a moment to feel that you are somewhere unusual. This is a strength of VR overall, to convey a simulated sense of presence. I got that in 2015 when I first tried a pre-launch PSVR demo for a demo called London Heist that would eventually ship on the PlayStation VR Worlds compilation and seemed to inspire Blood & Truth. In that one, I saw through the eyes of a character sitting in a chair being berated by an interrogator who loomed over me and puffed smoke in my face. Strangely, the interrogation scenes I’ve experienced in Blood & Truth are not as in-your-face and are, perhaps as a result, not as impressive.

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I got that impressive VR-enabled sense of presence in Blood & Truth when I was jumping out of the window in the game’s second major level and felt, for a moment, that I was somewhere I’d never been—dangling mid-leap between two buildings. I got it, too, in part of the casino level, when my character suddenly found himself at the controls of a DJ booth, where I could trigger different lights and sounds while scratching a record on a turntable. I even got that when sitting shotgun in the car as my annoying brother drove us through London and reached out to hand me a vape. Would that the developers could make a game about this kind of presence, rather than offer drops of it between shootouts that feel so unexceptional.

Fair or not, Sony’s VR games carry the weight of justifying the platform and this entire endeavor of virtual reality gaming about which so many people who play games remain skeptical. Some holdouts simply need to get inside some VR graphics and see the generally wonderful experience of video game visuals that surround you. Others should play the kinds of focused indie games that take a concept like swinging lightsabers to a beat and make a great experience out of them. It’s reasonable, though, to think that some might be on the fence until they hear there’s a whole London action movie of a VR game out there to play. When such a game simply oscillates between basic gunplay and shoehorned gimmickry, it winds up being a poor showcase.

I might play more Blood & Truth, just to look for more of its silly or potentially thrilling gimmick moments. I sense, though, that I have sized up Blood & Truth well enough to know what it is. I also know what I wish it was: a game about leaping through windows and crawling through air ducts. I’d happily spend more time in VR doing that. And less time trying to deal with an annoying brother.

Source: Kotaku.com

Falcon Age Is All About That Bird

The amount of enjoyment to be found in Falcon Age, a falcon-hunting adventure game for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR, depends on how much one falls in love with its feathered co-protagonist. Fortunately, the bird is ridiculously lovable.

Falcon Age is a game about the relationship between human girl Ara and her bird, or at least that’s the part that really matters. The humans of Ara’s world have been subjugated by robotic colonizers from another planet, slowly taking over the beautiful desert world with smoke-spewing industrial plants. Ara aims to shut down the mechanized refineries and reclaim the land. With her best bird by her side, she battles robots and flips switches, shutting down the industrial complex in the name of her people.

There’s not a lot to Falcon Age’s story. There are three refineries to shut down, which doesn’t take long. There’s a dramatic rescue that winds up being unnecessary, and then, after the players perform a final action I will not spoil, the game ends. From start to finish my first playthrough of Falcon Age lasted around three hours. There are a couple of side missions Ara picks up from other characters, and there’s a conflict between Ara’s resistance-minded aunt and her corporation-loving mom that doesn’t end up going anywhere. I would have liked to get to know the world better.

But that’s okay, because I got to know Ara’s bird companion. I chose to name her Damini, and she’s my bird of prey. My alien raptor. No relation to former Kotaku managing editor Tina Amini, but secretly her bird-sister. Damini is the most endearing creature I’ve come across on my PlayStation 4. Developer Outerloop Games, inspired in part by golden eagle hunting videos, created a delightful animal companion both on the television screen and in virtual reality.

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Forget the robots. Forget the resistance. Forget Ara’s mom and her insistence on showing her daughter pictures of dogs, cats and other pets she could own if she just fell in line. Falcon Age is about whistling for your bird and having her light upon your outstretched arm. It’s about ruffling her feathers with your fingers. It’s about collecting toys as rewards from other characters that make the bird sketch pictures or skateboard. It’s about dressing her up in dog hats.

Dying.

Everything Ara, and by extension the player, does with Damini, or whatever she’s named, is joy. Siccing her on colorful alien goat creatures and watching her lift them up and slam them to the ground? Joy. Sending her after wild peppers growing on cliffsides, then having her on your hand with the vegetable in her little paw? Awesome. Arming her with digging claws and using her to clear land mines? That part’s kind of tedious actually, especially since the landmines respawn for some reason, but it’s not completely bereft of joy.

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In a recent post on the PlayStation Blog, creative director Chandana Ekanayake goes into minute detail about how the bird was built, animated and textured to look and feel as real as an alien hawk creature could get. I particularly love the way they used a ball to simulate the player’s hand in determining how Damini would animate while perched on a moving fist. The way her head stays still and focused while her body moves is enthralling.

They’ve built an outstanding bird, and made some excellent choices while doing so. For example, notice how most of my screenshots are of a baby version of Damini? That’s because Outerloop wisely included an in-game hat that keeps the bird in a younger, more manageable form. Adult-sized Damini takes up a lot of screen, especially when playing with a Dual Shock in either virtual reality or TV mode.

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She’s so huge.

Another wise decision on the part of the developers was giving the game two modes: Story mode with combat, and Imprint mode without. As much as I normally enjoy fighting robots, I did not enjoy flailing about with a laser whip in one hand while trying to direct Damini to attack with the other. I’d rather craft some food, harvest some vegetables and hunt animals with my best bird pal.

I’ve played Falcon Age directly off the television using Dual Shock controls, and in virtual reality with a pair of Move controllers. There’s something magical about raising an arm in real life and feeling the subtle haptic feedback as Damini lands on my wrist. Targeting animals to hunt or items to gather is much easier with a Move controller—just point and click. That said, it’s easier to aim the game’s nifty electric whip with the Dual Shock, and in VR mode Ara only has hands and no body. Even her shadow on the ground is just hands. It’s disturbing.

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Either way it’s played, the bird bits of Falcon Age are delightful and charming. Story and combat feel half-baked, and we don’t learn much about the beautiful world the game takes place on. The whole affairs feels more like a showcase for awesome virtual bird technology than a fully-realized game, but it’s a super-endearing showcase. The birb is love.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Played No Man’s Sky VR And Almost Punched Sean Murray In The Face

I did not punch Sean Murray in the face when I played No Man’s Sky in PlayStation 4 virtual reality last week at a demo event in New York. I almost did, as I reached out to open the canopy of the spaceship I was virtually sitting in, but from the sound he made, I think the game’s lead developer scooted away.

“That’s okay, I’ve been punched a few times today,” he said, gathering himself. “The best one today is I asked someone to punch a rock and they punched me square in the jaw. And they didn’t say anything. So I think they just thought: ‘Oh, that’s where that rock was.’”

Murray showed no signs of injury once I took off the PlayStation VR’s headset at the end of the demo and saw him squatting next to me. The whole experience of playing No Man’s Sky in VR was appropriately otherworldly, though slightly more feature-rich than what players will be able to experience when the VR mode comes to PS4 and PC as part of this summer’s free Beyond update.

Players will get a VR mode that Murray said is entirely compatible with existing saves.

Players will get the ability to interact with the world from the first-person perspective of their character in the game.

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Players will be able to do cool things like walk through the bases they’ve made and pilot their spaceship using virtual throttles and joysticks.

They won’t, sadly, be able to do as I did and have Hello Games’ Sean Murray standing next to them offering help. I started playing No Man’s Sky VR all on my own, got a little lost in the world, and then heard the voice of the main visionary behind the game.

“Hi, it’s Sean,” is what I heard after I was playing for a couple of minutes. I suddenly realized Sean Murray had walked over to chat. How convenient! You just play this game in VR and suddenly Sean Murray is next to you.

I kept the VR headset on at first. I had a virtual reality planet to explore and I needed someone to tell me what to do, since the demo had skipped the tutorials for the new mode’s special controls. Murray could explain, but it was weird and also great to have Murray chatting with me as a disembodied voice.

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“It’s the weirdest thing to demo VR to people,” he said as I observed my virtual hands. In reality I was sitting in a chair, wearing the PSVR headset and holding two Move motion controllers in my hands. In the game I was seeing through the eyes of the character you’d normally control from afar. The movement of my in-game hands matched the movement of the controllers I held.

“I’ve skipped the tutorial because we want to show you that anything you can do in No Man’s Sky you can do in No Man’s Sky VR,” Murray said. “You can boot up a 100-hour save and just launch straight into the game.”

At Murray’s direction I extended my left hand to observe the side of my glove. I then pointed at a sphere near my left wrist with my right hand and a menu popped up over it. I was able to tap through some options and get a flashlight to appear in my hand.

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Alternately, I could point my left hand at the in-game gun in my right and switch it to terrain manipulation mode to destroy or add to the scenery. I’d found myself down in a cave and Murray suggested I use the gun’s destruction ability to tunnel my way up and out. Later, he encouraged me to switch functions and build.

“Fire at the world and you can add terrain,” Murray said. “People use this for base-building, sculptures, that kind of thing, drawing phalluses, all of that.”

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You holster your gun by reaching your right hand to your right shoulder as if you were placing it into a backpack.

No Man’s Sky VR is meant to be a magnificent option for the game’s players. It doesn’t technically add anything to what you can do in the game, just changes how you do it and how it appears. From the 20 or so minutes I played of the game in VR, I was struck by the sense of presence I had in the world and my appreciation of its scale. Now you’re deep in a cave looking up as you try to tunnel out. Now you’re standing inside the base someone made. Now you’re talking to an alien who appears to be in front of you.

“Exploration is what the game’s about, and exploration is more interesting in VR,” Murray said. “You can get vertigo. You can stand at the top of a mountain and just feel like you’ve got a real view. You can be in that cave and feel claustrophobic. That lifts the whole game experience.”

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There are some hazards and pitfalls. The game looks more grainy in PSVR than it would in a standard view. Murray said it looks sharper when played in VR on PC, since that hardware is more powerful, but it’s never going to look as sleek as the game looks like on a monitor, a downgrade in visuals that will compete with the grandeur of having No Man’s Sky’s worlds wrap around you.

It also poses some nausea risks. The developers at Hello Games are offering a range of movement options, including a teleport-and-turn system for moving through the world and stuttered rotational turning, which tends to diminish the risk of feeling sick in a VR game’s 3D world. Murray still cautioned that some moments during a spaceship flight might be hard for some players to take in and that the game will offer a range of comfort settings there, too.

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I did not feel queasy when I played, not even during my brief moments flying a spaceship. You can summon your ship from a wrist menu and then climb into a cockpit to see controls that are represented as objects you can interact with. In the ship I entered I could grab a horizontal throttle with my left hand. With my right, I could hold a joystick. Pushing the throttle up and pulling the stick back made me take off. I flew briefly. As I took off, Murray warily suggested I look around out of my cockpit, noting that I should only do that if I felt well enough. I did.

It was wonderful to be able to fly, in first-person VR, in a virtual spaceship up out of the atmosphere into space, to look back on the planet I left behind and then to activate warp speed to go to a space station. I’d play No Man’s Sky this way again.

It’s smart to offer VR as an option for the game and to let players use their existing saves. Long-term players, Murray mused, will see their in-game creations and familiar planets in a whole amazing new way. It seems worth trying if players have a VR headset. Players should just be sure it’s comfortable for them and that, when it’s time to punch a rock or open a cockpit, that no one, not even Sean Murray, is within striking distance.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Week In Games: Who’s Hungry For Some Gods?

This week’s biggest release is God Eater 3, a game which I don’t really know anything about! Looking at screenshots and videos it seems cool. Maybe I’ll give it a try when it comes out February 8th on PS4 and PC.

Before I looked up anything about God Eater I had this idea in my head that the game was about tough anime dudes and chicks running around the world killing and eating gods. Then I looked up the plot and discovered I’m not that far off.

Beyond eating gods, this upcoming week is jam packed with Switch games. If you own a Switch and need some more games, this week has you covered. I also spotted two 3DS releases this week, which is fun. How long will that little machine hold on? If you are wanting to do some back flips on a dirt bike, you should check out Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Game 2, which wins this week’s award for longest title! Congratulations.

Plus other stuff! Check out the list below:

Monday, February 4

  • Battle Motion | PC, Mac
  • Magic Nations | Switch
  • Rage Room | PSVR

Tuesday, February 5

  • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 | Switch
  • The Mage’s Tale | PS4
  • AWAY: Journey To The Unexpected |PS4
  • Access Denied | PS4, PS Vita
  • Evoland Legendary Edition | PS4
  • Melbits World | PS4
  • Spike Volleyball | PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • The Path of Motus | Switch
  • Etrian Odyssey Nexus | 3DS
  • Kadath | PC
  • Euclidean Skies |PC

Wednesday, February 6

  • Riot: Civil Unrest | Xbox One, Switch
  • Access Denied | Xbox One
  • Evoland Legendary Edition | Switch
  • Salt & Sanctuary | Xbox One
  • The Observer | Switch
  • 39 Days To Mars | Xbox One
  • God Monster | PC
  • Elk Simulator | PS4
  • Pipe Push Paradise | PS4

Thursday, February 7

  • AWAY: Journey To The Unexpected | Switch
  • Evoland Legendary Edition | Switch
  • Defense Grid 2 | Switch
  • Magic Scroll Tactics | Switch
  • Reverie | Switch
  • BlazBlue Central Fiction | Switch
  • Plane Mechanic Simulator | PC
  • VICCP | PC
  • Fear of Bugs – The Fear Experience | PSVR

Friday, February 8

  • God Eater 3 | PS4, PC
  • Glass Masquerade | Switch, Xbox One
  • AWAY: Journey To The Unexpected | Xbox One
  • Please, Don’t Touch Anything | Xbox One
  • Odallus: The Dark Call | Switch
  • Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Video Game 2 | Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC
  • Yo-Kai Watch 3 | 3DS
  • Pipe Push Paradise | Xbox One
  • City of Brass | Switch
  • Micro Mayhem | PC

Source: Kotaku.com

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son Is A PSVR Game And A Sequel To The Bill Murray Film

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is a new PSVR game that is a follow up to the 1993 comedy film, Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. The game is being developed by Tequilla Works and published by Sony Pictures Virtual Reality.

Groundhod Day: Like Father Like Son will tell the story of Phil Connors Jr., the son of Bill Murray’s character from the film. Like his father, Phil is trapped in a day inside the town of Punxsutawney and will have to learn the true value of friends and family to escape his repeating nightmare.

The game will contain multiple branching narratives and writers James Siciliano of Rick and Morty and Joshua Rubin of Telltale Games are involved in helping create the story of Like Father Like Son.

Groundhog Day: Like Father Like Son is coming out later this year for PSVR.

Source: Kotaku.com

A Wonderful Look At The Art and Design Of Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Japan Studio posted a short, but fantastic blog post earlier this week showcasing the art and design process behind the PSVR game Astro Bot Rescue Mission.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission was a gorgeous game to play in VR and that art was created with a lot of thought and care. When making props and environments, art director Sebastian Brueckner wanted to make the world feel playful and digital. To achieve this effect, the team added small details like printed circuit boards and LED faceplates to props and items seen in the game.

Similarly, animations for all characters in the game went through a lot iteration to find a style that would work in VR.

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The whole post is a fantastic peek into the development process and includes early looks at levels in Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Astro Bot Rescue Mission: Inside the Art and Animation of Japan Studio’s PS VR Hit (PlayStation Blog)

Source: Kotaku.com