These are the new worlds you’ll be peering into when Virtual Reality (VR) Gaming Device finally launch – and we’ve tried some of them out already
You can play the demo version of SuperHOT at superhotgame.com now, and we recommend you do. What sets it apart is that time moves only when you move: run towards your enemies and they’ll be able to shoot you, but stand still and bullets travel through the air like coins falling through treacle. Manage the time dilation right and you can weave through a hail of bullets like Neo from The Matrix, doing slo-mo yoga to despatch them. What Oculus brings to this, apart from a far more immersive first-person experience, is a finer level of control. This makes bullet-avoidance more intuitive; enjoy the satisfaction as bullets fly ponderously over your shoulder.
This free-to-play World War II MMO is available on PC, Mac and PS4 but it’s also been shown off with Oculus Rift support, adding to the already claustrophobic experience of being in the cockpit of one of the 186 different planes in the game. Pick from the Spitfire and Hurricane, or go history hipster and pilot a Gloster Gladiator bi-plane.
An unfinished beta version of David Braben’s long-awaited Elite sequel is already available, offering five star systems to explore, plunder and fight your way through as a trader, pirate, bounty hunter or, well, pretty much whatever you want. The final, Oculus-compatible version will have 100 billion systems to traverse, with plans to add planets that can be explored.
We might still be waiting to get behind the wheel of Driveclub but the PS4 has another racer to look forward to – and this one supports Project Morpheus. Wearing Sony’s VR headset, you’ll be able to peer at the dashboard or admire the scenery and weather effects while you bomb around a racetrack at high speed. Just try to keep one eye on the road, eh?
We hadn’t really thought about Oculus Rift as something you could use to play platform games, but this charming jumpabout shows VR can be a lot more versatile. You play a cartoon fox who springs about a multicoloured world that will be familiar to anyone who’s played Crash Bandicoot or anything else in the same vein – but the viewpoint, floating like cloud-riding Lakitu from the Mario games, is new and exciting. It does feel weird for a minute or two as your brain adjusts to this new form of perception, but it soon becomes natural. Most impressive is the main menu, a Super Mario World-esque map that you can peer at and zoom in on like a curious giant.
With a premise reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Private Eye puts you in the un-scuffed shoes of a paralysed detective, consigned to a wheelchair and suffering from amnesia in his New York apartment. A murder has been committed and you must use a pair of binoculars and any other objects within reach to solve the crime and stop the killer striking again.
On a flat screen, this game is scary. When you’re trapped in virtual reality, it becomes a nervejangling brownquake of bowel-loosening terror, on a par with the genre-creating film from whose chest it exploded. It’s not just the immersive graphics and sound, although these do a horribly good job of convincing you that you really are locked in a drifting spaceship with a hissing, invincible nightmare made from knives and acid. It’s also the control system: take the proximity sensor, for example (you have no weapons that can kill the alien, so the only way to survive is to stay away from it). In the flatscreen version, you press a button to pull up the sensor and watch the deadly green blob moving across the screen. In the Oculus version, you have to physically look down to see the sensor. This feels wrong at an instinctive level, because you’re turning your body away from the unsafe space that harbours the claws and teeth from which you’re hiding, exposing the top of your head and the back of your neck. In fact, our one worry is that Alien: Isolation is a little too good at stimulating the primal fears at the centre of our mammal-brains. Playing it alone, on a more advanced version of the Oculus, might be more than we could handle.
The Assembly is about a mysterious group of scientists experimenting on people and animals in an underground lab. Little more is known about it apart from the fact that it’s being made for VR (that includes both Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift) and will be available at the launch of both – the timing of which is another mystery that could do with being solved.
The first game to really show what this new generation of virtual reality was capable of, Valkyrie’s intergalactic dogfighting is simple but effective, reminiscent of the X-Wing games of the ’90s. Rift support allows you to look around the cockpit and even down to see your own legs, while aiming missiles is also taken care of just by looking at what you want to blast.