During a recent Sony event, I got the chance to try my hand at a variety of upcoming virtual reality games from a selection of studios, all of which are headed to the PlayStation VR (and, in some cases, other platforms, though my demos were exclusively on the PSVR). My time with each was limited, but here’s a quick peek at what I got to see.
Blood & Truth
When the PSVR first launched, fans had the chance to try PlayStation VR Worlds, a collection of short VR games that let players get a taste for the different genres and experiences future virtual reality games might offer. The most popular of these games by far was The London Heist, a first-person action shooter that set players searching for a diamond and engaging in a series of intense action-packed shootouts.
Now, the same team that made The London Heist is drawing on that experience to make Blood & Truth, a similarly action-packed, James Bond–style shootout that’s been fleshed out into a fully-fledged six hour game. In the demo, I crawled along a rooftop, teleporting from safe spot to safe spot and ducking—phsyically, with the PSVR’s motion sensors—behind cover. With two guns at my disposal, I leaned around cover and aimed to take down the targets that popped up around me. While I had some trouble hitting faraway targets (it’s not like there’s a crosshair for physically pointing your arms), the experience, overall, worked. For any fans of The London Heist, Blood & Truth is back to give the same experience, but now as a more complete experience.
The second shooter I tried at the event, Evasion had me using the PlayStation VR Aim Controller, a vaguely rifle-shaped plastic accessory that takes two hands. Where Blood & Truth was single-player, Evasion is geared towards playing cooperatively with a full team, though I was on my own for the demo. Your team, which ideally consists of multiple classes like the Engineer, Warden, Striker, and Healer, must face off against waves of alien, bug-like enemies while advancing forwards, finally taking down one massive bug alien boss. Each class performs different abilities, though all can pull items towards themselves with a simple click of the left trigger on the gun.
Evasion also offered several different movement options, and I went with one that gave me full control of the left stick (walking about as one does in most non-VR games), but slightly limited right stick camera controls (instead of a smooth panning motion, the camera would jump a small amount to the left or right whenever I touched the stick). I was pleasantly surprised to find that this worked well for me, since I can be susceptible to motion sickness in virtual reality, and was impressed by the amount of control each player could have to change their camera, movement, and field of view options so as to play the game however best suited them without affecting teammates.
While I didn’t have any other players with me in the demo, Evasion is definitely a game I’d like to try again with a larger group. The potential for co-op VR games has barely been tapped, and Evasion seems like a good start.
Firewall Zero Hour
Of course, VR shooters also have the potential for PvP action, and that’s what Firewall Zero Hour sets out to do, creating a team based, Rainbow Six Siege–ish style of virtual gameplay. Two teams of four players—staffed by myself, another journalist, and several Sony representatives—went head to head for a few rounds, attempting to retrieve or defend a laptop.
While team communication was encouraged, I had some trouble hearing my teammates sitting next to me in real life over the sounds of the game, so we were far from coordinated. Still, it was exciting seeing our team ready to roll out, and moving through the first room or two of the demo level to finally catch a glimpse of someone from the enemy team flashing past was a tense, heart-stopping endeavor.
There were a few wonky bits to Firewall Zero Hour—in the waiting room, everyone’s characters seemed to have broken arms, and I had a couple of clumsy gunfights where I’d have been dead in an instant with standard controls—but it seems on track to be one of the best VR shooters in development. With enough time to really learn the game, I could see players attaining a level of play with much higher skill than what I saw in the demo and making this one of virtual reality’s first true competitive shooters.
In a nice change of pace from all the shooters, I took a break to give Vacation Simulator a try. Vacation Simulator follows in the footsteps of Job Simulator, with the same monitor-faced floating office NPCs that players will be used to seeing from that VR title, and a huge array of objects around to interact with.
While there’s not as much straight gameplay as the shooters, Vacation Simulator’s world was (for all its cartoony style) the most realistic and immersive one I saw. The sheer amount of interactivity and the precision of picking up, turning around, and dropping objects made it feel more real.
Midway through my experience, I was standing under a waterfall, surrounded by beach toys. I’d picked up an inflatable bat in one hand, and was grabbing pool toys with my other hand, tossing them into the air, and bopping them away from me with the bat. It truly felt real—though I wasn’t actually throwing anything, I was able to time my toss and swings just as precisely as I would in the real world, and somehow the “impact” actually felt like bouncing a beach ball away.
At one point, a helpful Sony representative came over and pointed out that the NPC had sent me on a quest to collect butterflies. I hadn’t forgotten. I was just having so much fun throwing pool toys around that I didn’t care.