Once again, Oculus VR has come to GDC to preview the games heading to the Oculus Rift later this year. And it's a motley bunch.
The titles I tried at the show varied from first-person shooters to collectible card games, but in terms of quality and length they are all far closer to the "AAA" experiences we've been hankering for in VR. They also all show how Oculus Touch has already become indispensable.
My top pick of the bunch was From Other Suns, a multiplayer first-person space game where you team up with friends to command a ship and take on missions together. Not only is it a great demonstration of multiplayer VR in action, but the developers also found an interesting way of solving the walking problem. Rather than teleporting from spot to spot, you hold down a button and see yourself walking to the location in third-person view. It's far less nauseating.
inXile Entertainment's Mage's Tale, meanwhile, is a dungeon crawler that lets you use the Touch controls to throw fireballs and Emperor Palpatine-like shots of lightning. The game also has an interesting crafting element where you can experiment with making spells by pouring different potions into a cauldron and stirring them together with a massive ladle - and honestly, I could have spent hours doing this without even getting into the meat of the game.
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Even in Dragon Front, a Hearthstone-esque card game, the point-and-click mechanism felt much more intuitive with Touch controls. The same goes for Blade & Soul, a table-top, figurine-based strategy game in which I spent ages just picking up the miniatures and examining them in great detail. Brass Tactics from Hidden Path Entertainment was also in the strategy category, a game in which you control medieval armies from a god's eye view. It's a well fleshed out real-time strategy game with some very clever hand controls that will make you question how you ever directed virtual armies without the use of your hands.
And Robo Recall? I've previously gushed about my love for what I've played of this game, but it may still be the best showcase for the Touch Controllers. Ripping a robot limb from limb before using its arm to beat another to death is reason alone for VR to exist.
All of which is to say the Oculus Rift is a much more promising bit of hardware than it was a year ago. All of these games are still in development, but will be available some time this year on the Oculus Rift. They'll start as exclusives but some, like Blade & Soul, will likely make their way onto other systems eventually.
Most of the games I played at GDC were built from scratch for Touch; others were at least completely reworked. I'm sure developers will keep making titles with gamepad support, but I expect to see fewer and fewer of them.
Because after trying this lot, it's clear that Touch is the way forward. The only problem is that right they're $199 a pop, which makes the overall Rift experience more expensive than the HTC Vive. They're also sold separately, unlike the Vive's wands, but I think there will have to be a point where they're bundled with the headset instead of (or with) the Xbox One controller.
It's clear that Touch is the future of the Rift, so there's no point pretending otherwise.
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