The future is here! At this year’s gamescom in Cologne, virtual reality was one of the dominating trends. Almost every bigger studio has at least one project in the pipeline, and you couldn’t help but notice that VR was being pushed at the annual expo. While there were generally not very many gaming stations in the business to customer halls, where you could check out new titles, there were definitely quite a few VR booths. The guys and girls over at Gaijin Entertainment invited us to visit them in order to try out a virtual reality demonstration for their upcoming action game Crossout.
The demo used the iconic OculusRift headset that rose to fame during its Kickstarter campaign. The developers made sure to stress that the project was only a showcase prototype to demonstrate what is theoretically possible with the OculusRift. There are no specific plans to officially release the demo to the public yet. Naturally, that didn’t stop us from putting on the headset and virtually climbing into the deadly vehicle.
First Virtual Reality Test
I was the first to jump into the chair and delve into the post-apocalyptic world. I had never used virtual reality before, so I was curious to see whether it would have a physical impact on my body. I put on the bulky headset and was given one controller for each hand. Think of a PlayStation controller split in half, one side for each hand. They might look bizarre, but it is surprising how well they work!
My first reaction was complete awe. It was incredible to actually delve into a digital world. I quickly forgot that I was sitting in a tiny room with a few international colleagues and a developer from Gaijin. My only link to reality were the controllers, which you can actually see in the digital world, making it a lot easier to find your way around.
One Demo – Two Parts
The demo consisted of two parts. First, I got to select various weapons, decorations, and armor for my vehicle and start customizing it. It worked very smooth to look around the room to see all the options and then grab the items I wanted with the controller. I had never had so much fun in the virtual workshop of an action game. I was able to place everything exactly where I wanted and was very relieved that my first VR experience started slowly.
After I was satisfied, I immediately delved into the map. I was placed in the middle of a post-apocalyptic wasteland and was supposed to enter the arena. It took a moment to find my bearings though. I sat in the vehicle that I had just customized and was steering it from a first-person point of view. I had to hold my hands in front of me to move the steering wheel of the car. I couldn’t believe how well the controls worked. It reminded me of the disappointment of playing Mario Kart on the Wii for the first time using the plastic steering wheel that you put your Wii-Mote into. The controls in Crossout were far more refined.
In the arena, the action immediately began. This was where I realized that playing an action game in VR brings some important gameplay benefits. I was able to look around me to see where my enemies were and always had an overview of what was going on. At the same time, I also felt a little overwhelmed at all of the impressions that my brain suddenly had to deal with. After a very smooth start into my first VR experience, my brain got confused and disconnected after my car was rammed by another vehicle. I started getting slightly dizzy as my brain couldn’t quite process that I didn’t feel any impact after that incident.
I utterly loved the Crossout VR demo! I thought the folks over at Gaijin did an amazing job at developing an intuitive virtual reality demo that was fast paced and fun. I would be surprised if they never released it in the future. That being said, I also have to say that I am not quite sure how sustainable VR will be. I can't imagine long play sessions, as it gets dizzying and made me feel somewhat detached from reality after I was done. I think that it's an amazing experience and worthwhile for shorter play sessions (arcades anyone?), but I'm not sure whether it will work in hardcore gaming.