ARTICLE BY ALEXIS MACKLIN
The number of VR companies and demos at E3 2017 has more than doubled from 53 exhibitors in 2016 to 126 this year. However, despite the growing presense of virtual reality at E3, VR didn't make as big of a media splash at E3 2017 as it had at E3 2016. Nevertheless, there were many implications for anyone creating virtual reality applications - both VR games and non-games alike.
Entrance of New Studios
E3 brought together some of the first VR titles from experienced gaming studios. Skydance Interactive, formerly The Workshop Entertainment, worked on major titles for The Evil Within, Gears of War 4 and Fallout 4. Now the company is releasing it's first VR title, Archangel, an apocalyptic robot FPS game available for PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift in Summer 2017. Ready at Dawn, known for the God of War series, is releasing Lone Echo, a single-player space adventure, and Echo Arena, a multiplayer partner to Lone Echo, for Oculus Rift.
These experienced studios are bringing a level of quality and cinematic experience original VR games have been lacking. Both Archangel and Echo Arena are visually impressive. The companies' emergence into VR is also promising. Consumers should expect to see more known gaming studios release VR gaming titles throughout the year and at E3 2018.
Surprising Game Mechanics From Indie Devs
Although big companies and gaming studios dominated E3, the indie gaming studios brought interesting game mechanics to E3's IndieCade. Two standout VR titles were Stifled and Virtual Virtual Reality.
Gattai Games' Stifled imagined a new way to be afraid. The player must use sound to see in the game. The graphics for most of the game look like simple black and white lines, but the anticipation of the unknown, speaking in the dark to see, builds suspense like the best horror movie. The game has been delayed from its original release and is available for PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
The most surprising of VR games at E3 was Virtual Virtual Reality. The game is only currently available for Daydream and has simple controls through the Daydream controller, but offers a complex story. Reminiscent of Portal, the single-player puzzle game tells a story of an apocalyptic future where robots have humans perform tasks in VR.
Prepare For eSports and Multiplayer
Although some of the biggest VR announcements from PlayStation and Bethesda all featured single-player titles, multiplayer VR games had a significant presence at E3.
At the beginning of E3, a major VR announcement came from Intel and Ready at Dawn. Intel is partnering with ESL to bring VR to esports through VR Challenger League and Ready at Dawn's Echo Arena will be a part of the league.
Gunheart, the first game from Drifter Entertainment, was another promising online multiplayer VR game. The title is full-length and will be available for PSVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Gunheart is fast moving for a VR game through teleportation with interesting weapons including a crossbow the player can direct after the arrow is shot.
In addition to new titles, Sprint Vector and Raw Data from Survios had a successful show. The multiplayer games saw a consistent amount of consumers demoing and attracted a crowd of spectators.
The multiplayer games are lacking an immersive story that gamers are waiting for. The titles have surface level objectives, but the gameplay is compelling. Social interaction through multiplayer could be a big success for VR gaming and exposure to esports will be one way to get in front of more gamers.