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The 6 Most Important VR Experiences At GDC

by Ian Hamilton • March 21st, 2016

For the UploadVR team, the Game Developers Conference began last Sunday when we started a week-long look at every available VR demo on Rift, Vive and PlayStation VR. Over the next few days we saw dozens of VR experiences on these systems and the six below stood out as representative of important advances in VR game design. These six examples are strong evidence VR in 2016 can be easy-to-use and provide hours of entertainment.

6.) Rift’s “Simple Remote” Can Power Great Games

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At one extreme, tracked controllers can bring your hands into VR for a more active experience. At another, a simple clicker and your head movements can be used for some great sit-down VR experiences. Defense Grid 2 and Dragon Front are two Oculus-exclusive games that showcase how the simple “Oculus Remote” can be used for a fun VR game. For some, a clicker in the hand might feel more familiar and easier-to-use than a traditional gamepad. These sit-down VR games show an incredible amount of detail and you’re rewarded for looking at things up close. Non-gamers might be surprised how easy it is to play a tower defense game like Defense Grid 2 or a card game like Dragon Front if all you have to do is look at something and press the button.

Read More: The Games And Rules of ‘Dragon Front

5.) Enjoying Eagle Flight’s Innovative Movement System

Six PC stations inside a room in San Francisco, each powering an Oculus Rift, are logged into the multiplayer game Eagle Flight by Ubisoft. I learn how to play pretty quickly. I can turn by tilting my head and if I tilt all the way down to my shoulder I turn faster. A few minutes later I’m in 3v3 air battles playing a kind of capture-the-flag game. Each team is trying to grab a rabbit and take it back to a specific perch. Players can hurl sound waves at enemy eagles while freely soaring around the sky. A direct hit transforms an enemy eagle into a puff of feathers. There’s a short respawn and then it’s 3v3 again.

A number of VR games like Rigs and EVE: Valkyrie put players in a cockpit so there’s a frame of reference in front of the intense simulated movement. Eagle Flight grants the player the full field of view afforded by modern VR goggles during comfortable flight but, during intense movement, dynamically shrinks. The movement system allows players to engage in quick skill-based multiplayer battles with birds circling each other in the sky. I didn’t hear anyone say it made them uncomfortable, but I also didn’t poll anyone.

Head of Oculus Studios Jason Rubin said he believes the system “is one piece of a puzzle we’ll be working on for years.” If the movement system can be adapted to other kinds of games with fast movement in VR, and no discomfort, there’s potential to make a lot of ideas work that had been deemed too uncomfortable. Even if it can’t be adapted to other games, Eagle Flight is coming to multiple wired VR headsets and will provide fun high-speed multiplayer battles in VR.

Read More: Eagle Flight’s Incredible Movement System

4.) Playing Multiplayer Rigs  In The Most Comfortable VR Headset

This PlayStation VR-exclusive game features 3v3 multiplayer battles. While the game itself is a lot of fun, I found myself wanting to take deep breaths while playing because I found the PlayStation VR headset so relaxing to wear. I noticed no light leakage and the headset fit snugly against my head. Different types of faces might find different headsets comfortable, but I found PlayStation VR to be the most physically comfortable compared with Rift and the Vive Pre, at least during short-term demos.

Rigs itself is a fun multiplayer game. Playing it inside the PSVR headset, though, was an utter delight.

Read More: Rigs Is Like Unreal Tournament With Mechs

3.) Games You Could Play For Hours

VR can show you anything, but dual-wielding weapons against wave after wave of enemies coming from all directions fits room-scale VR in the same way being inside a cockpit perfectly fits seated VR. Space Pirate Trainer is far from the only example in this genre, but it’s already proving to be a fun skill-based single-person VR game that Vive players might come back to on a daily basis. There’s a kind of emotional connection you can make with a game after you’ve played it and most videos can’t do a VR game justice, so if you haven’t played Space Pirate Trainer on the HTC Vive and you watch the video above of Colin Northway reaching wave 20, your brain can’t process the achievement. You might as well be watching an all-star basketball player sinking three-pointers as if it was nothing or a real-world gunslinger artfully destroying every target. “This would get boring after about 10 minutes,” says one commenter about the video above. Northway responds: “I have played for 17 hours. You just have no idea what it’s like to play from this .”

Read More: Our First Look at Space Pirate Trainer

2.) 2v2 Oculus Touch Battles In Dead and Buried

Built by Oculus, Dead and Buried spotlights the Oculus Touch controllers for 2v2 gunslinging battles. Survios is building Raw Data and Hover Junkers is coming too, but Dead and Buried offered the first look at what a multiplayer shooting game might look like on the Oculus Rift when each of your hands can wield a gun. You can voice chat with your teammate and even give a virtual high-five. Challenging real people to a gunfight ended up bringing us some of the most fun we’ve had in VR, period. The game is representative of why buyers have a lot to look forward to when the Oculus Touch controllers are eventually released.

Read More: Hands-On With Dead And Buried

1.) Photorealistic Landscapes And Teleportation in Valve’s The Lab

The Lab from Valve is coming to HTC Vive with between 10 and 15 experiences. Four of them we tried at GDC were incredibly compelling demonstrations of room-scale VR in very different  ways — including humor, photorealism, room-scale gaming and haptics — and we cannot wait to see all of the experiences in an HTC Vive in our own homes. The video above uses photogrammetry techniques to provide a photorealistic VR environment you can walk through, which is very similar to one of the experiences shown in The Lab.

Read More: The Lab Is The Ultimate Room-Scale VR Demo

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