Sony has gone full steam ahead on its promotion for the PlayStation VR headset, which will arrive on October 13th with tons of games in tow and more to come shortly after. From experiences that present a twist on survival horror (Resident Evil VII: biohazard, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood) to games that take familiar franchises and bump them up to the next level with a fresh new perspective (Batman: Arkham VR) to unique experiences that define what fun VR games can be (Rez Infinite, 100 Ft. Robot Golf).
But with that, there’s always room to introduce new experiences for the headset, especially as next year comes along and the technology continues to evolve with new experiences. We already know a number of games are on the horizon – Ace Combat 7 and Gran Turismo Sport among them – but we’re talking major releases that fans will relate more to, especially ones that are a continuation of popular franchises.
That’s not to say we’ll be seeing Uncharted slapped together into a VR experience right away or at all, but this would be a unique opportunity for Sony to embrace the franchises that can really do something incredible with PlayStation VR, with a hint of familiarity coupled with refreshing technology, to truly present something new and wonderful.
With that, here are five suggestions of franchises we’d like to see make the jump to PlayStation VR down the road, if only because they seem like a natural fit for the device.
Ratchet & Clank
Even though the recently released animated film didn’t quite find the success Sony was looking for, there’s no question that Insomniac Games’ intergalactic duo have found more than enough victory in the gaming department. Getting their start on the PlayStation 2, the heroic lombax Ratchet, alongside his robotic compatriot Clank, have won over the hearts of millions of gamers. Recently, the team made their debut on the PlayStation 4 with a revitalized version of its original title on PS2, with Pixar-style graphics and entertaining gameplay.
So why would Ratchet & Clank be such a great team for the PlayStation VR? There are several things to consider. Firstly, the gameplay. While creating a first-person, open-world exploration game would be an enormous task, Insomniac could easily put together secondary activities that would tie into a huge adventure. For instance, having shoot-outs with enemies that are coming at Ratchet from all directions, similar to Serious Sam VR, but reconfigured to fit into Ratchet & Clank‘s world. Also, flight sequences where players could shoot enemies down through the reaches of space while making their way to the next planet. They could even eschew the first-person perspective and use the lessons they learned from their excellent Rift-exclusive third-person action thriller, Edge of Nowhere.
We’re not talking small demonstrations here, but game scenarios that would best utilize the technology and involve the players in an inventive manner, to keep them playing. While it may be a while until we see the duo come to the platform (Insomniac is currently hard at work on an adaptation of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 and two other VR games, Feral Rites and The Unspoken), it’d certainly be great to see down the road.
God of War
Last month, Sony announced a new chapter to the God of War franchise, but unlike any that we had ever seen before. Rather than focusing on the exploits of a heavily violent Kratos as he ripped apart enemies like papier mache, this one takes a more dramatic approach, as he’s aged quite a bit (complete with beard) and helps a young boy learn the ways of hunting, all while fending off dangerous enemies big and small – retaining the visceral nature the series has always been known for. This new entry also appears to follow a Nordic-mythology path, rather than the traditional Greek-mythology the previous series was based on.
Although Sony’s team is hard at work on the PS4 version of the game, a PlayStation VR edition wouldn’t be out of the question, one where players could see the world through Kratos’ eyes, seeking out items and attacking enemies that try to do harm to him. Utilizing PlayStation Move controllers that tie in with the VR headset, players could execute a number of moves while finishing off foes, then explore more in the environment to see what other dangers lie ahead – as well as keeping Kratos’ new young charge in good health.
Making the experience transition entirely to PlayStation VR could be a tricky move, but if Sony could capture some of the violent nature that fans have come to expect from God of War, there’s no reason why players wouldn’t enjoy it. Unless, of course, they aren’t up for the squeamish stuff, in which case 100 Ft. Robot Golf would be more their speed.
No Man’s Sky
One of Sony’s bigger upcoming games for the fall season is Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, a truly captivating first-person adventure where the player can explore a limitless number of galaxies – no, seriously, they go into the billions – and find new life, as well as engage in occasional combat and, if they’re lucky, run into their friends. It’s not easy finding a needle in a haystack, after all.
So what I find a bit odd is that Sony hasn’t introduced any kind of PlayStation VR component for No Man’s Sky just yet. Perhaps it’s just waiting to see if the original game establishes well with an audience before it moves that direction, or it just wants to see how much the initial PS4 game can do before asking, “Well, what’s left for VR?” But, to be honest, there’s really nothing stopping the team from Hello Games from reconfiguring the game into VR form. Every aspect of its gameplay – exploration, shooting, flying around the universe – would fit perfectly with the technology, and there’s no question fans would be bewildered by what they see each time they slip on the headset.
Again, Sony’s probably just making sure it has a hit on its hands before announcing a version for VR that will complement the original release. But judging by what I’ve seen thus far, it’d seem like a natural fit – and a safe bet. Especially considering that the game’s creator likes the idea as well.
MLB: The Show
While Sony doesn’t dabble nearly as much in sports games as it did back on the PlayStation (there’s a reason NFL Gameday bit the dust as quickly as it did), there is one franchise it continuously turns to when it comes to nailing down the aspects of a specific sport – MLB: The Show. Every year, Sony’s Santa Monica team really finds the essence of baseball, from rounding the bases on a home run to completing the rarity of a triple play, all with the convenience of great controls and options to keep baseball fans coming back throughout the summer.
So why can’t this experience translate to something in the PlayStation VR world? The truth is, it certainly can, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Sony announce something next year to coincide with the release of MLB 17: The Show. Imagine being able to take part in batting drills in a number of MLB-sanctioned stadiums – or even spring training, if you want true authenticity – or learning the power of a pitch by actually mimicking specific throws. It could be tiring to some, but it could also introduce a new twist on the series that fans didn’t even know they wanted.
Sure, making a baseball game that plays entirely in a VR world can be a tricky feat – imagine trying to slide for a base without actually sliding and wiping out your entertainment center as a result – but Sony’s Santa Monica team can surely put together something that wouldn’t just be a showcase for the PlayStation VR, but also an ideal showpiece that could fit right into ball stadiums and sell a few more customers on the headset. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the experience they best relate with and thousands of fans could certainly get behind baseball.
Shadow of the Colossus
For my final pick, I ran into a bit of a quandary. I had considered other games that would make for suitable experiences in the world of virtual reality, including Uncharted (which I mentioned above) and The Order: 1886, Sony’s alternate-history action shooter that came out last year. But there’s one game that I kept circling back to when it came to creating a majestic, original world that players would be entranced by – and that’s Shadow of the Colossus.
Initially released in 2005 by Team Ico (the developers of the critically acclaimed Ico and the upcoming The Last Guardian), Shadow of the Colossus asked players to do the insurmountable – riding out on horseback to face gigantic behemoths and bring them down to size while avoiding their monstrous attacks. This was done by targeting specific weak points where damage could be done to the colossi (colossuses?), eventually bringing them crumbling down. Scaling each beast was like a full level in and of itself.
The original PS2 game (and its HD PS3 remake, which came out years later) demonstrated gorgeous visual prowess, between both the design of the creatures and the world they dwelled in. And, surprise, that world would be a magnificent fit for VR. Imagine stalking the several-stories-high monstrosities in VR and seeing them in all their splendor, right before they try to crush you flat.
Team Ico’s currently hard at work wrapping up its long-in-development The Last Guardian for release on PS4 later this year, but there’s no question that a PS VR edition of Shadow of the Colossus should be its next ambitious project. After all, players can’t get enough of the original game, and reinventing it in a VR light would definitely draw more of them in to PlayStation’s device. Sure, getting crushed flat may hurt a bit, but that’s just part of the fun of the hunt!
Robert Workman is a freelance writer covering video games and other electronics with work featured in AOL, Gamecrate, and Opshead. You can follow him on Twitter: @TheDCD.