VR is a platform where the tech itself is continuing to evolve as developers tackle input challenges and locomotion, so the individual genres also have experiences that are different from each other. The virtual reality ecosystem is diverse as a result of this, but can also be a challenge to pick through with some unrecognizable names scattered about. That’s certainly not to say there aren’t developers making a name for themselves exclusively with VR games, as we covered previously with a list of emerging devs within the industry like Survios and Cloudhead Games, but it would be a boon to have non-VR game developers start to permeate into the market more.
As an example, Media Molecule has thrived while building upon their “Play, Create, Share” ideal with an aesthetic and youthful excitement reminiscent of Pixar and Disney productions. Animation platform Mindshow, abstract VR art installation Blortasia, and similar programs are tapping comparable experiences to what Media Molecule provides to non-VR gamers. Since the developer is now bringing their Dreams game to VR and will potentially bring a loyal community they’ve already fostered along with them, it bodes well.
Insomniac, the studio that’s given us Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank, successfully launched three VR titles in 2016, showing that big AAA studios can make it work. The other developers on this list could find themselves transitioning into the growing medium in a similar way with content based on existing titles or even original IPs.
Developed: Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls
Current Project(s): Detroit: Become Human
Quantic Dream created a cult hit in their adventure thriller Indigo Prophecy that opened with players cleaning up their own murder scene, but they’ve carved out a defined corner in gaming since. Each of the games they’ve done since Indigo Prophecy were preceded by intense tech demos that exhibited incredible detail and emotional performances by digital characters that were loosely tied to the games they inspired.
If the tech demos aren’t enough to convince you they’d craft quality content, they’ve stepped the production value up over time and even brought Hollywood faces into adventure games that often reflect cinema structure and pacing. With the immersion and the perspective shift of VR, Quantic Dream would thrive in this medium.
Developed: Company of Heroes 2, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II
Current Project(s): Dawn of War III
2016 was incredible for the strategy and RTS genres. The year started strong with Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak in January followed by XCOM 2 in February and Civilization VI attracted surprisingly larger sales than previous Civ games on its release. In VR, we’ve gotten a taste of what unit and resource management looked like with a few scattered games and even got a brief glimpse of Command and Conquer, but the fan-made remake was shot down by EA, but nothing has shown the depth and intricacy genre veterans crave.
Relic Entertainment (or any of the strategy game devs Sega has acquired really) taking the reigns on a VR strategy title or RTS would allow someone to evolve the genres while setting a sturdy foundation built on experience and quality. The overlord-like view of the battlefields is one that would benefit greatly from the freedom of movement and control within virtual spaces.
Developed: Borderlands, Duke Nukem Forever, Battleborn
Current Project(s): Borderlands 3 (rumored)
From the world of Half-Life to Brothers in Arms to Borderlands, Gearbox Software has enough experience across very different styles of FPS to bring an engaging experience to a first-person VR game that would thrill, challenge, and thoroughly entertain gamers.
Borderlands is the development team at their best, providing players with a humorous and fun loot-fest and a trip to that game’s world would be a benefit to the VR ecosystem, whether they developed a new form of locomotion or just adapted current ideas. A mainstream FPS is an easy way to attract the eyes of the casual and hardcore collectively and Gearbox would be an intriguing option to execute such a feat.
Developed: Tales From Borderlands, TellTale’s The Walking Dead, Minecraft: Story Mode
Current Project(s): The Walking Dead: New Frontier (Episodes 3-5), Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series
TellTale, much like Quantic Dream, have the adventure genre to thank for their claim to fame. The adventure interaction interface would translate well into VR, either utilizing the controllers for movement or even tapping into room scale so players move their entire bodies around scenes. Games like The Gallery and Obduction have translated that genre to VR extremely well thus far.
TellTale makes it here for another reason, though. The company has had great success showing different sides of games and even bringing definitive game experiences to popular shows, films, and other works of fiction. They continue to gather more and more licenses and it would pay dividends to not only have such quality games for VR users, but also have widely popular works attached to them.
Developed: Shin Megami Tensei IV, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Current Project(s): Persona V
Atlus has developed and published a wealth of video games, but their entry on this list is predicated on the Shin Megami Tensei and Persona JRPGs. SMT is a dark and brooding experience with first-person conflicts and conversations with demons that would be enhanced in VR. The recent Persona games are dungeon crawling experiences that supplement turn-based combat with an engaging social link system with NPCs that is something that hasn’t been on display in many VR games.
Entries for both games or some new experience that blends ideas from them would be welcome in the virtual reality and provide players with some needed depth and diversity.
Developed: Dark Souls 3, Bloodborne
Current Project(s): Armored Core (rumored) and Two Unknown Projects
This popular developer is rumored to be working on three games at the time with one being a Souls influenced game, one being a mech title, and another that’s an original project. While we previously reported on the Souls‘ creator speaking on his hopes to move into VR with the Souls series, Armored Core is the real reason they made the entry here.
RIGS on PS VR has shown us what a game could look like from the cockpit of a mech but we could certainly do with more in less of a sporting event setting. Armored Core could be another notch on the mech side, allowing players to customize their armaments to their heart’s content before taking on mercenary work for various corporations as is often the structure of the AC franchise. They could end up losing the race to the popular Mechwarrior series, though, which we reported is in the works with VR support in mind for 2018.
Developed: The Last Guardian (Previously as Team ICO, developed ICO and Shadow of the Colossus)
Current Project(s): Unknown
The Last Guardian finally released in late 2016, the third game from legendary game designer Fumito Ueda. Previously, as the head of Team ICO, Ueda made a name for himself with the hauntingly beautiful and esoteric adventures in ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. That signature style would lend itself well to the immersive sense of scale in a VR title.
Ueda has already stated his interest in “creating something for VR” which is a good sign, but we have no idea when or if that project will ever actually be created. His development aesthetic is entirely unique and adored by fans, but he’s also notorious for taking a very long time to finalize and release his creations. Keep your fingers crossed!
Developed: Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Knights of the Old Republic
Current Project(s): Mass Effect: Andromeda
Finally, this game studio has made a name for themselves over the years as the purveyors of wonderful role-playing games. Almost everything they’ve touched has turned to gold and they’re currently juggling a variety of franchises that all feature a wide cast of diverse characters, a multitude of settings, and massive worlds to explore — or even entire universes for that matter.
While any of their existing IPs would be amazing to visit inside of a VR headset (Mass Effect comes to mind as a perfect futuristic sci-fi setting) we’d be most interested in seeing them employ their storytelling prowess in an immersive, made-for-VR role-playing game unlike anything we’ve seen before. If anyone’s going to make the first multi-dozen hour VR epic, it should be Bioware.
Some portions of this article were contributed by David Jagneaux.