While my first experience with VR was in the mid-’90s with the VFX-1, my introduction to the latest round of VR devices was at E3 2012 when John Carmack showed Doom 3 in VR at the Bethesda booth on a newly-announced but not-yet-released HMD called the Oculus Rift, which was little more than a motion-tracking display duct-taped to an elastic ski goggle strap. The refresh rate was slow and the resulting experience was slightly nauseating if you spent more than a few minutes in the headset, but even then I understood what this new tech was going to mean to gaming, as well as to myriad other industries.
Bethesda was one of the earliest supporters of VR development, so it’s no surprise that they have made some of the most-anticipated VR game announcements to date, most notably Fallout 4 VR and Doom VR, which were both announced at its E3 2016 press conference. Since AAA games are so resource-intensive and therefore economically risky to develop, many of the big early VR gaming experiences are going to be translations of existing titles, but that’s not so bad when you’re talking about some of the deepest, most fun and engaging gaming experiences of all time.
Another year, another E3, so what can we expect from Bethesda at this year’s show?
What We Know
Bethesda’s press conference is on Sunday, June 11 at 6:30pm Pacific, and we know Fallout 4 VR is going to be a big part of that presentation. We played Fallout 4 VR extensively last year, but it’s been 12 months since we’ve seen the game’s progress, so we expect a huge leap this year in terms of what Bethesda is showing as Fallout 4 will undoubtedly be the VR highlight at Bethesda’s presser.
While Fallout 4 is the only VR title that Bethesda has confirmed will be at the show at this time, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll have at least one other VR-related announcement at the show, and perhaps two or more others.
What We Expect At E3
My guess is Bethesda will focus on the Vive version during the conference, but will announce Fallout 4 is coming to PSVR, and the PSVR version will have a bigger showing at the PlayStation conference on Monday. Teleport was the only locomotion system available in the E3 2016 demo, but Bethesda has made it clear that Fallout 4 VR will be the full game with various locomotion options, so we fully expect to try some of those variants at E3. I’m particularly curious to see if the game will support full locomotion. It’s personally what I would want out of an experience like Fallout to make it as immersive as possible, but we’ll have to see if it’s plausible in such a vast world without making the average player feel like they’ve had one too many rum and Nuka colas.
We haven’t heard anything definitive at this point, but I would also expect to get an update on Doom VR at the show, as well as get some hands-on time with a new playable level. While Doom was little more than a tech demo last year, I’ve seen plenty of games in various stages of development over the years, and I have no doubt Doom VR will be a full-blown experience with deep gameplay.
E3 Crystal Ball
The biggest surprise for everyone would be if Bethesda dropped the Megaton and said that Fallout 4 VR was “available tonight,” just like they did with the Fallout Shelter mobile game in 2015. I could see it happening, but I think it’s more realistic that Bethesda will announce a release date later in 2017, so at least we won’t have to wait that long to play.
While recent rumors suggest Bethesda is working on Skyrim VR, the same rumors also report Bethesda may not show it at E3. Personally, I at least expect a mention. Since Fallout 4 and Skyrim run on the same engine, the translation work Bethesda has already done for Fallout 4 VR would make Skyrim VR a natural candidate for a relatively easy transition into virtual reality – well at least easier than building a game of that scale from the ground up — and honestly I think a VR sword-swinging, bow-shooting, medieval dungeon crawler will be even more popular than the apocalyptic setting of Fallout.
Whatever happens, Fallout 4, Skyrim and Doom are the kinds of games that will be killer apps for VR, and will sell VR units as gamers look for the most immersive experience. I can’t wait for E3 to begin!
What do you think Bethesda will show at E3 2017? Let us know in the comments below!