When Fantastic Beasts VR released in 2016 with the Google Daydream headset there was a lot of excitement around the potential for a fully-fledged non-mobile VR adaptation. Imagine being able to move around the world and explore the magical landscapes, casting spells, and discovering the curious creatures inside Newt Scamander’s briefcase.
What we’ve got on Steam today feels like an almost direct port of the Daydream version and a major missed opportunity.
Instead of fully adapting the experience to roomscale headsets such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, it appears that the teams at Warner Bros. and Framestore were instead happy with what amounts to basically a fixed-position camera. It’s more like gazing at 360-degree 3D photos and videos than actual VR worlds you can explore.
The motion controllers on the HTC Vive are infinitely superior to the Daydream’s so casting spells feels better, but this is still a shallow attempt at bringing the Harry Potter VR world to VR headsets in the way that we all want. It doesn’t help that this is also hot on the heels of the shamefully bad Jumanji VR experience, which is not a good look at all.
At least Eddie Redmayne (who plays Newt Scamander in the film) seems to like it:
Perhaps this port is at least indication that Warner Bros. is committed to bringing more aspects of the Wizarding World to VR headsets, but hopefully in the future those experiences take the medium’s true potential into consideration.