When we arrived at the Oculus Game Days showcase before GDC on Sunday, March 13th, we didn’t really have a good idea what to expect. Of course, we knew the event would show off a lot of multiplayer and a lot of unseen games, but the schedule Oculus provided us via email was only a small snapshot of the 30 Rift launch titles they have slated for later this month. The event itself showed dozens of the games.
Day one for the Oculus Rift is easily one of the most diverse launch lineups in platform history, but I’m not so sure there is as much depth as people are hoping for. In fact, the only two must-buy titles that will be available on day one are already packaged with the device itself.
Best of Both Worlds
Of the 30 launch titles we know about, only eight of them were built from the ground up for VR and the best two of that bunch are already bundled. The other 22 games are either Gear VR ports or ports of non-VR games. That’s not to discredit them – several of them are great, inventive, and truly entertaining experiences. But when evaluating a lineup of launch titles – the titles that will define a platform for its first users – it’s more important than ever to lend a critical eye.
Lucky’s Tale is positioning itself to be the big character of the new generation of gaming, the mascot of VR if you will. Following in the footsteps of Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Banjo-Kazooie, Crash Bandicoot, and several others, Lucky’s Tale wants to attract the bright-eyed and bushy tailed new gamers that have yet to embrace VR as a legitimate new medium for video games. It brings the games of old that we know and love into a brand new view that no one’s ever experienced before.
EVE: Valkyrie, on the other hand, is something entirely new. We’ve played space combat shooters before of course. Elite: Dangerous is also coming to the Oculus Rift as a launch title, for example, but EVE: Valkyrie was specifically created for VR. One of the primary features involves using your head as a kind of third analog stick to target and track ships for your missile lock-on. That simply couldn’t exist outside of VR.
The great thing about EVE: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale is that they represent entirely opposite ends of the spectrum for games. On the one hand, you’ve got a colorful, bright, and happy character action game that delivers classic gameplay and experiences that you expect, but this time from a brand new perspective. It puts you inside the world. Then, on the other hand, you’ve got a fast, frenetic, and intense space dogfighting game that features some of the best visuals and most intense action available in any game on any platform. These look like two top-notch games that would easily be worth the full asking price, but you get them for free just by pre-ordering the Oculus Rift.
Breadth Before Depth
The rest of the launch lineup has a lot of great titles, but they’re games you can play elsewhere for cheaper or may have already played before. On the day that fully-fledged consumer-facing VR launches to the masses, I feel like people had higher (albeit lofty) expectations for a deeper and more robust lineup of large-scale games and that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen when the Oculus Rift arrives on your doorstep.
The hard truth of the matter is that, despite the diversity and long list of games available to purchase and download, the only two that we’d consider true must-buy titles that should be experienced ASAP in order to frame your perspective of VR as a whole are the two that are already included with the device. That’s not to say many of the other games available aren’t good, but we had a hard time finding any coming at launch that could match the competitive spirit engaged by Valkyrie or the wonder inspired by Lucky’s Tale.
We’re definitely excited for games like The Climb, Edge of Nowhere and Dragon Front coming for the Rift in coming weeks and months, as well as the titles we’ve seen using the upcoming Oculus Touch controllers, including Dead and Buried and VR Sports. But Lucky’s Tale and EVE Valkyrie have the advantage of being in development for VR for quite a long time and it shows when compared to the other games we saw.