Eagle Flight from Ubisoft debuted this week, arriving for the Oculus Rift with an innovative approach to navigating a virtual world. You can fly, using the tilt of your head to choose a direction. There are streaking particles that give the impression of rushing wind as well as a vignetting feature that narrows your view of the world during intense movement.
Together, the features represent the very latest in simulated locomotion design, giving visitors a new kind of sensation in VR — that of flying. For other developers, Eagle Flight offers the first glimpse of new ideas for navigating a virtual world.
It’s never been more clear that VR is still a new medium than with games like Minecraft and Eagle Flight attempting to find the right set of comfort features for users. Minecraft, for instance, includes a mode that rotates the world in quick snaps that are more comfortable than turning with a gamepad’s stick. These kinds of comfort features were immediately turned off by a writer for Polygon, who then wrote “Minecraft on Oculus Rift is not ready for human consumption” shortly after getting sick.
In light of headlines like that, I can understand why the vignetting feature on Eagle Flight (Review: 7.5/10) is not optional. It might be frustrating for some, however, who don’t suffer from simulator sickness and find it distracting. Just because vignetting isn’t optional now, though, doesn’t mean it will always be this way.
“For now, as players will probably show the game to other people around, some not having tried VR yet, we preferred to ensure that the game is a comfortable experience for most,” Ubisoft Game Director Olivier Palmieri told UploadVR.
He said they might “consider” whether the feature will be optional going forward. With Eagle Flight leading the way with an entirely new kind of virtual world navigation, Ubisoft’s choice is one both early adopters and VR developers should note.
What do you think? Should a feature like this be optional?