Last year’s E3 was pivotal for virtual reality due to it taking place before the launch of Oculus Touch and PlayStation VR (PSVR,) a fact reflected on the expo floor with a heavier presence then. Although 2017 didn’t have quite as large of a presence overall, there were still plenty of quality experiences that the UploadVR team got the chance to play. This one’s all about the Oculus Rift.
The VR gaming ecosystem has a large collection of immersive experiences that take advantage of the platform, but consumers are looking to see how VR will transform genres they know and love. At E3, we saw a couple games that will bring some competitive flavor to the headset and another experience that is still moving us days later.
Runner-Up: Echo Arena
High-quality competitive experiences rule a lot of the conversation when it comes to gaming, especially with the astronomical rise of Esports. With that said, VR is under a microscope as gamers and possibly even developers look out for impactful competitive gameplay experiences on immersive platforms. Ready at Dawn’s Lone Echo is an immersive, zero-G adventure that will be releasing on July 20th and Echo Arena is a spin-off that’s their attempt at the “sport of the future” — and boy is it a good one. In our previous write-up, the game was compared to the Battle Room of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novel Ender’s Game and the comparison gains even more weight after a hands-on that had the UploadVR team facing each other a zero-G disc-throwing contest. Pushing off various objects or using hand mounted propulsion to move around the arena, grabbing the disc, and throwing for a pass or to score all felt natural and it didn’t take long for the competition to get intense. With some impressive spectator tools and a promotional push, Echo Arena could find itself at the forefront of VR’s competitive space.
For more about what we think of Echo Arena, check out some hands-on impressions from a pre-E3 showing here.
Runner-Up: Space Junkies
The competitive multiplayer first-person shooter genre is another that needs to find a poster-child to better permeate out to the casual consumer and Space Junkies has all the tools to be such a game. At E3, we got a chance to play a few matches against devs in a 2v2 format. The game is showing off Ubisoft’s VR engine “Bridgette” and we came away quite impressed. The developers are focusing on 2v2 and 1v1 matches and, while the maps can be pretty big, it felt just right for the 2v2 matches we played. In Space Junkies you’re treated to some classic Arena shooter gameplay where you start with a standard gun but can pick up various others while moving around the map. You can dual wield a charged shotgun and pistol, snipe with a rail gun you have to use with both hands, or even slingshot some explosives at your enemies. The action was intense but the movement was comfortable and not disorienting throughout. Ubisoft already has several VR successes between Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Eagle Flight, and Werewolves Within, and now Space Junkies has the potential to solidify their spot in the immersive market.
For more details on why Space Junkies stood out to us, check back later this week.
Best Rift Game of E3 2017 – Transference
It’s now a whole week later and we’re still thinking about and talking about Transference at UploadVR. Unfortunately it’s difficult to describe exactly what it’s about or what we did in the demo without completely spoiling and ruining it all, but it was easily the most unsettling and impactful experience we had all week. With heavy themes relating to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) familial abuse, violence, and fragmented memories, Transference isn’t for the faint of heart. This was hands-down the most intriguing new VR announcement of E3 2017 and the best game we played on the Oculus Rift.
You can read more about our tense time with Transference right here.