The Biggest Rift, Vive And Windows Releases Of The Week 29/07/18

The Biggest Rift, Vive And Windows Releases Of The Week 29/07/18

It’s a great week to be a PC VR owner. We’ve finally got a bunch of releases here that aren’t just shooters and puzzle games but instead genuinely deep and meaningful experiences.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition, from Ninja Theory
Price: $29.99 (Rift, Vive)

The VR port of one of last year’s best games, announced as a surprise release last week, is now available. In this engrossing exploration of mental health, you follow Senua on her journey to save her lover from death. Hellblade is dark and uncompromising but also an incredible display of high-end VR gaming that shouldn’t be missed.

Pixel Ripped 1989, from Arvore Immersive Experiences
Price: $24.99 (Rift, Vive, Windows)

A long-awaited VR nostalgia trip is finally here. In Pixel Ripped, you visit different scenes in the life of a young gamer playing through their favorite fictional gaming series. You play through various levels of these games on a virtual handheld console whilst also interacting with the real world. It’s an amazing idea and Pixel Ripped has plenty of charm.

Anamorphine, from Artifact 5
Price: $19.99 (Rift, Vive)

Another game focusing on mental health, Anamorphine follows a couple’s battle with depression after a tragic accident leaves one of them unable to play their beloved instrument. The game’s completely narrative-driven and has some interesting ideas, but poor VR optimization and some misjudged story-beats leave it feeling cold.

Moon Strike, from Big Dork Entertainment
Price: $19.99 (Rift, Vive)

A new take on the real-time strategy genre for VR. Moon Strike sees you commanding space-based battles with motion controllers and a fleet of ships at your finger-tips. Seize control of planets and blow up the enemy in fast-fire battles.

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Get 40% Off Hellblade As VR Version Launches Today

Get 40% Off Hellblade As VR Version Launches Today

The verdict is in: Hellblade VR is a triumph. Ninja Theory’s BAFTA-winning adventure was already worth your time on a flat screen, but it soars in VR and is simply unmissable if you own an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Good news, then: you can currently pick it up for almost half the price.

The original version of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is on sale on the Humble Store for the next week priced at $17.99/£14.99. That’s 40% off of the original price of $29.99/£24.99. Crucially, you can claim the game on Steam, meaning you’ll still get the free VR update when it goes live later today.

We loved what Ninja Theory did with Hellblade VR, calling it a “remarkable achievement in visual and sound design.”

“It’s a great example of how to port a non-VR third-person action game to the immersive realm of HMDs that not only stays true to the source material, but enhances the experience in meaningful ways,” Games Editor David Jagneaux wrote. “If you haven’t played Hellblade before, there is no better time than now and if you have, then this is an engrossing way to re-experience Senua’s journey from a new perspective.”

Elsewhere, Ninja Theory also confirmed that anyone that picked the game up on GOG instead of Steam will also be getting the VR version free. Yay!

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Hellblade VR Livestream: Venturing Deep Into The Human Mind

Hellblade VR Livestream: Venturing Deep Into The Human Mind

Tomorrow, Hellblade’s official VR support releases (for free to all current and future owners of the base game) on Steam for Rift and Vive. It requires a beefy PC to run and we’re checking it out live right here pre-release today on our livestream. Having played the non-VR game a year ago when it first released, I’m extremely excited to see this support revealed.

In Hellblade you take on the role of Senua on a harrowing Celtic journey into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of a lost lover. Through the adventure you battle demons of the physical, mental, and illusory variety as voices, hallucinations, and more see you stumble deep into madness. Hellblade was already one of the most immersive and atmospheric games ever made and VR really amps that up even more.

We’ll be livestreaming Hellblade VR on PC today using an Oculus Rift with a PS4 controller plugged into the PC starting very soon as of the time this is being published (which means we’ll start at approximately 12:00 PM PT) and aim to last for about an hour or so. We’ll be livestreaming directly to the UploadVR Facebook page. You can see the full stream embedded right here down below once it’s up:

Hellblade VR Livestream

Hellblade gets full VR support tomorrow and we're playing it a day early! This is a full VR version of Ninja Theory's award-winning psychological thriller action game.Read our full review at soon!

Posted by UploadVR on Monday, July 30, 2018

You can see our archived streams all in this one handy Livestream playlist over on the official UploadVR YouTube channel (which you should totally subscribe to by the way). All future and current streams will be on Facebook, which you can see a list of here.

Let us know which games you want us to livestream next and what you want to see us do, specifically, in Hellblade VR or other VR games. Comment with feedback down below!

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Ninja Theory Confirms No PlayStation VR Version of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice gained masses of critical praise when it was launched last year, gathering up a loyal fanbase as it did so. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice won acclaim due to its beautiful visuals and compelling storytelling. So excitement was high when a virtual reality (VR) version was announced just yesterday.

However, as always, not everyone is going to be happy. Those amazing visuals are deeply impressive to come from such a small studio, but they do come with a cost. In this case, users will need a high-end PC rig to run the title in VR, which sadly means it isn’t possible for it to run in VR mode on the PlayStation VR.

The developers at Ninja Theory confirmed the worst fears of PlayStation VR owners on Twitter, where a developer diary was posted, which explained that the demands of the graphics engine and the additional requirements of VR means that the PlayStation 4, even the PlayStation 4 Pro, just lacks the grunt to deliver what Ninja Theory would consider a satisfying experience.

Many people took to Twitter to express disappointment, which quite a few questioning why it was possible for a title as massive as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR to be on PlayStation VR, while Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice couldn’t. Other commenters were quick to point out the age of the graphical engine involved, and to remind people of just how small Ninja Theory was as a studio.

As has already been stated, the hardware requirements for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are quite hefty, where most VR PC titles can quite happily run on an NVIDIA 1060, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice requires a minimum of a NVIDIA 1080 or AMD Radeon 580 in order to run.

Regardless, the VR version of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is still a great achievement, and users of the HTC Vive and Oculus rift will get the chance to follow Senua’s journey in VR from 31st July, 2018.

Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice

For future coverage of new and upcoming VR projects, keep checking back with VRFocus.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition Coming to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

Having wowed audiences at events like SIGGRAPH in 2016 Ninja Theory launched its critically acclaimed adventure  Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice for PC in the summer of 2017. Today, in a surprise announcement the studio has confirmed a virtual reality (VR) version will be released this month.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice VRMaking the announcement via Twitter, Ninja Theory said that a Oculus Rift and HTC Vive versions would be released on 31st July, 2018. For owners of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice the VR edition will be free – it’s currently retailing for £24.99 GBP on Steam.

In addition to the announcement the studio also released a developer diary (seen below) giving further details about the VR edition and how it came to be. Some of the more interesting information contained in the video concerns the actual specifications of the PC to run the experience. While most VR titles usually recommend an NVIDIA GTX 970 or above, for  Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition you’ll need a minimum of a NVIDIA GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon RX 580.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition features Senua’s full journey from the original videogame plus additional experimental game modes and fully customisable comfort options notes the studio.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice VR

In the video Dominic Matthews, Commercial Director at Ninja Theory, notes: “Why did we do this? Well there was never really a good business case for Hellblade VR. We did it out of curiosity and out of the desire to find out more about VR, and because we thought the final experience would be something cool for our fans.”

The story in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition is set in the Viking age following a warrior’s brutal journey into myth and madness. Players are cast in the role of Senua, a broken Celtic warrior, embarking on a haunting vision quest into Viking Hell to fight for the soul of her dead lover.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition will be a free update to the original videogame on Tuesday, 31st July. For any further updates keep reading VRFocus.

Hellblade: Senua’ Sacrifice Is Coming To VR Next Week

A Screenshot of the Hellblade 360-degree trailer

Awesome news for fans of Ninja Theory and its excellent new game, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifce: it’s coming to VR headsets next week.

A developer diary from the studio reveals the surprise news. This is going to be the entire game converted into VR. It’s set to be free for anyone that already owns the game on Steam and will be releasing with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive support on July 31st. No word of a PSVR released just yet.

Hellblade is a narrative-driven action game that’s been critically lauded for exploring themes of mental health. You play as Senua, a warrior that descends on a journey into darkness in an attempt to resurrect her lover. The game actually already has a history with VR, having released a 360 degree trailer in the build-up to launch a few years back.

Ninja Theory itself was recently acquired by Microsoft, a company that’s been famously conservative with VR and its Xbox hardware. Could the company’s work with the platform indicate a brighter future for Xbox VR?

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First Look at ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ VR Edition

Ninja Theory, the minds behind BAFTA award-winning action-adventure game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017), have brought the full, uncut title to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. We got an exclusive first look at the game’s new VR edition, which is coming free to all owners of the PC game when the update goes live on Steam July 31st. The short of it: it has a few flaws, but it’s a great game.

Update (July 31st, 2018): The VR edition of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is now available as a free update to the base game. Both Steam and GOG versions of the game are said to arrive with the VR edition.

The original article follows below:

Original Article (July 25th, 2018): If you’ve never played Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, here’s a quick, spoiler-free primer. You can skip these two paragraphs if you’re already well-informed:

Played in the third-person, Senua is a warrior from the Orkney Islands, one of the many spots in the current day United Kingdom that was subject to Viking raids and later colonization throughout the eighth and ninth century. Battling against mythological creatures from both Scandinavian folklore and classic Norse mythology, you push Senua through difficult trials deep into Norse territory, all the while experiencing her pain and reliving her past. Senua suffers from psychosis, and according to the traditions of her people, she was sent to live in the forest alone to battle her own demons. Returning from the wilds, Senua, a fierce warrior, carries the skull of a loved one whose soul was taken hostage by the Norsemen, driving her to battle the gods in a fatalistic and shattered world of her own design.

One of Senua’s few happy memories, Image courtesy Ninja Theory

The game deftly addresses the very serious mental illness of psychosis—a descriptive term that can cover a host of maladies such as hearing voices, seeing hallucinations, and connecting dots that simply aren’t there, like assigning special meaning to everyday occurrences, or by creating elaborate fantasy worlds where the person is entirely immersed in solving cryptic puzzles that surround them in everyday life. This is the basis of the game; the world is constantly shifting, evil spirits confuse and battle you, and internal voices shout you down, casting doubt on your every move. For good reason, the game comes with a trigger warning—something doubly important for the VR version based on just how immersive it can be.

Now for VR

Ever since I started writing about virtual reality four years ago, I’ve found myself playing less and less traditional games, and replacing them almost entirely with VR titles. While I’m slightly ashamed to say I missed out on Hellblade’s PC release last year, my first opportunity to play it was in VR, and outside of a few minor niggles specific to the game’s VR implementation, I’m really glad my first experience with it was from within the immersive viewpoint of a VR headset.

Image courtesy Ninja Theory

I’ll start with some caveats, but I think you’ll find they’re easily outweighed by the game’s many (many) positives.

On a technical level, Hellblade at minimum requires an Intel i5 3570K or AMD FX-8350, 8 GB RAM, and either a NVIDIA GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon RX 580. Luckily, my testing rig meets those minimum specs, but I don’t suspect the majority of VR owners will. While I imagine lower-speced GPUs might be able to play on lower settings, as I was able to play on the highest possible settings without suffering reprojection with my GTX 1080, Ninja Theory was clear on the game’s minimum requirements for an acceptable experience.

Playing on ‘very high’ for all options—foliage, post-processing, shadows, textures, view distance, and view effects—I did notice at time that textures and some smaller game geometry take a noticeable bit to load in larger areas, which can sometimes detract from what would otherwise be a grand, detailed world. Knocking down to medium settings in some of those departments mitigated this somewhat, but overall the render distance on objects such as plants and rocks (read: far-field scenery loads consistently) appears to be a constant phenomenon, leading to some unsightly texture/geometry popping throughout the game.

Image captured by Road to VR

The game is in third-person, and there’s no chance of a first-person view coming. This is less of a hindrance than I thought it would be though, as the game can get pretty frightening at moments, what with all the binaurally-captured voices criticizing your every step (these can be turned down) and the ever winding path towards Senua’s declining mental state—it can be equally immersive and frightening, if not more so than many first-person VR games currently.

The last niggle: the only supported controllers are Oculus Touch, gamepads, and keyboard. Vive controllers were likely left out considering the nature of quick inputs needed during fighting sequences; a touchpad simply won’t do. Hopefully Vive users have a spare Xbox One gamepad lying around, because otherwise you’ll be using a standard WASD layout, which isn’t really a great way of playing. Touch controllers are supported, but predictably take the place of a gamepad, as there is no motion controller-specific support.

Caveats Be Damned to Helheim

While these main caveats could stop you from engaging with the game ‘perfectly’, the base experience is anything but disappointing. Hellblade’s engaging narrative quickly takes over, and Senua’s masterful motion capture is delightful to see in VR, as you come face-to-face with the warrior bedecked in blue war paint, who transmits some very realistic and intense emotions. Textures here are dumbed down somewhat for the VR version, but it’s plain to see that the in-your-face view of the character really begins to immerse you in her pain, fears, and struggles through the trials of the game. Check out the gameplay video at the bottom to see what I mean.

Traversing Hellblade, solving its many illusory puzzles, and engaging in combat sequences is a fairly fluid experience. Enemies at times spawn behind you, but the beauty of having a 360 view is in choosing where to look and when, so you can naturally keep an eye on baddies as they come. Combat relies on quick dodges, decisive sword slashes and kicks, and the use of ‘focus’, which activates a slow-mo mode that can both make shadow monsters vulnerable to attack and allow you more time to tear through multiple enemies. Boss battles are, for the lack of a better word, absolutely epic in VR. Should you ever find yourself facing too hard of an adversary though, you can always toggle between easy, medium, hard or ‘auto’ difficulty modes. But watch out; every time you die, an evil rot takes greater hold of your arm, which eventually will lead to your permanent death and a loss of all progress.

Image courtesy Ninja Theory

Puzzles are especially fun (and rightfully unsettling) in VR, as one of the main features of the game includes the ability for the world to morph around you; a staircase that wasn’t previously there snaps into view after you cross the threshold of a magic gate. The first time it happens, you really begin to question your own sanity, but soon the pieces come together and you start to understand how to use your own illusions to further progress (eg: go through a magic gate to reveal a hole in a wall, go through the hole and unlock the door from the inside). The VR implementation is a natural fit, and I would love to see it in more games.

Another core puzzle throughout Hellbade is lining up runes to open otherwise impenetrable doors—some of the “assigning meaning to things” of Senua’s psychosis—and this is handled really well in VR, as you use your gaze to search and align these runes using your perspective. At moments I would need to crane my neck to get the perfect view, as it’s usually a funny-shaped tree, a few well-placed beams of light, or a piece of a building that has to be lined up, but I tend to think this is based on my preferred game setting. I would routinely enable a higher vantage point in the settings so I could get a better view of the scenery without Senua blocking the way.

Image captured by Road to VR

The game also has some experimental VR modes too, which can let you view the world either in ‘tiny mode’, which changes your perspective to see the world as a miniature diorama, or ‘giant mode’, which shrinks you down by about by three quarters to make the world decidedly larger than life. I didn’t really faff about with either, as the 1:1 normal mode was exactly how I wanted to play in the first place. In normal mode, scaling on Senua felt slightly larger than reality, but not so far off that she was in any way freakishly large.

Intense Themes, Mostly Comfortable Gameplay

Because the game relies on snap-turning, it’s ultimately pretty comfortable—and that’s despite the game’s forewarning that it’s an ‘intense experience’. There are moments when you smoothly turn into a cinematic mode to face Senua, but these are both conducted slowly and are few and far between, so whatever discomfort you may feel from this artificial locomotion will likely fade in a few seconds. Smooth turning is only available in ‘focus’ mode, which lets you look around for runes and other artifacts.

Since this is originally a PC/console title, the game includes many cutscenes to tell the story, which are refreshingly well handled. Instead of carelessly tossing your POV to fit the narrative, which can cause extreme discomfort, the world zooms out to a black void where you’re given a viewing window to help keep you grounded as things shake up. Had this not been a third-person game, I would say the cutscenes would be an overall a detriment to VR immersion, but somehow the whole narrative of Senua battling herself and her illusions makes this okay. Psychosis can make a person see the world in a different way, and provide out-of-body experiences, so it’s really a fortuitous match-up that I really enjoyed being a part of.

After playing the entire game in VR, which lasted around 7+ hours, I was left sobered and sympathetic to Senua’s plight. She fights for love, but carries her hate with her, something you witness at length throughout the game. I couldn’t help but feel a real connection with her, even though I wasn’t really apart of the story as such. At times she’ll look you in the eye, following the position of your head as you get closer to her. She’s distrustful of you, as you’re sometimes construed as just another illusory companion on her fatalistic journey.

In the end, Ninja Theory may have served up something of a gamepad throwback, which really hasn’t been on the menu since all major PC VR systems now have purpose-built motion control support, but there’s an undeniable charm to the game that will definitely keep you playing. As a high quality offering, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does enough VR-specific refining to take it out the caste of ‘shoehorned VR ports’; it gives you just enough of the AAA game, which seems to have grasped VR well enough to make it worth your time if you aren’t scared away by the caveats mentioned above. More importantly, it serves as a lesson to other developers that good-looking traditional PC games can, and do work in VR.

Check out a full 14 minute gameplay session below to get a better idea of what Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – VR Edition has to offer.

The post First Look at ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice’ VR Edition appeared first on Road to VR.

14 Minutes of ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR’ Gameplay

Ninja Theory’s BAFTA award-winning action-adventure game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (2017) is coming to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive soon. Here’s 14 minutes of gameplay, taken after the game’s initial intro.

Update (July 31st, 2018): Helblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR Edition is now available as a free update via both Steam and GOG versions of the game.

The original article follows below.

Original Article (July 25th, 2018): The task at hand: battle the god’s of the Norse mythological realm Helheim, and overcome Celtic warrior Senua’s inner-struggles along the way.

Easily delivering more than seven hours of gameplay, Hellblade offers a new immersive look at the already rich world, which is teeming with demons and gods ripped from the few surviving texts detailing the Norse mythology. Like the PC/console game, it’s played in the third-person.

First Look at 'Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice’ VR Edition

The game does have a few caveats, as you’ll notice in the gameplay video. Some textures pop, and geometry isn’t as solid as the PC version, although these are mostly minor complaints to what’s overall an impressive, and high quality VR implementation. You’ll also need a fairly beefy setup to run it though – at least an Intel i5 3570K or AMD FX-8350, 8 GB RAM, and either a NVIDIA GTX 1080 or AMD Radeon RX 580.

The VR edition is a free update to the Steam version of the PC game, and releases July 31st.

If you’re ready for an in-depth look at the upcoming VR edition, make sure to read our exclusive first look here, which covers everything from combat to comfort.

The post 14 Minutes of ‘Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice VR’ Gameplay appeared first on Road to VR.

Ninja Theory Co-Founder Confident in the Future of VR

Ninja Theory have been around as an independent studio since 2003, responsible for titles such as Heavenly Sword and the Devil May Cry reboot DmC: Devil May Cry. Though the company has yet to release a virtual reality (VR) title, that may be on the cards judging by remarks from co-founder and Creative Director Tameem Antoniades.

Speaking to WCCFTech about Ninja Theory’s latest title, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Antoniades said that the studio was planning on: “A healthy mix of established IP and new IP is where we want to be. Could Hellblade turn into a franchise? Never say never. I hope it’s a success so that we can at least have that choice to make.”

Ninja Theory were responsible for creating the recently discontinued Disney Infinity 3.0, so its possible that the studio could continue its relationship with Disney in the future.

Hellblade Senua's Sacrifice

Is it possible that some of those upcoming titles will be VR? Antoniades seemed enthusiastic about the possibility: “VR is something we’ve been experimenting with and we’ve been using Hellblade as a testing ground. We released a VR scene from Hellblade online last year on YouTube and on the Oculus store. VR is most certainly going to be the dominant form of gaming. It’s just hard to see right now due to the bulky headsets, power and battery requirements. Every criticism against VR right now will be smashed by the time we get to 3rd generation headsets.”

Though Ninja Theory are yet to announce what other projects they have planned for the future, it seems reasonable to assume that at least one of them will be a VR project. It might even be possible to see Ninja Theory leverage its Disney connection to get Disney characters into VR, considering Disney’s known enthusiasm for new visual mediums.

VRFocus will continue to report on new developments within the VR industry.