Why ‘Embodiment’ is More Important Than ‘Immersion’ – Inside XR Design

Our series Inside XR Design examines specific examples of great XR design. Today we’re looking at the game Synapse and exploring the concept of embodiment and what makes it important to VR games.

Editor’s Note: Now that we’ve rebooted our Inside XR Design series, we’re re-publishing them for those that missed our older entries.

You can find the complete video below, or continue reading for an adapted text version.

Defining Embodiment

Welcome back to another episode of Inside XR design. Today I’m going to talk about Synapse (2023), a PSVR 2 exclusive game from developer nDreams. But specifically we’re gonna to look at the game through the lens of a concept called embodiment.

So what the hell is embodiment and why am I boring you talking about it rather than just talking about all the cool shooting, and explosions, and smart design in the game? Well, it’s going to help us understand why certain design decisions in Synapse are so effective. So stick with me here for just a minute.

Embodiment is a term I use to describe the feeling of being physically present within a VR experience. Like you’re actually standing there in the world that’s around you.

And now your reasonable response is, “but don’t we already use the word immersion for that?”

Well colloquially people certainly do, but I want to make an important distinction between ‘immersion’ and ‘embodiment’.

‘Immersion’, for the purposes of our discussion, is when something has your complete attention. We all agree that a movie can be immersive, right? When the story or action is so engrossing it’s almost like nothing outside of the theater even exists at that moment. But has even the most immersive movie you’ve ever seen made you think you were physically inside the movie? Certainly not.

And that’s where ’embodiment’ comes in. For the sake of specificity, I’m defining immersion as being about attention. On the other hand, embodiment is about your sense of physical presence and how it relates to the world around you.

So I think it’s important to recognize that all VR games get immersion for free. By literally taking over your vision and hearing, for the most part they automatically have your full attention. You are immersed the second you put on a headset.

But some VR games manage to push us one step further. They don’t just have our attention, they make us feel like our whole body has been transported into the virtual world. Like you’d actually feel things in the game if you reached out and touched them.

Ok, so immersion is attention and embodiment is the feeling of actually being there.

And to be clear, embodiment isn’t a binary thing. It’s a spectrum. Some VR games are slightly embodying, while others are very embodying. But what makes the difference?

That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about with Synapse.

Cover You Can Feel

At first glance, Synapse might look like a pretty common VR shooter, but there are several really intentional design decisions that drive a strong sense of embodiment. The first thing I want to talk about is the cover system.

Every VR shooter has cover. You can walk behind a wall and it will block shots for you. But beyond that, the wall doesn’t really physically relate to your actual body because you never actively engage with it. It’s just a stationary object.

But Synapse makes walls and other cover interactive by letting you grab it with your hand and pull your body in and out of cover. This feels really natural and works great for the gameplay.

And because you’re physically moving yourself in relation to the wall—instead of just strafing back and forth with a thumbstick—the wall starts to feel more real. Specifically, it feels more real because when you grab the wall and use it as an anchor from which to move, it’s subconsciously becoming part of your proprioceptive model.

Understanding Proprioception

Let’s take a second here to explain proprioception because it’s a term that comes up a lot when we’re talking about tricking our bodies into thinking we’re somewhere else.

The clearest example I’ve ever seen of proprioception in action is this clip. And listen, I never thought I’d be showing you a cat clip in this series, but here we are. Watch closely as the cat approaches the table… without really thinking about it, it effortlessly moves its ear out of the way just at the right time.

This is proprioception at work. It’s your body’s model of where it is in relation to the things around you. In order for the cat to know exactly when and where to move its ear to avoid the table without even looking at it, it has to have some innate sense of the space its ear occupies and how that relates to the space the table occupies.

In the case of the cover system in Synapse, you intuitively understand that ‘when I grab this wall and move my hand to the right, my body will move to the left’.

So rather than just being a ‘thing that you see’ walls become something more than that. They become relevant to you in a more meaningful way, because you can directly engage with them to influence the position of your body. In doing so, your mind starts to pay more attention to where the walls are in relation to your body. They start to feel more real. And by extension, your own body starts to feel more present in the simulation… you feel more ‘embodied’.

Mags Out

And walls in Synapse can actually be used for more than cover. You can also use them to push magazines into your weapon.

Backing away from embodiment for just a second—this is such a cool design detail. In Inside XR Design #4 I spent a long time talking about the realistic weapon model in Half-Life: Alyx (2020). But Synapse is a run-and-gun game so the developers took a totally different approach and landed on a reloading system that’s fast paced but still engaging.

Instead of making players mess with inventory and chambering, the magazines in this game just pop out and float there. To reload, just slide them back into the weapon. It might seem silly, but it works in the game’s sci-fi context and reduces reloading complexity while maintaining much of the fun and game flow that comes with it.

And now we can see how this pairs so beautifully with the cover game’s cover system.

The game’s cover system takes one of your hands to use. So how can you reload? Pushing your magazine against the wall to reload your gun is the perfect solution to allow players to use both systems at the same time.

But guess what? This isn’t just a really clever design, it’s yet another way that you can engage with the wall—as if it’s actually there in front of you. You need to know if your arm is close enough to the wall if you’re going to use it to reload. So again, your brain starts to incorporate walls and their proximity into your proprioceptive model. You start to truly sense the space between your body and the wall.

So both of these things—being able to use walls to pull yourself in and out of cover, and being able to use walls to push a magazine into your gun—make walls feel more real because you interact with them up close and in a meaningful way.

And here’s the thing. When the world around you starts to feel more real, you start to feel more convinced that you’re actually standing inside of it. That’s embodiment. And let’s remember: virtual worlds are always ‘immersive’ because they necessarily have our full attention. But embodiment goes beyond what we see—it’s about what we feel.

And when it comes to reaching out and touching the world… Synapse takes things to a whole new level with its incredible telekinesis system.

Continue on Page 2: Extend Your Reach »

The post Why ‘Embodiment’ is More Important Than ‘Immersion’ – Inside XR Design appeared first on Road to VR.

‘Synapse’ Review – A Power I’ve Been Waiting For

Synapse is the latest action game from veteran VR studio nDreams, built exclusively for PSVR 2. While you’ll do plenty of shooting, players are also equipped with a telekinetic superpower that feels great as a core mechanic. But does the rest of the game live up to it? Read on to find out.

Synapse Details:

Available On: PSVR 2 (exclusive)
Release Date: July 4th, 2023
Price: $35
Developer: nDreams


Editor’s Note: Gameplay clips will not appear with cookies disabled, but you can click the

Synapse is a roguelite shooter where you’ll be blasting baddies with a weapon in one hand and controlling a telekinetic force power with the other. The game’s telekinesis ability is finely tuned, relying on PSVR 2’s eye-tracking to target whichever item you’re looking at. Look at a box and pull the trigger and suddenly you’re controlling its movements from afar. Look at an exploding barrel and pull the trigger and now you can toss it over to some enemies before pulling the trigger even harder to make it explode. Oh, and when you eventually get the ability to pick up enemies with your power, you’ll really enjoy launching them into the sky or send them crashing into the ground.

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Over many years I’ve wondered why we haven’t seen a major VR game built around a ‘gravity gun’ like mechanic. It seems so natural to want to interact with virtual worlds using interesting physics mechanics rather than just shooting.

Well Synapse definitely proves out the mechanic with a strong core implementation that feels a little bit like magic thanks to the eye-tracking targeting which generally works well (just don’t forget to recalibrate your eye-tracking). It’s undeniably fun to look at an enemy, pick them up, and send them flying to a timely demise.

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I also enjoyed the use of a two-stage trigger when it comes to manipulating explosive barrels—a light trigger pull lets you lift the barrel, while a full trigger pull makes it explode. It feels very intuitive while at the same time challenging you to think more carefully in the heat of battle about which object you’re controlling. It can feel effortless to see a barrel on the other side of the room, pick it up, then quickly hover it over to a group of enemies before crushing it to blow them away.

While I was hoping that there would be an increasing number of ways to interact with the environment using telekinesis, there’s little evolution on that front. You can control boxes, barrels, platforms, and (with later unlocks) enemies and grenades. But that’s about it. While the core mechanic feels great, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t evolve into something more.

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In your other hand you’ll start with a pistol which is about as standard as you’d expect, though nDreams adapted the great reloading system from Fracked to give Synapse an even quicker and easier reloading system that works great for the game’s combat pace.

When you’re out of ammo the mag will eject just a few inches out of the gun and then stay there. To reload all you have to do is push it back into the gun. It sounds a little silly, but makes sense in the context of the game’s mind-bending subject matter. And another nice detail (which I can’t recall if the game even explicitly teaches you) is that your hand doesn’t need to be the thing that pushes the mag back into your weapon to reload… you can shove your gun against a wall or a rock to slide it back in too—a clever way to allow for an improvised one-handed reload.

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Reloading by pushing your mag against a wall works especially well considering the game’s hand-based cover system (also carried over from Fracked), which allows you to reach out to grab any cover and then use your hand to peek yourself in and out of said cover. It feels really natural and way more immersive than using the thumbstick to slide in and out of cover while crouched behind a wall.

As a roguelite there’s also unlocks to earn; some are temporary buffs that only last for your current run, while others are permanent and will make you better and stronger over time.

Everything I’ve said about the game so far is pretty positive, and warranted. But the game follows a strangely familiar pattern of flaws.

The thing about Synapse is that while the core mechanics (like telekinesis, reloading, and cover) work well, the rest of the game is a largely average wave shooter in the form of a roguelite. Quite unfortunately, many of the same core critiques of Synapse were equally true of nDreams’ last two big games: Fracked (2021) and Phantom: Covert Ops (2020).

It is a classic prognosis for the studio’s big action games at this point—not enough weapon, enemy, and encounter variety to really make the game sing.

For one, the game’s ‘levels’ feel completely homogenous. Combat isn’t meaningfully different from one to the next, which means every level feels essentially the same. Some destructible elements mix things up just a bit, but not enough to make levels feel dynamic and interesting.

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And then there’s the mere four enemies: regular soldier dudes, kamikazes, hefty bois™, and one rather annoying flying enemy.

Some of the AI is actually pretty good. Soldier dudes will move around, use cover, flank you, and throw some suspiciously accurate grenades at your feet. Hefty bois will keep you pinned down behind cover, throw objects at you, and charge at you.

Image courtesy nDreams

On the other hand, the exploding kamikaze enemies feel consistently more unfair than anything, considering they usually explode at your feet even after you killed them, thanks to momentum carrying their corpses right into you.

And then there’s the flying enemies which are much more of a nuisance than an interesting threat… and animate so poorly (making them difficult to hit) that I’m not sure if they’re bugged or not.

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Luckily my hatred for them made it that much more satisfying when I realized I could use my telekinesis to drop them into searing hot lava for an instant death.

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Minimal enemy variety is backed by a lack of encounter and scenario variety. Every level is beaten by killing all enemies on the map; they all seem to spawn fairly randomly and tend to come from all sides, making it feel like a wave shooter most of the time. Not only does the level’s objective never vary, but there’s a real lack of meaningful encounter design, making most fights feel the same.

That’s not to say that Synapse isn’t fun. I enjoyed my first full run through the game, which took about three hours to complete. But from then on out the game asks you to continue doing the same things against the same enemies with the same weapon and abilities—but now at a harder difficulty.

That’s usually how roguelites go, but there just isn’t enough variety in the gameplay or build options in Synapse to reach that engaging feeling of ‘just one more run’ after you’ve completed your first. Even the promise of unlocking more narrative through during subsequent runs isn’t enough considering the narrative is a paper-thin radio drama. nDreams says players can expect to take around 12 hours to complete three runs, each at increasing difficulty, which will reveal all of the narrative. But I have to say that I wasn’t compelled to complete all three. All-in, I probably spent about five hours with the game before feeling like I’d seen it all.


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Synapse has a really unique art style that I think they executed very well. The game runs well and generally sounds good too.

There’s no doubt the telekinesis is a more interesting and immersive way to interact with the game than shooting enemies at a distance. Being able to grip enemies with an invisible force, then toss them toward you while firing a flurry of bullets at them mid-air gives a strong feeling of direct control over the game’s virtual world, which helps anchor you to it.

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Similarly, using your hand to pull yourself in and out of cover, then slapping your mag against a rock to load it into your gun, feel very ‘hands-on’.

Image courtesy nDreams

Aside from these elements, most of the game is fairly run-and-gun and there’s almost no other up-close interactions (which are the kind that tend to drive high levels of immersion). While the setting is neat (battling inside of someone’s brain, à la Inception), the story had zero intrigue, and served only as a rough premise for the action that unfolds in the game.


Synapse is a run-and-gun game that doesn’t offer teleport. Aside from that, the essential comfort options are available, though I’m irked by the game’s implementation of snap turning, which is actually just a quick turn rather than a true snap turn (which tends to be more comfortable); Fracked had the very same issue.

Without teleport and with the expected pace of combat, Fracked might be a challenge for anyone that’s very sensitive to motion in VR, but otherwise feels largely average for comfort in a VR shooter.

One miscellaneous item worth noting here is that the game’s pistol tends to consistently shoot up and to one side, seemingly due to a lack of filtering on the weapon’s movement and the particular way the PSVR 2 controller tends to move in your hand when pulling the trigger in its ‘stiff’ state. This makes the pistol much less accurate than it seems it’s supposed to be.

Synapse’ Comfort Settings – June 28th, 2023

Artificial turning ✔
Snap-turn ✖
Quick-turn ✔
Smooth-turn ✔
Artificial movement ✔
Teleport-move ✖
Dash-move ✖
Smooth-move ✔
Blinders ✔
Head-based ✔
Controller-based ✔
Swappable movement hand ✖
Standing mode ✔
Seated mode ✔
Artificial crouch ✔
Real crouch ✔
Subtitles ✔
Languages English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Brazilian
Dialogue audio ✔
Languages English
Adjustable difficulty ✔
Two hands required ✔
Real crouch required ✖
Hearing required ✖
Adjustable player height ✔

‘Ghostbusters VR’ Co-op Game Coming to Quest 2 & PSVR 2 Next Month, New Gameplay Trailer Here

During PlayStation’s State of Play event developer nDreams announced that the long-awaited ghostbusting VR game, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord, is set to launch October 26th.

Update (September 15th, 2023): nDreams and publisher Sony Virtual Reality announced Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord finally has a street date: October 26th, 2023.

The game is priced at $55. Pre-ordering on Quest or PSVR 2 gets you the ‘FULL CONTAINMENT EDITION’, which features the full game plus six months of upcoming DLC and bonus content, the studio says. The original article follows below:

Original Article (June 1st, 2023): nDreams, also known for Fracked (2021)Phantom: Covert Ops (2020), and upcoming PSVR 2 exclusive Synapse, also released a new trailer featuring a few snippets of gameplay, showing off some of the game’s four-player co-op in action.

In it, we see some a bunch of the franchise’s iconic stuff, such as proton packs, ghost traps, P.K.E. meters, and even the Ecto-1.

If you’re just hearing about Ghostbusters’ first at-home VR title, here’s how the studio describes it:

Strap on your proton pack and step into the world of Ghostbusters in immersive virtual reality. Run your Ghostbusters HQ in a new city, San Francisco, and unravel a rich mystery in a new chapter for the Ghostbusters universe. Wield iconic equipment as you track, blast, and trap ghosts in gripping encounters across an extensive and engrossing campaign. Go it alone, or as a team with up to three friends in co-op to defeat a ghastly new threat – the Ghost Lord. Continue the Ghostbusters’ legacy, protect the city from fiendish ghosts, and experience all the humor and frights from the beloved franchise.

Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord is set to launch on Quest 2 and PSVR 2 at some point this fall (see update). Notably, the game’s first trailer was captured on PC, so it’s possible we may also see a release on SteamVR as well, although nDreams hasn’t confirmed as much.

In the meantime, you can wishlist the game on PSVR 2 here and Quest 2 here.

One of VR’s Most Veteran Studios Has Gown to 200 Employees While Continuing to Double-down on VR

Having been exclusively building VR games since 2013, nDreams stands as one of the most veteran VR-exclusive game studios to date. And with more than 200 people, one of the largest too. The studio’s CEO & founder, Patrick O’Luanaigh, continues to bet his company’s future on the success of VR.

Speaking exclusively to Road to VR ahead of a presentation at GDC 2023, Patrick O’Luanaigh talks about the growing success of nDreams and why he’s still doubling down on VR.

Starting in 2013, O’Luanaigh has navigated his company from the earliest days of the modern VR era to now, which he believes is VR’s biggest moment so far—and growing.

Between the company’s own internal data and some external sources, O’Luanaigh estimates that VR’s install base is around 40 million headsets across the major platforms, excluding the recently launched PSVR 2. At least half of that, he estimates, is made up by 20 million Quest headsets.

While it’s been a challenge to keep all those headsets in regular use, O’Luanaigh says the size of the addressable VR market today is bigger than ever.

That’s why he’s bulked up the company to some 200 employees, nearly doubling over the course of 2022 through hiring and studio acquisitions.

O’Luanaigh says, “this is the biggest we’ve ever been and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. […] In a decade of exclusively making VR games, we’ve never seen that growth before.”

O’Luanaigh knows well that content is key for getting players into their headsets, and to that end his efforts to scale the company are about building bigger and better VR content to keep up with the growth and expectations of the install base, he says.

“Setting up our fully-remote nDreams studios, Orbital and Elevation, was significant for us in establishing a powerful basis for developing multiple projects in parallel,” he says. “It gives us the specialism to develop the variety of VR titles, across multiple genres, that the growing market now demands.”

O’Luanaigh points to nDreams developed and published titles Phantom: Covert Ops (2020), Shooty Fruity (2020), Fracked (2021), and Little Cities (2022) as some of the most successful VR games the studio has launched thus far, with Phantom: Covert Ops specifically finding “important commercial success” on Quest 2.

With the release of those titles over the years and their ongoing sales, O’Luanaigh shares that nDreams doubled its year-over-year revenue over the last 12 months. And with multiple new projects in the works, including Synapse, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord, and other (unannounced) projects, he believes the company is on track to more than double annual revenue again by 2024.

Phantom: Covert Ops | Image courtesy nDreams

Though he’s leading a company of 200 employees, O’Luanaigh calls himself a “massive VR enthusiast,” and is still very clearly in touch with makes VR such a unique and compelling medium.

He says his studio aims to build around five key pillars that make for compelling VR content:

  1. Aspirational roleplay – first-person embodiment of appealing roles or characters
  2. High-agency interaction – tactile 1:1 mechanics in a freely explorable world
  3. Empowering wielding – Feel, hold, and use visceral weapons, tools, and abilities
  4. Emotional amplification – Immersive situations that provoke strong, diverse feelings
  5. Fictional teleportation – Presence within desirable locations, inaccessible in real life

And while O’Luanaigh could easily steer this studio away from VR—to chase a larger non-VR market—he continues to double down on VR as the studio’s unique advantage. Far from moving away from VR, his company is actively trying to bring others into the fold; O’Luanaigh says nDreams continues to expand its publishing operations.

“The success of Little Cities, which has just launched its free ‘Little Citizens’ update, has been a great validation of our investments into third-party publishing and we are actively on the lookout for more amazing indie developers to work with.”

With the scale that VR has now reached, O’Luanaigh believes the market is truly viable for indie developers. And that’s why he’s glad to see the rise of VR publishers (and not just his own company); having the benefit of longstanding expertise in the medium is crucial to shipping a shipping a quality VR title, and that’s why O’Luanaigh believes VR-specific publishers like nDreams will play an important role in bringing more developers and great content to VR.


That expertise is increasingly building upon itself in the company’s VR games which have shown impressive mechanical exploration, giving the studio the chance to test lots of VR gameplay to find out what works.

Few in VR have had the gall to prove out something as seemingly wacky as a ‘VR kayak shooter’ and actually take it to market in a large scale production like Phantom: Covert Ops. And you can clearly see the lineage of a game like nDreams’ Fracked shining through in upcoming titles like Synapse. Though the game is an entirely new IP and visual direction, the unique Fracked cover system is making the leap to Synapse; a clear example of leveraging a now battle-tested mechanic to enhance future titles. But more than just a reskin of a prior shooter, nDreams continues to experiment with unique VR mechanics, this time promising to harness the power of PSVR 2’s eye-tracking to give players compelling telekinetic powers.

Synapse | Image courtesy nDreams

To that end, the studio’s lengthy experience in the medium is clearly an asset—and one that can only be earned rather than bought. Where exactly that experience will take them in the long run is unclear, but even after all the ups and downs the industry has seen, O’Luanaigh and nDreams remain all-in on VR.

Telekinetic Shooter ‘Synapse’ Coming to PSVR 2 in July, New Gameplay Trailer Here

During PlayStation’s gaming showcase nDreams announced that Synapse, its upcoming action shooter, is set to launch July 4th on PSVR 2.

Update (May 25th, 2023): nDreams, the studio behind Fracked (2021) and Phantom: Covert Ops (2020), revealed some fresh gameplay of Synapse, showing off more of what feels like an evolved version of Fracked’s run-and-cover gameplay. Yup, it’s using eye-tracking too, which drives the game’s telekinetic powers.

In a PS blogpost, we learned more about Synapse, which is set to launch exclusively on PSVR 2 on July 4th. Synapse is set in the mindscape of a rogue Colonel, who can conjure deadly defenses to keep you from stopping his launch of a biological weapon in the real world.

The original article announcing Synapse follows below:

Original Article (February 28th, 2023): There’s still a lot to learn about Synapse, although nDreams says in its PS blogpost announcement that Fracked made a “perfect foundation to build upon with Synapse,” as the upcoming shooter looks to evolves the former’s core gameplay.

As a PSVR 2 exclusive, Synapse however is also slated to use Sense controllers in concert with the headset’s eye-tracking capabilities, something the studio head James Shepard says provides “enhanced aiming which equips players with pinpoint precision when targeting their telekinesis and combines with motion controls to make wielding telekinetic powers a full-body experience.”

In the teaser trailer we get a good look at a few mechanics too; you’ll be able to launch, levitate, and smash enemies through destructible environments.

The fast-paced run and gun style gameplay along with telekinetically moveable cover also shows just how related nDream’s upcoming shooter is to Fracked.

There’s no launch date yet (see update), however nDreams says it’s coming exclusively to PSVR 2 later this year. In the meantime, you can wishlist the game here.

Synapse Dual-Wielding Shooter Coming To PSVR 2

One of VR’s most experienced development studios, nDreams, revealed its upcoming shooter Synapse for PSVR 2.

Coming 2023, the game will arm players with both telekinetic powers and weaponry that “evolves Fracked’s acclaimed run and gun gameplay” with “Motion-controlled, 1:1 telekinesis with eye-tracking-enhanced aiming that equips players with the power to launch, levitate and smash enemies through
destructible environments”, according to nDreams. “Players harness this lethal combination as they master their own combat style to fight their way through a hostile mindscape.”

Synapse is available to wishlist now on the PlayStation Store. You can check out the striking announcement trailer embedded below showcasing how gameplay will play out:

nDreams is the development studio behind Phantom: Covert Ops and Fracked and they’re also the publishers of games like Little Cities. The studio is also working on Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord.

We’ve got a full list of all the PlayStation VR2 launch window games with Journey To Foundation and Synapse beginning to showcase Sony’s PSVR 2 post-launch lineup.

‘Ghostbusters VR’ Releasing on PSVR 2, Out-of-home Games Coming to Hologate VR Arcades

Commemorating the release of the original Ghostbusters (1984) film, Sony Pictures Virtual Reality (SPVR) today announced a pair of out-of-home VR games collectively called Ghostbusters VR Academy, coming to HOLOGATE locations worldwide. Sony also announced its previously revealed Ghostbusters VR at-home game is coming to PSVR 2 in addition to Quest 2.

Ghostbusters VR Academy—built by Hologate and published by SPVR—is rolling out to 400+ of the company’s locations worldwide by the end of 2022, the companies say. Hologate has designed out-of-home Ghostbusters games for both its free-roaming ARENA shooter platform and BLITZ, its motion simulator platform.

In the ARENA game, Hologate visitors will engage in Ghostbusters training by strapping on a proton pack and cooperating as a team in what the company calls “high-risk ghost encounter scenarios – all under the safeguard of academy grounds.”

Image courtesy Hologate, Sony Pictures Virtual Reality

The BLITZ game is a bit more of a thrill ride, where visitors race each other around in a prototype ECTO vehicle. Hologate’s motion platforms can perform up to one meter (3.2 feet) of vertical lift and a 30-degree movement in every direction.

Ghostbusters VR, a four-player cooperative adventure VR game initially announced for Quest 2, is also headed to PlayStation VR2. There’s no release date for PSVR 2 just yet, so we aren’t sure when the game is scheduled to arrive.

First unveiled at the Meta Gaming Showcase in April, Ghostbusters VR is a four-player co-op game developed by veteran VR studio nDreams. In it, players solve mysteries in the Ghostbusters universe while tracking, blasting, and trapping ghosts across what the studio calls an “extensive and engrossing campaign.”

Check out the announcement trailer below:

The post ‘Ghostbusters VR’ Releasing on PSVR 2, Out-of-home Games Coming to Hologate VR Arcades appeared first on Road to VR.

Review: Little Cities

After a couple of previews, it’s finally time to give our verdict on what was almost going to be the first proper city building game on Meta Quest 2, Little Cities. However, low and behold it never rains but it pours, bizarrely seeing two arrive within weeks of each other, the other being Cities: VR. Yet in another strange twist, both videogames sit at opposite ends of the genre, with Little Cities providing a far less stressful, almost therapeutic experience for those that want to build without all the finicky financials.

Little Cities

The first virtual reality (VR) title from British indie team Purple Yonder with publishing help from VR veterans, nDreams, Little Cities is just that, build your own miniature metropolis. Rather than a plain expanse of land with a few environmental features all of Little Cities’ locations are sun-drenched archipelagos, so you’ll inevitably have at least one major island to build upon, with smaller islands to expand to.   

Whilst you don’t get much choice, to begin with, the aim with each location is to reach level 25, unlocking new areas in the process. Before that, it’s time to get building, with Little Cities featuring one of the easiest and most accessible buildings menus you’ll have seen in a game like this. All the details required for planning, how much money you have, is there enough water/electricity, are the residents happy are found by looking at your watch which is bright, bold, easy to read and minimal.

Almost like a Swedish furniture store, keeping things minimal is certainly at the heart of Little Cities so while those stats are informative there’s no in-depth tweaking. Die-hard construction simulator fans may even be a little aghast at the fact you can’t play around with finances, raising or lowing taxes, diverting funds to build something more practical or taking out loans to create an absurd monstrosity. None of that here in Little Cities. Think of it more like a quaint English village on a Sunday, there’s one pace and that’s with your feet up on the sofa.

Little Cities

Construction wise everything is housed in bubbles, press one to open the utility options to find your water, cell, and wind turbine towers. Or open up the services bubble which houses the police station, fire department and so on. The menu can be swapped between your left and right and in the options menu if you need to.

Like any city builder, roads are your first step with placement in Little Cities a doddle. These are all placed in straight lines – no bendy roads here – so cities always do end up in a similar grid structure. This is also necessary due to the fact that certain buildings like the fire station have a set service area, necessitating a central location for maximum coverage. After that, there are three main districts to build, Residential, Commercial and Industrial. Residents need places to live, places to work and places to spend money, balancing all three creates a booming economy so you can spend even more frivolously. You can’t build homes next to factories as residents will become unhappy and that’ll hit your wallet.  

In practice, if you follow Little Cities building suggestions – i.e.when there aren’t enough houses – then you’ll almost never run into an issue. The game balances things so well (almost too well) to maintain its calm, tranquil settings that even as a volcano in the middle erupts, spewing lava and molten fireballs at your city you’ll not be bothered, shrugging it off and replacing whatever’s destroyed.

Little Cities

Little Cities mixes up the gameplay via a selection of environments and region-specific buildings. As mentioned, one area has a giant volcano to build around, not only causing occasional havoc but also blocking network signals and other amenities. Or then there’s the desert location filled with sandstorms that can only be controlled through the planting of trees. As for the buildings, some areas will let you build a theme park or a stadium or a campsite, each having its own bonuses to adjacent buildings.

The problem is once these are built and you’ve hit level 25 to unlock everything you can’t do anything else. You have no option to build a whole row of airports just for the fun of it or see how happy you can make residents building 20 theme parks at once. The only option is to start a new map and see what new buildings there might be; Little Cities really could have done with a sandbox mode of some sort.  

Even with that in mind, Little Cities is hard to get annoyed with, each map delightfully engrossing from start to finish. Sure, it does start to grate a little when in the middle of building a new housing complex you level up, instantly stopping you from doing anything until you look at your watch and accept the notification – which happens 25 times per level, of course. But on the flip side, bringing the camera down to street level to see the bustling city is always satisfying.

Little Cities

And because Little Cities has been built for Meta Quest, there are no building pop-ups or graphical glitches that were noticeable. It’s definitely not as visually complex as Cities: VR and it doesn’t need to be. There are nice little visual and audible touches here and there, you’ll hear seagulls squawking or a small plane flying across your eye line.

To describe Little Cities in one word it would have to be ‘pleasant’. Much like an afternoon game of Wordle, it’s the sort of VR experience you want to sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy. There’s no friction to the gameplay, accessible and intuitive in minutes, which makes it great for those new to VR. What it lacks is additional depth and flexibility, not complexity. I don’t want to balance budgets or get into horrendous city planning fundamentals, what I would like is to build my own floating city that’s entirely populated with wind farms and Yurt Villages. Until then, Little Cities provides a straightforward slice of utopian city creation.

10 Minute ‘Little Cities’ Video Shows VR City Builder in Action, Post-launch Roadmap Revealed

Little Cities, the upcoming city simulator for the Quest platform, is delayed until May 12th. Despite a pushback on launch plans, the team has released a 10-minute gameplay video and post-launch roadmap to get prospective city-builders excited.

Little Cities is fundamentally ready to ship, although release has been a bit of a sticky wicket. Late April was set to the be the month of dueling VR city games, with Little Cities previously scheduled to come out just one week before Cities: VR, the official VR adaptation of Cities: Skylines. That’s until the team decided to take some breathing room and not launch within a week of one arguably its biggest rival.

In the meantime, the team released a post-launch roadmap today that details two future updates: a hand-tracking update in June that will let you ditch the controllers and go hands-on with building, called ‘Big Hands in Little Cities’, and an update in July called ‘Pretty Little Cities’ which will include a new range of buildings and cosmetic items. The team also promises “so much more to come” after those updates.

Created by indie team Purple Yonder and published by VR veterans nDreams, Little Cities is more of a casual city-building experience which abstracts away some of the more fiddly bits of the genre, like having to independently lay down powerlines, watermains, control the flow of traffic. plan bus routes, etc.

You can take a look at the action below, something we also describe in our hands-on from earlier in the month.

The post 10 Minute ‘Little Cities’ Video Shows VR City Builder in Action, Post-launch Roadmap Revealed appeared first on Road to VR.

Ghostbusters VR Focused On Quest 2 ‘At Launch’

The just-announced Ghostbusters VR game is indeed a launch exclusive for Quest 2, but other platforms may arrive later on.

Following the game’s reveal at the Meta Quest Gaming Showcase yesterday we reached out to developer nDreams to ask if the game would only be coming to Quest 2. “We’re focusing on Meta Quest 2 at launch,” the studio told us, “but we will share more information on the availability of the game on other platforms at a later date.”

It’s perhaps a little unexpected to see Ghostbusters VR coming first to Quest 2 given that the IP is owned by Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of Sony Pictures. The game’s also being published by Sony Pictures Virtual Reality. Though this division doesn’t fall under the operations of Sony Interactive Entertainment, which runs PlayStation and the PSVR headset, one might have assumed the close links would make a PSVR release a priority.

That said Sony Pictures VR has released games for all headsets in the past, so we equally wouldn’t have expected the game to be a PSVR exclusive.

Either way, it still seems possible that we’ll see the game on PSVR and/or PSVR 2 at some point. For now, we know that Ghostbusters VR will offer a full campaign with both solo and cooperative support for up to four players. You’ll team up with friends to build a new Ghostbusters HQ in San Francisco, using iconic gadgets to hunt supernatural spirits.

For more on the games announced during yesterday’s showcase, check out our extensive wrap-up report.