Paradox Interactive hosted a stream on Twitch last week celebrating seven years of Cities: Skylines, along with new information and gameplay footage of the upcoming VR spin-off, Cities VR.
Creative Director Creative Director Erik Odeldahl spoke to Paradox about what to expect with Cities VR, as well as the differences between Skylines and the new VR version, before jumping into some gameplay live on stream.
You can watch the stream VOD here — the Cities VR discussion starts at around the 52 minute mark, and gameplay starts around 1 hour and 9 minutes.
This is the most in-depth look we’ve got so far at how the city management game will transfer across to VR. Notably, you can see how tool selection will work in Cities VR — you’ve got access to the same suite of options from Skylines, but spread across a wheel-like option selector on your Touch controller.
You can also see city requirements — like demand for residential vs commercial zones — by turning your left controller to the side, almost like viewing a wrist watch.
There was quite a few interesting tidbits revealed in the pre-gameplay chat as well. Odeldahl consistently reminded viewers (and existing Skylines fans) that Cities VR is not a straight port, but a VR adaptation and ultimately “a different game.”
“You shouldn’t pick up Cities VR and expect it to be a full blown port of Cities: Skylines,” he said. “VR is a different medium, it’s a medium that is very… We basically need to stay on frame rate 100% of the time. The simulation in Skylines is amazing, and also pretty heavy, so we’ve had to basically find what we feel is a good mix between the visual fidelity, the simulation etc.”
The simulation is the same in Cities VR, but it runs on a smaller scale — players will be limited to just one city tile, roughly 2km x 2km in size, so you won’t be able to build giant expansive cities over multiple tiles like you can in Skylines.
Odeldahl was also hesitant to call Cities VR a casual experience on Quest, as it’s a pretty in-depth city builder, but admitted it would be slightly “more casual” for those familiar with Skylines. To help those who are new to the franchise, Fast Travel Games has put a lot of work into the initial tutorial and made sure new players will be able to become familiar and comfortable with the game’s systems.
There’s a full day-night cycle in Cities VR, just like Skylines, and a lot of the same management options and tools are available, just on a smaller city canvas. As you might have guessed, mods (which became a big part of Skylines on PC) will not be supported in Cities VR.
Nine maps will be available at launch — all brand new for Cities VR — and the studio plans to support the game extensively post-launch.
Overall, Reality Labs revenue totaled almost $2.3 billion for Meta in 2021 and marked Reality Labs’ revenue roughly doubling year-on-year. This was bolstered by particularly strong revenue in Q4 2021, due to strong Quest 2 sales in the holiday season. You can read more here.
Apps like Virtual Desktop and Bigscreen have faced situations where Meta (formerly Facebook) made it either difficult or unprofitable for certain aspects of those products to function on Quest. In the case of Virtual Desktop, for example, developer Guy Godin wasn’t allowed to release a PC VR streaming feature for his app through official channels for more than 20 months. When Facebook finally allowed the feature officially it was just a couple months before Facebook launched its own version of PC VR streaming called Air Link. The Bloomberg story reports the FTC “quizzed outside developers that make Oculus apps in recent months as part of the inquiry,” particularly in relation to how the company might discriminate against third-party services or apps that compete with solutions or apps offered by Meta directly.
While we wait for more details on the headset design, pricing and launch window, we thought we’d run through a few Sony-exclusive franchises that we’d love to see make the jump to PSVR 2 during the PS5 generation cycle.
These are all pure speculation — it’s a hypothetical wishlist of what we want to see most! If you want a list of everything confirmed and rumoured game coming to PSVR 2, we have that as well.
Two honorable mentions before we move on — the Uncharted and God of War franchises.
Both of these could be fantastic in VR, but we’re a bit unsure how they would tie it in and what the gameplay would look like. These games lean so heavily on providing players with a third-person cinema-like experience, so the initial gameplay hook to transfer across to VR isn’t as clear.
That being said, Sony are doing something similar with Horizon Call of the Mountain, so maybe it’s not such a stretch to imagine a similar treatment for Uncharted and God of War.
5. Little Big Planet/Sackboy
After a trilogy of original Little Big Planet games and a recent spin-off platformer, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, it would be cool to see the franchise add a VR game to the collection.
Given the Sackboy release on PS5 went a bit under the radar, maybe Sony could update the game with a free and separate PSVR expansion that channels their previous PSVR platformer, Astrobot? It could feature original levels alongside reworked mechanics that take advantage of VR, which would be a nice way to boost the original release while providing something fresh for PSVR 2 owners.
4. Ratchet & Clank
After a stunningly beautiful outing on PS5 with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, it would be awesome to see Insomniac leverage its experience with VR to create some kind of Rift Apart-adjacent experience with PSVR 2 support.
What form would a Ratchet & Clank game take in VR? No idea, but it would be cool to see — especially if you could witness the jaw-dropping graphics from Rift Apart in a VR headset. And we’re sure the developers could cook up plenty of inventive new weapons to wield.
3. Ghost of Tsushima
While this almost falls into a similar category as God of War and Uncharted, Ghost of Tsushima perhaps holds a bit more potential for a great PSVR adaptation.
Imagine a new, made-for-VR Tsushima release that focuses on first-person stealth and light samurai combat, while keeping the absolutely gorgeous and show-stopping art style from the original 2020 release.
It’s possible that developers Sucker Punch are working on a sequel for PS5 already and we know Sony wants to push for its upcoming AAA PS5 experiences to include VR support. If the sequel is similar in style to the first, then it probably wouldn’t lend itself to a Hitman 3 scenario where the entire game supports both traditional and VR modes. However, a separate PSVR-focused mode could be a lot of fun.
Given the Spider-Man fervor across all media in the last few years, it would be pretty surprising if we never saw some kind of Insomniac Spider-Man release for PSVR 2 in the next few years — especially given the studio has worked with VR before.
We know that Spider-Man 2, Insomniac’s PS5-exclusive sequel to the 2018 hit, is in development. However, adding PSVR 2 support to the entire game seems unlikely. Insomniac could instead opt to add a mode (or even a separate, standalone release) that lets you play a short and focused experience as Spidey using PSVR 2, akin to Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham VR.
Even just a definitive, polished minigame that lets you swing around Manhattan as Spider-Man would be fantastic — many others have tried to do something similar, both officially and unofficially.
What Sony franchises do you want to see on PSVR 2? Let us know in the comments.
Looking for a good VR rhythm or music game to play on Quest? Here are our best picks.
One of the most prominent genres in VR is music and rhythm games. It’s a type of game that found success early on in VR with Beat Saber and has since become a staple of the medium.
If you’re looking for the best rhythm games or music titles available for Meta Quest and Quest 2 on the Oculus Store, here are our picks.
Let’s get this one out of the way — what would be a rhythm game list without the unbeatable king of rhythm games, Beat Saber? There’s nothing to say that you probably don’t already know — it’s one of the oldest rhythm games on the platform and the VR game that’s had the most mainstream exposure.
Using a lightsaber in each hand, the aim of the game is to slash on beat and in the right direction, matching the music playing in the background. There’s been a bunch of updates, new content and DLC music packs since release, and that doesn’t look set to stop anytime soon.
Beat Saber is an essential rhythm game on Quest. As you’ll see further down, it’s such a hit that it’s hard not to compare every other VR rhythm game against it.
One of the newer entries on the list, Unplugged uses Quest’s hand tracking technology to bring your air guitar dreams to life. It works like a mashup of Guitar Hero and Tap Tap Revenge — make chord shapes with one hand, as they fall towards the air guitar strings, and strum to the rhythm with the other.
The Quest’s hand tracking technology isn’t perfect and involves a bit of a learning curve to increase the reliability, but it works well enough the vast majority of the time. Unplugged is unbelievably good fun and will probably be around for many years to come.
Imagine if Beat Saber and Superhot had a baby… Well, there’s a lot more to Pistol Whip than that, but it gives you a general idea of what to expect.
Shoot your guns to the beat of the music — the more in time and accurate your shots are, the better your score. Some enemies take multiple shots to go down, while others will require a short range melee attack.
Not only is Pistol Whip thrilling, but it also is one of the Quest’s most consistently updated games, constantly receiving new levels, expansions and content — and all for free!
Perhaps the least conventional entry on this list, OhShape sees you positioning your body into various shapes, matching the cutouts in rapidly approach blocks. It’s like a strange mix between Tetris and VR rhythm-based gameplay.
Synth Riders is another game that’s been around for many years and yet continually pushes out new content and DLC packs. It’s a game with slicker movements compared to others on this list, focusing a bit more on gliding and flowing actions, as opposed to slashing or hitting.
The library of songs available isn’t quite on the level of something like Beat Saber, but there have been some big draws, such as the recent Muse DLC pack.
Ragnarock was a surprise VR rhythm hit in 2021, and for good reason. You play as the drummer of a viking boat, presented with several drumming patterns that rush towards you. If you beat the patterns in time, your crew will sing viking songs in tempo and row in the perfect pace to match the song.
Even better, the game supports multiplayer with cross-platform play, so you can go up against your friends in a viking drum battle at sea.
As we head into 2022, the virtual and augmented reality industry is starting to look a little more competitive than it has in the last few years. But with Apple approaching the market, Meta needs to change its approach to user interface and experience in VR headsets.
For Apple, this is an area of expertise. Apple is known for providing an unparalleled, seamless experience within its own ecosystem. This intuitive ‘walled garden’ approach is both chided and praised from a wider technological standpoint, but the benefit to the Apple user experience is undeniable.
Apple pairs smartly-designed, intuitive user interfaces with a notorious “it just works” attitude to new software and features, capped off by unmatched integration across its own ecosystem of devices. For most users, Apple’s software is the easiest to instantly understand — the complicated technology gets out of the way. Apple’s interfaces are designed to be used with little instruction, from either the device or other people.
On the other side of the coin, Meta offers a very different approach to user interface and experience. Despite being one of the largest social media platforms in history, Facebook is a cluttered and confusing mess of an interface. This is partly because the site’s design is constantly changed, re-designed and evolved to improve engagement. It’s a live experiment in progress, always.
From a sales point of view, Quest 2 has been a phenomenal success and it’s now a fantastic content platform for some of VR’s biggest releases. However, the base user experience mimics the Facebook design principles of confusion, evolution and convolution.
Quest 2 runs a custom VR operating system, built around a modified version of Android. Meta has made significant improvements (both in terms of design and available features) to the OS since the original Quest launch in 2019. For dedicated users and those accustomed to advanced technology, the Quest UI does its job.
For a casual audience however, Quest 2’s interface and user experience is often clunky, unintuitive and confusing to navigate. Simple actions and features are frequently hard to find or hidden away.
This became apparent to me personally over the holiday period, while trying to help my Dad launch an app on his Quest 2. He only uses the headset once every few months, but is otherwise adept when it comes to phones, computers and other technology platforms.
What followed was a series of endless troubleshooting questions for very basic actions. “Have you found the app menu? It’s the icon with a grid of squares. It’s on the dashboard, at the bottom, can you see the dashboard? You bring it up by pressing the Oculus button. No, not that one. It’s the one that has no indentation, it’s flat, at the bottom of the face on the right controller. Can you see the dash now? Okay, can you find the app? It’s in the app menu…”
For a device that can fabricate an entire world around you, with limitless design options, it feels less natural and more confusing to navigate than almost any other platform. Meta’s UI on Quest obfuscates simple actions, over-complicates the basics and seemingly fails at guiding the user around the headset.
A Tale of Two Operating Systems
The reasons for this are somewhat clear – Meta does not have Apple’s breadth of experience in the computer platform realm. Apple have been doing this for decades, Meta just over one.
But with Cambria releasing this year, it seems unlikely it would run Meta’s proprietary OS — a continuation of the modified Android build pioneered for Quest seems like the safer bet.
Apple’s headset will probably feature much of the same design language, features and experience that has propelled Apple to become one of the most esteemed technology companies on the planet. So if Apple’s headset releases later this year, will Cambria’s competing user experience hold up to Apple’s standard?
Apple has spent more than a decade perfecting, streaming-lining and synergizing the design of its three big operating systems: iOS, MacOS and iPad OS. The upcoming headset is rumored to run its own operating system, rOS, and job openings describe engineers working on VR/AR problems alongside Apple’s existing UI frameworks and system software teams.
Meta may have a lead in the VR/AR content war and now seems laser-focused on building its own metaverse, but Apple could easily outplay them on a system software level. How? Let’s speculate on the hypothetical user experience offered by Apple’s upcoming headset, based off the company’s existing products and ecosystem-spanning features.
The (Hypothetical) Apple Headset Experience
Like most Apple devices, the headset will probably pair automatically with your account when placed in proximity to another Apple device you own, eliminating the need for almost any user setup. This would automatically connect the headset to your existing Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth and Apple devices, and your iCloud account.
Likewise, the headset would instantly connect to your accessories, like AirPods, right out of the box. Screenshots or video recordings taken in VR or mixed reality will probably upload automatically to iCloud, ensuring easy access from other non-VR devices. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see other Apple services, like AirDrop or AirPlay, to be integrated at launch as well.
While all of the above is hypothetical, it’s not necessarily unlikely — new Apple devices tend to fit into the ecosystem perfectly. Ecosystem features like AirDrop and automatic pairing are standard fare on every new Apple device.
Many of these features are already available on Quest, some in a different or much less convenient manner. However, the way that Apple melds intuitive design with convenient features is what counts. The average consumer doesn’t have to search very far to AirDrop a photo from one device to another — it’s just a button press or two away at all times. On Quest 2, moving a screenshot from the headset to a phone or computer is unclear and cumbersome every step of the way. For ease of use and intuitive design, it’s still apples and oranges — even when counting recent improvements on Meta’s end.
If Cambria launches with such a low standard of user experience, then Apple’s headset shipping with AirDrop and other ecosystem staples would set it up to outclass Meta in several areas almost overnight.
A Fruitful Opportunity
Meta has arguably bought and developed its way to an impressive content library and feature set, but it lacks the experience to leverage that as part of an effective, integrated platform. At launch, the opposite might be true for Apple’s headset.
Both headsets are aiming higher than a gaming market — they are the next generation of personal computing. If Meta wants to compete with Apple on that level, then it will need to adapt and make some serious changes — and soon.
Clear and intuitive user experience is becoming increasingly crucial as VR reaches a wider audience. Apple joining the fray should present the industry with some well-needed competition in this department – let’s hope Meta bites back.
Eleven Table Tennis announced on Twitter that doubles games will soon be supported in multiplayer, allowing three of four players on a single table.
The tweet, embedded below, indicated that doubles support would arrive alongside the upcoming ‘Avatar 2.0′ update. The attached video shows four players all competing at the same table in doubles, using the new Meta avatars.
Eleven’s next update is set to be a massive one, featuring several new features and overhauls of many existing systems. We know that a new menu and user interface redesign is on the way, which looks to provide a much slicker solution for players, with easier navigation.
There’s also the aforementioned avatar overhaul, which will transition the game from the old Oculus avatars to the new Meta avatars instead. Alongside a brand new aesthetic, the new avatar system features full upper torso support with moving and connected arms. The original Oculus avatars only displayed a floating face with disconnected hands/paddles, so this should be a big upgrade for immersion.
Eleven has been one of our favorite VR games for a while now. Not only is it a fantastic, near flawless, version of table tennis made for VR, it’s also even better when you’re playing without wires on Quest headsets — so much so that it’s placed at #10 on our top 25 Quest games.
In fact, developer Praydog already had support for the mod up and running before the release of the PC version thanks to compatibility with the RE Engine that the recent Resident Evil games were built on. This mod, however, isn’t as extensive and game-changing as those other efforts for obvious reasons. Check out a gameplay video below, and you can download the mod from here.
As you can see, the mod stays in third-person and still uses a gamepad. Unlike the Resident Evil 2 and 3 mods, there isn’t any first-person or motion controller support. But, then again, attack animations and weapon handling is a key part of the Monster Hunter experience, so it’d be practically impossible to translate that to motion controls and maintain the pace and flow of combat.
Still, it’s a fun way to sit back and enjoy one of the best games of the past year in a new way and few things in VR can compare to taking in giant monsters breathing down your neck. Capcom did bring an official Monster Hunter VR crossover to Japanese arcades about five years ago now, but that’s as close as we’ve ever got to seeing the series in VR in any official capacity. Hopefully with PSVR 2 on the horizon, we could see a future entry of the series take up official support.
Will you check out the Monster Hunter Rise VR mod? Let us know in the comments below!
It looks like Beat Saber is getting a new block type.
Yesterday the game’s official Twitter account posted an image of a block that appeared to be sliced into segments, creating a curve. At the time it wasn’t clear if this was a direct tease for something new in-game but, since then, the game’s lead level creator, Freeek has confirmed that this is an entirely new type of block, which many in the community are referring to as ‘Sliders’.
You can imagine, then, this block type getting players to make longer, more directed swipes than the quick flicks that will slice up the original blocks. Freeek also noted that the new type has been in development for a long time now, but will not feature in old tracks. Instead, they’ll be implemented into upcoming releases. Currently, there are no new tracks or DLC announced for the game, but there’s no doubt plenty of new content lined up for 2022. The Lady Gaga Pack is now just over a month old, and we’re really quite fond of it.
By our count, this is the first time Beat Games has added a significant new feature to the actual core gameplay of Beat Saber since it left early access on PC. That’s not counting various optional modifiers and, of course, the many mods that can completely change how you play the game (remember FeetSaber?).
What do you make of Beat Saber’s new block type? Let us know in the comments below!
Just as Steam saw no new games in its list of best-selling VR titles for 2021, PSVR’s top 10 best-sellers for the year is devoid of new titles.
Sony released the list of the top 10 selling titles for PSVR on the PlayStation Store in both the US/Canada and EU territories yesterday. To be clear, these sales don’t count physical games, nor does the PSVR chart track games with optional support like Hitman 3 and No Man’s Sky.
The top three for both lists are identical: Superhot comes in third, Job Simulator in second and Beat Saber at the top. This is hardly surprising – Beat Saber has been the best-selling PSVR app on the store every month for over a year now, and Job Simulator and Superhot (both of which were PSVR launch titles) were always in the top 10, too. Check out the full list below.
Things do get a bit more interesting after the top three. The most recent release on the list is Sinn Studio’s Swordsman VR, which released in September 2020 and hits the fifth spot in both regions. Astro Bot also squeezes into the tenth spot in the EU and Survios’ take on The Walking Dead, Onslaught, ranks in the US too (and the infinitely better Saints & Sinners features in both).
But it’s still a shame not to see any genuinely new PSVR games make the grade last year. In fairness, it’s not too surprising – it’s hard for new titles to break past well-established releases and even the list of 10 best-selling PS4 games only has one genuinely new release for the year. PSVR also undeniably had a quiet 2021, but there were a handful of big releases including new shooters like Doom 3 VR and Fracked as well as other types of experiences like Arashi: Castles of Sin and Song in the Smoke (which was our personal pick for PSVR’s best game of 2021).
Still, with PSVR 2 on the horizon and hopefully releasing this year, we’re hoping that 2022 manages to shake up the sales charts for Sony’s VR efforts. Not to mention that are some big PSVR titles on the way like Zenith.