One of the early issues with all virtual reality products is content. However, Oculus proved at its press event that it already has several titles currently in development for the Rift. Some of those announced at the event are from well-known companies, but there is also room for indie games to get their time in the sun.
Space: From A New Perspective
First up was CCP Games, the team behind the popular online game EVE Online. For a few years, the developers teased bits and pieces of another project in the same universe called EVE: Valkyrie, which would put the player in the pilot's seat and explore the universe from a first-person perspective. The team showed a pre-alpha trailer (first shown two months ago at EVE Fanfest in Iceland) of what the game would look like, and our very own Fritz Nelson and Seth Colaner got a chance to try out the demo version after they played the company's Disc Arena last week at Computex. We'll get a chance to check out more on EVE: Valkyrie next week at E3.
Two more titles also made an appearance by way of trailers. Gunfire Games showed an adventure game called Chronos where the player controls a character as they make their way through a labyrinth. However, the labyrinth only opens once a year, so if the player fails, their character fails, and they must wait another year (obviously not in real time) before attempting the maze again. Each time, the character gains more knowledge and skills to tackle more of the labyrinth's challenges. Think Dark Souls, but not as punishing (we hope).
Another title was from the well-known Insomniac Games called Edge of Nowhere. The player traverses a harsh tundra and faces unknown forces such as spirits and other creatures while trying to survive in the frigid environment.
What's interesting about these two games is that the trailers showed a third-person view of the characters as opposed to a first-person view that we would normally expect from a game designed for the Rift. There might be two reasons behind it, the first being that these games are still in development, and the whole first-person aspect still needs more work. It could also simply be that you might not need that first-person perspective to get a deeper sense of immersion throughout the game. (For example, Lucky's Tale, a thoroughly delightful demo that has been around for a while and is coming as a full title to the Rift, is third person, but you get a strong immersive sense of your 3D environment.)
More To Come and Indie Support
On top of the trailers were quick announcements about other titles we'll see next week at E3. These include a first-person-shooter game called Damaged Core, a sports-based first-person game appropriately titled VR Sports Challenge, a real-time strategy game called AirMechVR, the aforementioned Lucky's Tale, another third-person title, and a game called Esper.
In addition, Oculus announced that it's working with many developers to bring more content to the Rift. The list includes 16 companies including Ready At Dawn, Harmonix, and Square Enix. All of these titles will be collected under a single hub within Rift called Oculus Home. Players can see what the games look like before purchasing them and can also easily join other friends playing games on their own Rift headset.
Oculus is also working with Unity and Epic Games to bring the latest game engines to Rift development. There's also Oculus Share for developers to share their latest creations and ideas for making games.
However, development isn't just limited to the big development teams. The popularity of independent titles continues to rise, and the Rift could be another way for developers to get their games in the hands of more players. To encourage indie game development for the Rift, Oculus is investing $10 million into developers that can make unique titles that you wouldn't expect from the big companies. With that amount of money, we can hopefully look forward to a surge of indie games making their way to the Rift.
More Than Enough
The potential for games on the Oculus Rift is huge. There are already a few games that support multiple versions of the Rift (such as the DK2 and Crescent Bay prototypes), but the fact that Oculus has big-name developers making games for the headset and is also encouraging indie game development is big.
It might not be right around the release date, but at some point after the Rift hits the market we should have a huge collection of games specifically designed for VR. Whether it's flying in space or exploring the depths of a cavern, Oculus wants to make sure that its VR headset is the best thing to use to give you a deeper level of immersion.