Snippets of VR-centric news have been coming out from major game studios and their subsidiaries—specifically from EA, Microsoft, and Ubisoft—throughout the course of E3. Here we take a look at some of the VR projects the big studios have mentioned in passing.
Although it may seem like VR still plays second banana to the big studios’ franchise sequels, the fact they’re entering the VR space at all speaks volumes to the boom of VR content soon to come.
EA uses Frostbite, their in-house game engine, for a number of their key franchises including Battlefield, Need for Speed, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect. A quick dripping of info came from COO Peter Moore, saying that “Frostbite will be at the core of even more EA games, including experiences for mobile devices, and one day maybe even for VR.” If EA plans on effectively bringing VR support to their own engine, it would signify a commitment not only in man hours, but serious money coming from the gigantic studio.
After announcing a partnership with Valve on Monday, Microsoft went on to demo HoloLens, showing the mixed reality device working with the Xbox controller and a few as yet unrevealed multiplayer features on Minecraft for HoloLens. However in an interview with Gameslice’s Geoff Keighley, Xbox chief Paul Spencer revealed that Xbox users could be seeing some future interoperability with HoloLens. When asked how HoloLens plays with Xbox, Spencer replied that “there’s a good roadmap for Xbox customers if they own a HoloLens…” The statement is pretty noncommittal, but it shows that Microsoft is not only thinking about the PC side of cross-platform integration.
Ubisoft Director of IP Tommy Francois offhandedly beckoned E3-goers to stop by their booth to play the Sony Morpheus version of the new iteration of their gravity-defying Trackmania franchise, Trackmania Turbo. This was the only VR-related news to come out of Ubisoft’s press conference on Monday, but was later revealed to be only 1 of 4 VR projects on show at E3 by the France based studio.
According to a pre-briefing before E3 reported by The Guardian, David Votypka, the creative director of Ubisoft-owned developer Red Storm, announced three prototype VR games demoing at the Expo: Eagle Fight, Raving Rabbids Theme Park Ride VR, and FarCry 3-inspired Vaas VR.
Eagle Fight is “a multiplayer flight-sim shooter built by Ubisoft Montreal, in which two teams of two players participate as eagles, competing in a capture-the-flag match above the streets of Paris,” reports The Guardian.
Raving Rabbids Theme Park Ride VR is a “virtual rollercoaster experience incorporating Ubisoft’s loveable critters, as well as a motion seat.” The photo was found nonchalantly posted on Ubisoft’s twitter among a series of Ubisoft booth highlights.
Vaas VR is an experiential demo that is “a virtual reality take on the cinematic scene in Far Cry 3 where the player meets deranged antagonist Vaas as he explains the definition of insanity.”
Road to VR met with Ubisoft Montreal’s VR Team Game Director Olivier Palmieri at E3 who explained the 10 strong ‘VR’ team is currently at the ‘prototyping ideas’ stage and that bigger projects may arise later. Ben and Paul also went hands-on with both Eagle Fight and the Vaas VR demo’s on the DK2 as well as Trackmania Turbo on Project Morpheus and will share their thoughts on those soon.
These particular studios aren’t exactly displaying a ‘loud and proud’ attitude about their VR experiences for a reason, mostly because their core market is still playing on flat screens and modest hardware—and with Oculus setting the bar at $1500 as the barrier to entry for a complete VR experience—we may not see the fanfare until mass market adoption takes hold.
We have boots on the ground at this year’s E3 in LA. Stay tuned for more updates, interviews, and breaking VR news.