As Oculus, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive keep gaining momentum it’s hard not to wonder if the future of gaming will be entirely situated in VR. There have been plenty of failed “next generation” concepts over the years, but while the Power Glove never quite took off, a lot of things have returned in ways that impress us. Which means that even if you got a headache from some cheap “VR” headset game as a kid, tomorrow may still be the day you embrace that world.
And that brings up the big question: Will the nature of games themselves change? Will the franchises that bring in the most money today survive, or will they have to adapt or perish?
With that in mind we put together a starting list of how some of our favorite franchises might look in a VR world, and why we’d like to see it happen.
1. Star Wars Battlefront
We considered a lot of FPS series for this list, but while Halo and Call of Duty certainly will survive a major switch to VR, it’s the big sandbox-type war zone games that will really benefit. Think of how beautiful Battlefront is on your screen, and imagine seeing all those crazy real-time events first person in a virtual world.
The idea of looking up and seeing another real human’s X-Wing zoom overhead, of seeing people firing blasters over your shoulder while you hide from enemy fire: It’s all quite epic in scale, even for the already-epic world of Battlefront. Yes, Battlefield will look and play great too given the same opportunities, but there’s something about the possibility of turning around to look Darth Vader in his mask that gives us the right kind of shivers.
2. Resident Evil
A game series founded on the premise of feeling helpless and confused sounds like the perfect port for VR. Imagine walking through the mansions, the towns, the compounds, and hearing sound in 360-degree surround. Turn a corner and come face to face with a zombie. Hear a window shatter. Spin around and see a dog bounding for you.
Actually, that sounds horrifying and awful, but watching your friends suffer through it sounds pretty hilarious, and if we know anything about horror games, it’s that people will play them if they’re pressured into it. So yes, there’s a market for this. Best part: With that VR headset on, it won’t matter if you play with the lights on.
We know that the biggest names in sports franchises will jump on any opportunity to advance the technology behind their games. While over-the-shoulder play has dominated football games for years, we suspect it’s not because programmers haven’t considered first person — some iterations have included first person, in fact — but because first person doesn’t give you the same environmental control as a pulled back camera. That could change.
Imagine if you could look over your shoulder to see what your running options are. Imagine looking through the QB’s helmet while trying to decide if you should call an audible. Or more simply, imagine getting your replays through the eyes of the playmaker as he levels someone for a sack.
It doesn’t work for every sport, and there will always be bird’s-eye view devotees, but for one year, as an experiment, we’d be excited to check it out. Heck, VR could even work for the overhead view — imagine picking your receiver by looking at him, or looking upfield by looking up.
4. Grand Theft Auto
Imagine walking down the streets of Los Santos or Liberty City like a real pedestrian. Only instead of the awkward GTA V first person format, you have full range of motion to look up at helicopters, down at the stranger you just punched, or over your shoulder as cops fire randomly in your direction.
Rockstar has always loved innovative mini-games. Imagine the things they could come up with. And drunk mode walking? That kind of blur imposed on a virtual reality experience would be intense. And if you somehow needed a better case made than that, remember that Grand Theft Auto is the series made famous by in-game prostitutes and strippers.
5. Tomb Raider
A sweeping high art visual puzzle jumper; cavernous, beautiful ancient ruins; grand sweeping vistas; intricate upgrade systems; and objectives that require you to see subtle clues and pick up semi-hidden objects: All of these things make Tomb Raider great.
They’re also perfect opportunities for VR to take a step into the mix. Imagine all of the little flourishes: Everything from reaching out to pull an ancient lever, to picking up a stray coin off the table, to watching the torch light play across the stone columns in a man-made cave.
Beyond that, all those weapon crafting puzzles and workshop bench tasks would be more hands-on, and that alone would be a better invocation of the whole Lara Croft mystique.