It may seem like virtual reality has already taken over gaming news, and to be sure it’s one of the hot topics of 2016 so far. But the fact remains that we’re still in the very early stages of virtual reality as it relates to personal gaming. And because of that, we don’t yet have a great idea of which games, or types of games, are going to thrive on VR.
That’s not to say we don’t know about some of the titles that are starting to trickle out. Dozens of games have already been confirmed for various VR devices, and some of the big players in the market have promised hundreds more in the near future. Every type of game is going to be tried on VR. But which ones will thrive? Here are five types of games that seem to have the inside track.
1. Realistic Racing Simulations
If there’s one type of game built for virtual reality, it’s probably racing simulators. An analysis by Car Throttle explained exactly why, specifically citing comments relating to the adaptation of the game Project Cars to PS4’s VR headset. The idea is basically that in a racing game, what’s ahead of you comes rushing at you—almost as if it’s interacting with you, rather than the other way around. Engaging with this sort of environment within a VR headset turns this into a more realistic sensation than ever before. It’s also worth noting that in racing games your “character,” so to speak, is actually stationary. It’s the car that moves. This sort of compartmentalization takes away the potential awkwardness of physical movement while playing a VR game—you’re supposed to be sitting still.
Frankly, everything that’s right about racing simulators is wrong with shooters. Namely, the motion problem comes into sharp focus when considering a shooter. How real can virtual reality actually feel if you have to move with a joystick or control pad while your mind is tricking you into feeling like you’re actually in on the action? It’s almost like imagining controlling your everyday movements in real life with a controller. There’s an awkwardness to it. For that reason it may take some time for any one shooter to emerge as a great VR experience. But this type of game makes the list because it’s still one of the most popular genres out there. Even if adaptation seems difficult, you can rest assured most every major developer dabbling in VR will give it a shot.
3. Exploration Games
You can thank the mobile gaming market for re-popularizing the kind of point-and-click exploration games that were once popular in browser and PC gaming. Popular games like The Room, Limbo, or really even Minecraft are all pretty much about the environments more than any sort of gaming action. Your job is to explore and interact, to solve puzzles and get creative. Games like these will have the same movement issues discussed with regard to shooters, but things move a little more slowly, which should mitigate the problem a little bit. Meanwhile, games in this category give developers free reign to experiment with crafting detailed, immersive environments that should be wonderful on VR.
4. Casino Games
Many still think of digital casinos as minimalistic experiences that consist largely of tapping chips and cards to put them in play. That’s true with some of the simpler ones, but some of the higher-end online casinos have actually made some significant strides in cultivating a more realistic experience. Leading the way in this regard, the live casinos at Gala now allow online players to interact with live dealers for a variety of casino games. To clarify, that means a real human being is dealing cards, collecting chips, and talking to you as you play, just like you would see in a real casino. Considering digital casino games in light of the introduction of features like these makes their potential on virtual reality quite clear. Even without live dealers, a 3D tabletop experience in which you can look at other players’ avatars, swivel your head to look from player to player, etc. is pretty enticing.
5. Hybrid Activities
In celebration of the recent Easter holiday, we posted about a VR egg hunt. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the various hybrid activities—part game, part promotion, part story, etc.—that will be coming out on VR devices. Another interesting example is the simulation of The Martian that was going around at CES 2016. According to Deadline, that experience was “out of this world,” giving players a chance to sort of watch the film but also sort of play it like a game. You get the idea. As VR consoles become more popular, there’s going to be an endless stream of experiences that may not be full-fledged games, but which give VR players new activities to enjoy.