On my way to PlayStation Experience, I was excited for many things: new game announcements, rubbing elbows with the top names in the industry, and playing all the games I wouldn’t have access to for months or maybe years later. Conclusively, I can honestly say that PlayStation VR was the most impressive exhibit on the show floor. I have never been one to doubt Sony, even in times when I probably should have. However, I can truthfully say I have one hundred percent faith in VR. While I was there I got to experience a good amount of new games, three of which were PlayStation VR – London: The Heist, Distance, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood were just a few games that used VR on the show floor.
London: The Heist started as a tech demo at the early stages of PlayStation VR, at a time where PS VR was only known as Project Morpheus. Fast-forward a little over a year and I now have probably experienced my most profound moment in gaming. In order to be granted a spot to try PS VR at PSX you had to first download the PlayStation Experience app and schedule an appointment. There were two appointment lists: the first was exclusively for RIGS (which I sadly did not get to experience) and the second list was a PS VR Demo list. This list included a very large array of games that you had a choice of waiting for at the time of your appointment or take the first game available. I chose to wait for The Heist. While in line there were TVs above each booth showing you what the player sees for each game demo available. Ultimately, The Heist caught my eye and I knew that it was the game I needed to play. Finally, it was my turn. The PlayStation representative let me know where to sit and allowed me put the headset on my head. The events after, well, are as if they are from another life.
Everything about the headset was designed perfectly, from the weight, to the head adjustments. It all just works and needed no explanation. After I got the headset in perfect position, the PlayStation rep handed me two move controllers telling me the triggers are all I would need. The final piece was then placed around my ears in the form of PlayStation gaming headphones. I was then transported from the game floor to the inside of a van in England. I looked down at my hands and I see not a controller, but hands. Yes, realistic, moving hands. I pull the left trigger and my left in game hand closes, the same goes for the right hand. I took the red pill and this rabbit hole just started. I hear a voice in my ear; I realize it is the PS rep, and he tells me to interact with whatever I want. There is a soda cup in the dashboard I pick it up and my brain is now tricked, I feel the cup in my hand. I set it back down and turn to my right to see the driver; we are in London after all. I leaned over and naturally turned on the radio, it felt as real as if I was sitting in my own car, without hesitation changed the radio station and could even change the volume. This is where things start getting exciting.
You hear the driver yell “On your left” as you turn you notice a very angry motorcyclist not hesitating to kill you. As you dodge the bullets that shedder your windshield the driver accelerates and takes out the motorcyclist. You watch the threat roll over top of the van. By this time I’m so immersed in this game my hands automatically go up to protect my face from the body flying at me. The driver wastes no time, as he knows there will soon be more. He starts to punch out what’s left of the windshield and throws you a gun. I’m right-handed, and I know what you thinking, “Why did he tell me that” but it will soon make sense. Because I am right-handed, I catch with my left, after the driver tosses the gun at you, you instinctively catch the gun as you would normally. This was a surreal feeling after I was given a chance to think about it. However, I had no time in the moment, vans and motorcycles were closing in on our position. I was with my gun and something felt off and almost uncomfortable. It took me a second and I realized that I don’t shoot with my left hand.
Just like you were to switch hands with a real gun, I moved the two controllers together and pulled the trigger on the right one then switched hands. I could not believe it, something so simple yet a usual barrier in games was gone, I could finally do what I was thinking without a weird button press or jumping into a menu. Seconds later my senses were overwhelmed, I looked to my left an there are vehicles racing in. I then turn to the right and I saw more of the same. Here is where my gaming skills come in. I picked up my hand and started firing. I was shooting guys off motorcycles, at drivers, and even shooting out tires. Motorcycles were flipping over and vans were rolling out of control. I felt like I was Nathan Drake and nothing could stop me. As you start running low on ammo those clips scattered around the cockpit now come into play. Never before could you multitask in a game like this, using only your peripherals you could pick up a clip with your free hand and keep aiming and firing, when you ran low on ammo you just slam the magazine into the bottom of you gun, cock the gun and you are back to being the bad ass self you are. After about a minute the PlayStation representative leans over and tells me that this game is fully 3D and I can, if I would like, look out the window on the door. I couldn’t believe it so I had to try. As I spun in the passenger seat, remember we are in London; I stick my head out of the left door. My left hand instinctively rested in between the outside and inside essentially covering where the window retreats into the door. I turned to look behind me and I saw four vehicles speeding to get next to us. Now, I would have none of that. I took out the two motorcyclists and there were only two vans left. I shot the left vans driver and he swerved into the one on the right, essentially taking out two at the same time. I pulled my head back into the car and attempted to catch my breath, which was short lived. The driver swerved to the right so I turned to the left to see why, and an armored car pulled next to us from an exit ramp. My first thought was I was going to need a bigger gun, however before I could of done anything the screen fads to black and the demo was over. I took off PlayStation VR and experienced almost the same sense of when I put it on, that I was leaving reality and entering a man made world only this time my reality was the game.
VR was the best gaming experience I have ever had and is the next step for us in the world of gaming. I truly believe every type of game from action-adventure to role playing games can, and will thrive with VR. Imagine an action-adventre game, like Tomb Raider, where your VR now takes the place of your right analog stick. Now imagine an RPG where you no longer have to scroll through countless pages to find your skill tree or inventory but instead look around your room and see all the menus open at once. This is just a few examples of what VR can do, and how it can have subtle, yet massive implications. This article was not meant to convince you that VR is amazing – only playing it for yourself can do that. This is also not me trying to convince you that PlayStation or PlayStation VR is better than the rest, if you have another system please get Oculus Rift for your Xbox One/PC or also on PC, the HTC headset if you prefer the partnership of Valve. This is however just me expressing my excitement about VR. This is something that I had to talk about it, and hope that it has at least sparked your interest in VR. When VR finally does come out, make sure you take the red pill and follow Alice down the rabbit hole.