It feels like odd talking about 2015′s gaming innovation of the year being VR. I remember being a young lad at a science exhibition somewhere when I first had a taste of virtual reality. Despite the weighty headset nearly snapping my neck, I was left speechless by being able to immerse myself in these computer generated worlds that I loved so much. Sadly, it never took off like I wished it would, and my VR dreams seemed to vanish into the ether.
This was, until last year. A friend lent me his Oculus Rift DK2 and I was immediately almost overwhelmed by the joy I felt. These were only tech demos I was playing, but the excitement of exploring a coastal villa, or having my stomach turned by a VR rollercoaster created in Minecraft, or sitting in a chair floating in space while planets and asteroids performed their celestial ballet below me, it was unmatched by anything else I played with all year. I sorely regretted handing the DK2 back to him.
Later on in the year, at EGX, I was lucky enough to get hands on time with PlayStation VR. I was somewhat more sceptical about this one, after all, does the PlayStation 4 have the grunt under the hood to pump out VR content, but my concerns were instantly, and emphatically, blown away. A demo called ‘The Kitchen’ found me bound to a chair in the eponymous dingy, run down kitchen, with a seemingly lifeless corpse at my feet. Suddenly, the man rises to his feet, terror on his face, as he desperately explains that we needed to leave immediately. As he attempts to sever the rope constraining my hands, I notice a shadow moving directly behind him. A tip of the head to the side reveals a grotesque, The Ring-esque female character approaching from behind, who attacks him. They fight, and their scuffle carries them out of my line of sight until an eerie silence fills the room, broken a few seconds later by the severed head of the aforementioned man rolling across the floor before landing at my feet. A sequence of ominous footsteps crept up behind me, my chair tips back to reveal my captor’s twisted features. She lets off a blood-curdling cackle, before plunging a knife into my head. The screen cuts straights to black and I’m left cackling manically, partly out of fear and partly out of amazement, and I’m left absolutely convinced; that PlayStation 4 can do VR.
The most exciting thing for me though, is that with the consumer version of Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR all land this year, both console and PC gamers will get the chance to experience this incredible leap forwards in video game immersion.
2015 may have shown the possibilities, but 2016 is going to be the year when VR crashes into the mainstream and becomes a major feature of living rooms across the world, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.