I have not had the best of luck when it comes to testing VR. My only experiences before E3 have been either slight or nauseating, depending on the game. So when I had an opportunity to try out PSVR launch title Battlezone, the arcade remake being put out by Rebellion, I almost declined. However, I want VR to work, so I strapped into the former Morpheus headset and gave it a look. I’m glad I did, as Battlezone is easily the best game I’ve played in VR yet.
Some of this may have to do with my personal inclination towards neon and that 80s retro future born out of vector graphics and Tron. Battlezone looks incredible from the moment you start playing, including a launch sequence that’s straight out of Star Tours. Once you’re out on the battlefield, you have access to two weapons, and you immediately start getting swarmed by opponents on either side. There are flying drones and enemy tanks to combat with, and everything is hovering around in a way that makes the whole game feel like a bumper cars arena you can take home.
I appreciated the level of detail that was put into the tank’s cockpit that you called home. Your controls moved realistically even though you were using a Dualshock 4, with levers and switches configuring as you made wide turns and loaded your gun. The gameplay was relatively straightforward, but it did justice to the Atari original. The game continues the arcade tradition by giving you new levels and new powerups every time you play, so each run will be a bit different and force you to find new ways to beat your “high score.”
Of course, this all wasn’t to say that I didn’t have problems getting into VR. I’m still not intimately familiar with the PSVR headset, and I struggled with placing my glasses and the headset together in a way that put the game into focus. The developer of the game helped me out, and also mentioned something that made the whole VR experience click for me. I was looking at the entire screen and expecting everything to be sharp and crisp, but that’s not how real life works. I wasn’t trusting my peripheral vision in the virtual space, and once I treated it like normal vision rather than a game, I was drawn in.
I have a feeling that everyone is going to go through these first steps regarding virtual reality, and I can’t wait for PSVR to come out and afford more people the chance to jack into virtual worlds and experience this stuff themselves. I went into E3 not interested in VR in the short term, but this game changed my mind. Battlezone will be one of the fifty launch titles for PSVR this coming October.
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