Medal of Honor: Above & Beyond, Half-Life: Alyx, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. These are just some of the awesome – what we’d call – ‘next gen’ VR games coming out in 2020. Could these AAA virtual reality experiences carry the potential to tip the scales of public perception of mainstream VR gaming?
If even a little-known indie VR game called Boneworks can top the Steam bestselling chart, it seems like VR is finally going big in 2020. Ever since the inception of virtual reality the technology has divided gamers into two camps. The niche gamer will gladly put a clunky screen on their head and designate a whole room as their VR-space. Meanwhile most mainstream gamers have absolutely no interest in the technology. But VR gaming is evolving, as shown by physics based badass-simulator Boneworks.
Developer Stress Level Zero jumped on the VR hype train right at the start of the commercial release of VR. But their initial game called Hover Junkers (2016) encompassed what was still the limit of VR at the time. The game featured fairly static shooter gameplay and not that much ‘VR stuff’ to do other than hold guns and edit a little hover vehicle.
With Boneworks the American developer has pushed the envelope on what the tech is capable of. Both the game world and the player are physical and interact with each other in a completely realistic way. By tearing down the wall between virtual and reality, Boneworks immerses the virtual body of the player into the virtual world. That, not quite coincidentally, is the narrative of the story as well, as you enter an A.I. operating system through VR. And Boneworks paves the mainstream road for other titles, most of which will see a release somewhere in 2020.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond
For example, the renowned (and kind of forgotten) shooter series Medal of Honor will be coming to VR in 2020. After the reboot of the series in 2010 people looking for a modern day-shooters were satisfied with the Modern Warfare-franchise. And who could blame them?
But with a VR rendition of Medal of Honor, developer Respawn Entertainment tries to bring that cinematic WWII-experience to the next level. After all, infiltrating a Nazi base can be tense, but when you’re doing it in VR that sense of dread and tension gets even more pressing.
Where Boneworks is a narrative physics simulator with a whole slew of sci-fi apparatus at your disposal, the next Medal of Honor is grounded and cinematic. And we’ve never really had a triple-A studio with huge budgets make a gripping narrative story in VR.
Above and Beyond is just one of the big AAA franchises shifting from a ‘traditional’ game to VR. Fans of the Half-life series may not have been aching for a sequel to 2004’s Half-Life 2 in the shape of Half-Life: Alyx. Still, how could they improve the thematic and physics-heavy gameplay of Half-Life better than with VR? There’s so much awesome stuff in that game that only works in VR.
Granted, it’s a bold move by Valve. There’s probably little to no game that’s more requested and meme’d about than Half-Life 3. Making the sequel a game that – by it’s nature – is designed to please a niche is risky. For fans of the VR platform though, Alyx shows that big companies start to see the potential of the tech. Hell, Valve even made their own VR headset which is quite possibly the most important reason as to why Alyx is a VR only-title.
Regardless, Valve surely also saw how entertaining a gripping, lore-heavy world combined with awesome physics stuff like the Gravity Gloves would be. And it’s these little steps forward that can shift the VR gaming concept into the next gear.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners
And where Boneworks has the innovation, Medal of Honor with the budget, and Half-Life having the fan following, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners has a little bit of everything. The game is set in the Walking Dead universe, popularized by the AMC TV. Saints & Sinners seems to be the first ‘real’ Walking Dead game that features everything that made (the first few seasons of) the show great.
You have to interact in a world infested by zombies, scavenging for food, meds, and weapons. The game features crafting, a storyline and some of the tough decisions Rick and the gang had to make in the show. Moreover, the Saints & Sinners might even draw an audience into the world of VR that would gladly disregard all the other games on this list. After all, for a couple of years The Walking Dead was a show everyone talked about.
These are just a few games that might draw a portion of the mainstream audience to VR gaming. 2020 will most likely see the release of titles like Iron Man VR, Sniper Elite VR, stealth game Espire 1, zombie survival shooter After the Fall, LOW-FI (best described as Cyberpunk 2077 in VR), the sequel to the sci-fi narrative Lone Echo, John Wick-simulator Panther VR, and the list goes on. There’s even a Tarzan VR game coming and I don’t care if that sounds lame, I want it!
So what do you think, is 2020 going to be the year of VR? Or are you just bummed out that some of the biggest games of 2020 (i.e. Half-Life) won’t be available for your favorite platform? We at Game Enthusiast aren’t quite sure if the tech will get picked up by the mainstream gamer. Let us know what you think in the comment section below or on our Facebook page.