Virtual reality has faced accusations of being a stepping stone in gaming, here for a moment, not for the long-haul, since its inception. From the launch of the Oculus Rift which first allowed consumers to experience VR at a steep, but somewhat stomach-able price, those who enjoy VR have been seen as jumping on a trend.
This may be news to some, but it must be said. We’re in 2020, and VR looks to be here to stay.
I first experienced virtual reality through Google’s own Cardboard viewer made out of, unsurprisingly, cardboard. Google’s product takes the form of a printable schematic that, when combined with lenses, allows you to use your phone to try out VR. It is a cheap way to test out VR, and one entirely incapable of delivering on the promises of the technology. Due to Cardboard’s flimsy construction, its low quality lenses and the use of a phones screen and power to propel it, Cardboard becomes a mediocre experience.
Admittedly, having not tried any other versions of virtual reality at the time, I still considered it cool, just not to the extent many others saw VR. A few years later I purchased a Google Daydream. An evolution of Cardboard made of higher quality materials. It still harnessed your phone for a screen and power, but now featured better lenses and a remote.
It was Daydream that gave me my first experience in VR that blew my mind. Eclipse: Edge of Night came bundled with my headset. A walking simulator first and foremost, Eclipse is not particularly complex. You walk around a planet left forgotten, presumably, by an ancient civilization. The controls are simple, you can walk and you can interact. And, most excitingly, you can use your jet pack.
It was this mechanic that cemented, for me, VR as something incredible. The feeling of elation I felt moving around the levels was unmatched by much other entertainment. ‘And’, I thought, ‘if this could be accomplished on a phone, what could be accomplished on a more powerful device?’
As it turns out, the answer is a lot. Last year I purchased a proper virtual reality headset: a PSVR. Although not the highest end, it accomplishes so much more than what Daydream and Cardboard could hope to.
The capabilities of the PlayStation 4 allow for higher visual quality and motion tracking. This allows games such as Astro Bots and Skyrim VR to shine. It truly feels as though you are stepping into a new world — not just peering into one through a screen.
This power found in the console is not one that you should expect to find in your phone. Thankfully, it also is not exclusive to expensive desktop PCs any longer. The introduction of VR in the console space allows for a lower barrier to entry, something virtual reality has always needed.
Virtual reality is in a good place in 2020. It can be found on PCs; on consoles; and even on your phone. VR has proven itself to be more than a fad in its introduction to the mainstream through PSVR and the recent push toward a higher standard of games such as Half-Life: Alex. VR is here to stay.