Ratchet & Clank creators Insomniac Games are going all-in on VR via the Oculus Rift. Insomniac will debut three new titles for the popular but troubled VR platform, spanning a range of themes, genres, and gameplay concepts.
Edge of Nowhere will be planted firmly in Insomniac’s third-person action wheelhouse, though it’s more a Lovecraftian Uncharted than the typically lighthearted escapades you might find in Ratchet & Clank. Rather than looking through the protagonists eyes, the turn of your head will direct the camera and the player character’s flashlight.
Feral Rites is pitched as a cross between The Legend of Zelda and God of War, with a dash of Altered Beast. It’s the third title in that mash-up that sold me. The world and narrative will borrow from Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, starring a shape-shifting combatant who is “set on revenge, fighting your way through harrowing missions and quests as you acquire new abilities, including the power to transform into a feral beast,” according to a post to the Oculus blog.
Finally, The Unspoken will turn you into a virtual street magician, participating in Harry Potter — or maybe Harry Dresden — styled magical duels with other denizens of Chicago’s burgeoning occult fighting scene. Rather than the card tricks and shell games of a typical Chicago street magician, you’ll have a palette of supernatural powers to be unleashed at the flick of your wrist.
Insomniac may be diving in head first, but it hasn’t done so blindly. Company President and CEO Ted Price says that they’ve entered with “open eyes,” and he’s fully aware of the challenges that VR experiences bring.
At GDC 2016, Price told Engadget that working with Oculus is a process of “mutual discovery” because it’s a “brand new frontier for everybody.” The developers have to think “very differently” about level design, because “there are different rules that we’ve discovered one should follow when dealing with camera, when dealing with character controls, when dealing with passthrough levels.”
It’s encouraging to see major studios express interest in virtual reality gaming, but it’s even more so when they put their money where their mouth is. Only time will tell whether the plethora of virtual reality experiences will be able to gain enough market penetration to be a viable form of entertainment in their own right, but participation from a studio as successful as Insomniac is a great place to start.
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