Sunday, October 1, 2017

Combat VR

I don't have a VR headset, nor do I plan on getting one anytime soon.  They're not cheap and I'm not rich.  Plus, the kind of hardware need to make an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive run to its fullest potential is on the pricy side.  Another major hangup is my lifestyle, which doesn't often allow for long uninterrupted sessions of gaming.  Perhaps the biggest reason of all though is the lack of killer apps.

Of course, what makes for a must-play game varies from person to person.  In my case it certainly isn't gallery shooters.  If anything I'd like to see more combat sims that take advantage of all the immersiveness VR has to offer.  Track IR (a somewhat similar technology) is currently supported by combat flight sims such as IL-2 Sturmovik, Rise of Flight, and War Thunder.  However, out of the three only War Thunder fully supports VR headsets.  IL-2 Sturmovik has partial support in that Battle of Stalingrad does, but Cliffs of Dover doesn't, while Rise of Flight completely lacks support for VR.  I suppose the choice is obvious then...go with Track IR, right?  Well...first off Track IR isn't cheap either, and second, it doesn't fully solve the tunnel vision problem that plagues pretty much any game that utilizes a cockpit POV.  Don't get me wrong, Track IR is a vast improvement over nothing at all, just not enough of a solution to this particular issue I have with a lot of hyper realistic combat simulators.

The problem isn't just VR related either.  A lot of games trying to emulate a particular historical theater of war are often lacking in crucial little details.  To clarify a bit, in all the aforementioned examples the aircraft are meticulously detailed.  The experience is also highly customizable in terms of control schemes, allowing for everything from flight sticks, throttles, and rudder pedals  to a mouse and keyboard setup.  It's all great stuff that sadly feels like it came at the expense of the environment outside the machine the player is in.  To illustrate my point, take a look at the trenches in Rise of Flight.  They're nothing more than flat textures.  The decks of ships traveling across the English Channel in Cliffs of Dover are bare even when they're returning from the evacuation of Dunkirk...and War Thunder...well...let's just say that the developer is determined to keep their game rate 'G' not matter the cost to realism.

I know this sort of layering of detail is resource intensive, both in terms of development and rendering, but the hardware and tools exist to make it possible.  I've been playing flight-sims since the 1985 DOS game Jet; and while VR seems to have a lot of potential in enhance the subgenre, I hope there's going to be more to these sort of games than vehicles with greater polygon counts and higher-res textures.        

No comments:

Post a Comment