The Console Wars Enter Virtual Reality at E3 2016

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is a huge conference in the world of gaming with developers from all over coming to debut their plans for the coming future. Everything from new games, changes to existing games, new platforms, and more are announced and gamers the world over tune in to get a piece of the hype. This year especially has a lot of people hyped because of all the VR related announcements and demonstrations which were available. When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were coming out gamers were arguing about which one was better, in terms of performance, exclusive game titles, online services, and so on; the main point of these debates was to try to identify the superior console. This time of pre-launch for a new generation of game consoles is typically referred to as “Console Wars” and after E3 2016 it’s clear that the console wars have entered the VR battlefield; with Sony, Microsoft, and Oculus announcing several VR innovations at the conference, gamers the world over are going to be remiss to pick a system to support this time.

Sony
Sony performed very well this year at E3, with fans of theirs very happy with things to come. One of the biggest announcements from Sony was the release date of their notorious PlayStation VR; which is set for October 13th 2016. Sony has been teasing everyone for a while about their PlayStation VR and while fans are hyped they really wanted to know when they would be able to own it; so needless to say this was a big announcement. Sony didn’t stop there though; they also announced a myriad of titles which are going to be available for the PlayStation VR, which includes both standalone games for the PSVR and VR components for existing or scheduled PS4 games. Some of these titles include: Bound, Resident Evil 7, Here They Lie, Tethered, Batman: Arkham VR, and the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XV. What caught a lot of eyes was the trailer for the Star Wars: X-Wing VR Mission, which is coming to all Star Wars Battlefront owners for free on PSVR. From the trailer displayed at E3 it appears that this is an intergalactic dog fighting game in everyone’s favorite Star Wars ship; and it looks like it’s going to be epic.

Microsoft
Microsoft has been a longtime rival with Sony, and that rivalry continued this year at E3 with Microsoft’s announcement of “Project Scorpio” or their version of a VR headset. Microsoft entering the VR race seems like a no brainer to a lot of people, if Sony is launching PSVR then Microsoft almost has to work on their own VR device or the next generation of console wars will be over before it even begins. Microsoft is being very skimpy with details about Project Scorpio, much like Sony was in the early days of, what was called at the time, “Project Morpheus.” One announcement which has a lot of people very excited is the announcement that Fallout 4 will be coming to Project Scorpio as its flagship game. Make no mistake, we’re not talking about one section or a few missions, Microsoft claims that the whole game will be playable from start to finish on Project Scorpio, which is obviously a big claim to make and has a lot of people excited. Fallout 4 will also be releasing on the HTC Vive on “June 2017 or sooner” according to Bethesda; which would seem to come pretty close to the release of Project Scorpio which is scheduled for “Holiday 2017.” Another significant announcement for Microsoft is that Minecraft is getting cross-platform online play, including VR platforms. Cross-platform play is a bit of a rarity in the gaming world, whenever it is announced that a game supports cross-platform play gamers always get excited; simply because it means there are more people to play with and that if you have a PS4 and your friend plays on PC you can finally play together.

Oculus
PC gamers the world over have a lot to be excited about with all the announcements from Oculus this year at E3. One of the major announcements from Oculus was their announcement of their new touch technology, coined as “Touch.” The purpose of this technology is to put a controller in each hand to further enhance the VR experience. Furthermore Oculus has announced that they will be releasing 30 full made VR games this year alongside the release of Touch, which has a broad release window of later this year. In order to sort of debut or demonstrate this technology, Oculus showed a trailer for “Oculus Medium” which is a creation platform that lets users create things in VR in the same way they would by hand.

Oculus also announced several games which it will be launching and they all sound exciting.  One of these games is Killing Floor Incursion, which is a cooperative first person shooter game with horror aspects that is Touch-enabled. This game has people excited for a few different reasons; primarily people are excited to see how the Touch will change first person shooters in VR. Additionally people are excited about the cooperative aspect of this game, the key to success in Virtual Reality is socialization; playing with your friends has been a hallmark of gaming for as long gaming has been around. Other Touch-enabled games which Oculus announced include: Wilson’s Heart a psychological thriller, The Climb a VR climbing game with stunning visuals, CastleStorm, and more. Its seems like Oculus was able to really take advantage of the spotlight at E3 because, unlike Sony and Microsoft, their VR technology is finished and new games and applications are being developed for it constantly.

At the end of E3 every year there is always the discussion of who “won” the conference that year; meaning whose press conference was the most exciting and garnered the most interest. While Sony and Microsoft have a lot of irons in the fire it seems like Oculus “won” simply because of all the VR content they were able to debut. Not only did they announce new technology like Microsoft and Sony, but they announced a myriad of VR games coming out; and having the Rift technology already available gives them more credibility than Microsoft and Sony, who at this point are known unknowns when it comes to how their VR technology will perform. The real winners of E3 as always are the gamers, whether you’re a Sony supporter or an Xbox fanboy there is a lot to be excited about and the future of gaming will be here before we know it.

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