The Case Of The Immersive Boredom /18 May 2016/


I have been a relatively happy indifferent Oculus Rift owner pretty much since it started shipping.

Is it really that awesome? Have I cut contact with everyone I know because I have been playing with it all day and night?

  1. Yes, it is really that awesome.
  2. No, I haven’t. Actually I haven’t played with it all that much even though it is that awesome.

You see, the problem is that there is nothing to play really.

Turns out creating a good VR game is not simply a matter of “enabling” it, it’s actually quite hard. The game has to be designed for this kind of experience from the ground up.

The Oculus Store has a handful of games designed for VR but most of them don’t look interesting enough for the investment. Most of them are short, one could consider them as “demo” material only.

EVE: Valkyrie, what was supposed to be the leading blockbuster for the Rift, is so disappointing, I could probably fill a whole article with only ranting about it. Perhaps I will.

There is always Elite: Dangerous, which is really THE game to play with the Rift. Landing in a Coriolis station while being able to properly look around in the cockpit and out the windshield (is it even called a windshield on a spaceship?) with my hands on my X52 HOTAS is massive nerdgasm.

You may ask: Is that it? Is being able to looking around all? The answer is: it depends on the game. In the case of Elite free head look is all you get. And boy does it make all the difference.

The things that make the experience so fulfilling are so subtle you don’t even think about them. When I say free head look I don’t mean what you can do with the mouse when you switch to head look mode. With the Rift on you are not restricted to just looking up/down and left/right with your head always in the center. The headset tracks the position of your head in full 3D so you can look behind or under your seat for example, which is great fun when you are driving a landing buggy. It sounds like a small thing but these are the kind of details that make the experience so immersive, the seemingly unsignificant bits that make you feel you’re there.

The problem with Elite is that I get bored of it after a few days. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the same thing happened after I started playing it with the Rift. VR doesn’t add any extra functionality to the game, it just ramps up the experience several notches. Looks like immersive boredom is still boredom.

I guess it will take a while until good games are released for VR. In the meantime, keep calm and wait for No man’s sky.