A common trend while walking this year’s Consumer Electronics Show floor was, without a doubt, virtual reality. We largely have the success of Oculus to thank for the recent boom in VR tech, but I had to wonder what it meant for the video game industry seeing all those headsets at every booth. Alas, I was only able to demo one headset personally, but picked up some information about many others.
The one set I tried was by Razor, and it is called the Open Source Virtual Reality headset, or OSVR for short. Razor is doing something great with OSVR: instead of having a static headset with all the features already on it, the OSVR is modular. So if you want to customize the display with different eyeware or a different virtual reality hardware altogether you can do so, and the OSVR software will incorporate what you are using into the control of the game. Of course there’s some limitations on what you can do with the headset your using and the compatiable games, but it is nice having that freedom to not be tied down with one headset, like Oculus, when others are coming out and you might want to play their games too. Speaking of games, OSVR didn’t have a game to demo, but instead a 3D rendered cinema to watch with the OSVR headset. It was pretty amazing to be honest. The headset reacted well to movement, the sound was clear, and it really felt like I was slowly moving towards a city-destroying robot! Fun times!
Other VR options included headset mounts for your smartphone. These were neat in concept, but not as cool as a full blown headset for VR. Essentially, you could hook up your iPhone to the mount, place it really close to your face, put on some headphones, and use the gyroscopic sensors to simulate 3D tech movement. It’s a great approach to the VR scene, but didn’t look or feel as impressive as Oculus, Sony’s PlayStation VR, or the OSVR.
Another trend I saw was two screen VR and one screen VR. From what I experienced, having one screen was ideal for someone in my condition (I have a lazy eye, if you didn’t know, so I can’t see out of my left eye), as it most easily let me view the action on the headset. With two separate screens it was difficult for me to see the entire playing field because the headset would require both eyes to see the two screens, blend them together, and give you the 3D effect. I demoed a random booth using a headset (I forgot which one!) and played Xbox One’s Killer Instinct (my first time playing it, as well!). I couldn’t see the far right and far left of the screen because of that aforementioned issue. But if you have no eye issues, then having two screens will probably be fine for you.
Removing VR tech altogether, there wasn’t much else I saw in terms of gaming. Sony was there, and I was actually able to play the Street Fighter V beta for the first time. I picked up a controller and naturally selected Ken, but was surprised to see how different he played! Aside from the new design, his Hurricane Kick with fierce kick is redone, his reach seems different, and in general he just plays differently from his Street Fighter IV days. Regardless, I’m even more excited to pick up the game when it releases. There was a line behind me to play, so I couldn’t get around to playing anybody else. I want to try out Necali and Laura, two new characters for the series!
Sony also had the new Ratchet & Clank on display. I didn’t get a chance to play it personally, but watching the game in action was gorgeous. I really love a game with tons of color and an imaginative world, and though Ratchet & Clank can be dark and brooding, it still looks great. With an upcoming April release date I’m hoping the game is a worthy entry in the series and not just a movie tie-in cash-in.
Not at the Sony booth but still using a PS4, I demoed PS Now once again. The entire concept of PS Now is great, but I just don’t like the pricing. I played Street Fighter IV on PS Now and didn’t see any lag at all. The show’s Wi-Fi could (and probably was) have been outstanding and that affected the gameplay lag, so I took that with some hesitation. And that price point, ugh!
Lastly, I stopped by a booth that really just sells video gaming cables, controllers, and swag, and they happened to have a gigantic NES controller running the original Super Mario Bros on a big screen. Naturally I jumped right in, took the warp pipe in World 1-2, warped to World 4, got to level 4-2 before dying, all before turning around and seeing a sizable crowd of jolly nerds watching me! It was like the good ol’ days of the arcade, only in a convention center with a console game and a comically large controller! It’s like the same thing!
This year’s CES was great, but I felt a sort of familiarity with everything present. Virtual reality, at this point, is nothing new, neither is streaming games, huge TVs, or novelty video game controllers. That being said CES is hardly a video game convention. It’s a tech convention, and video games happen to be featured in one small corner of a one big hall, and part of an even bigger convention. Still though, with each new CES I’ll be sure to check out the video game tech. Who knows, perhaps next year there will be something even more amazing!
Happy New Year,