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Flush with Facebook cash, Oculus is going after VR games

Hayden Dingman | June 13, 2014
When Oculus VR announced it was being acquired by Facebook for $2 billion, the response was...well, "contentious" would be an understatement. Some very vocal VR fans were not happy to see the scrappy start-up gobbled up by the social media giant. But let's be honest: The acquisition has a ton of upside potential, too.

Games like Alien: Isolation, Lucky Tales, and Superhot, all of which I got to demo at E3.

Playful's Lucky's Tale is a true built-for-VR experience, but not like you'd expect. It's actually a third-person platformer, of all things — it looks a lot like a modern, VR version of Crash Bandicoot, actually, which is funny considering the recent Rubin hire. (Naughty Dog made Crash Bandicoot on Rubin's watch.)

Lucky's Tale is interesting primarily because a third-person perspective is such a weird experience to build around in VR — so far, most experiences have been about immersive first-person content, and for good reason. Lucky's Tale works surprisingly well as a platformer, although it did little in the demo to show off the advantages of VR.

Superhot is a bit of a port, though fleshed out for VR. If you didn't get a chance to play the Unity demo of Superhot, check it out — the game's a blast. It's basically a puzzle-shooter, where time only moves when you move. Bullets come toward you but stop when you stop moving, allowing you to plan routes around them. With the Oculus version, the twist is you can lean side-to-side without moving time forward, allowing you to pull off some amazing, Matrix-style bullet-time movements and duck out of the way of your enemy's shots.

Finally, there's Alien: Isolation, which is a full-blown game from Sega arriving this fall. Isolation is really a horror game where you play a weak human hiding and fleeing from a large, terrifying Alien from the namesake series of movies. It's a perfect fit for the Oculus in that capacity — the enclosed feel of the Rift is a natural match for horror. I only got to play for a few minutes, but it already made Isolation feel like a more interesting and intimidating game than it did when I played on a normal monitor.

A strong foundation

All in all, Oculus put on a strong showing at E3. Despite everyone's fears over the Facebook deal, so far all it has done is enable Oculus to make the Rift a more viable platform. If a Facebook buy-out is what we needed to ensure that virtual reality arrives alive and intact, that's something I'm willing to live with, despite my continued fears over Facebook, privacy, ads, and the rest.

And before you ask, no, we still don't know when the consumer version is coming, though we did hear this from Mitchell: "We don't have any intention of doing a DK3, but we do want the Oculus to always double as a development kit." Other than that it was the same old "No comment" we've been hearing for over a year now.

 

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