“Gaming is how a lot of people are going to step into the metaverse for the first time,” Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Meta, said in a news release. “VR gaming keeps getting better, and we’re bringing even more great games to our platforms by supporting developers so they can help make the metaverse a reality. This is just the beginning. ”
Oculus Studios Executive Producer Ruth Bram, who delivered the prerecorded presentation, noted that gaming fueled much of Meta’s vision for the metaverse. However, she said the hardware and software behind it “need more work” and suggested a timeline of between five and 10 years to develop.
Wednesday’s live-streamed event demonstrated both the potential and some of the limitations of virtual reality compared to other gaming platforms, particularly around the presentation’s two most notable game announcements.
Teased at December’s Game Awards, “Among Us VR” is set to arrive by the end of 2022. Schell Games, the maker of “I Expect You To Die 2” and “Until You Fall,” is handling the VR port of the beloved indie title from original developer InnerSloth. The VR version will put players into a 3D rendering of the game’s environments and require them to perform their assigned tasks – alongside the requisite murders and accusations – in a more involved fashion than in the current PC and mobile versions. The trailer leaned into the tension of knowing there’s an impostor stalking crewmates (who also have visible hands in the VR mode).
Whether games between family and friends are as easy to orchestrate in VR will be the big question for the murder mystery game. “Among Us” previously rose to popularity in part because both the mobile and PC versions were easy to download and play on widely owned platforms. The VR version will, of course, require a VR headset to play. While Meta’s sales of the Oculus Quest 2 nearly doubled in 2021 with 8.7 million headsets sold, smartphone sales alone topped 1.3 billion last year. The disparity highlights the much smaller potential audience for VR as the technology aims to secure a larger share of the gaming market.
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The NFL’s first VR effort showed off a (seemingly sluggish) sim of players taking the role of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. As the quarterback, the player selects plays and reads defenses before attempting to push the ball down the field against an onrushing defense. Titled “NFL Pro Era,” the game is scheduled for a fall 2022 release.
While it’s being billed as a way for fans to “immerse themselves in the NFL Metaverse,” from the trailer, the game looked more like 3D training software draped in the uniforms of NFL teams rather than a true football game. Whether players are able to do much more than what was shown in the trailer remains to be seen. A multiplayer mode allows you to play “catch” with a friend in one of the NFL’s stadiums, though.
The showcase also featured a number of additions and sequels for existing VR games. “Red Matter 2,” the follow-up to the critically acclaimed, sci-fi Cold War puzzle game that allows players to explore one of Saturn’s moons, will release in summer 2022. “Espire 2,” the sequel to the VR stealth / action game, will release in November of this year.
Previously announced for Sony’s PlayStation VR, “Moss: Book II” is coming to the Quest as well, allowing its users to once again play as the heroic mouse Quill in the action-adventure puzzle game.
“The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners,” already one of the most in-depth and immersive VR titles on the market, will also get its second chapter later this year. Titled “Retribution,” the game advertises that player choices will “weigh heavily” on the plot as you fight off both zombies and enemy factions.
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Speaking of zombies, “Resident Evil 4′s” survival mode, “The Mercenaries,” is also being added to the VR version of the game and is available now, free to players who already own the base game. The popular rhythm game “Beat Saber” will also receive an expansion titled “Electronic Mixtape” featuring music from artists like Marshmello and Deadmau5. There is no release date yet for the new music pack.
The event also included trailers for four new games, including a surprise announcement of a new four-player cooperative “Ghostbusters” game with an undisclosed release date. If you’ve ever wanted to take a 3D tour of the metropolises you’ve built in “SimCity,” then “Cities: VR” aims to fulfill that fantasy. The game allows players to build, manage and explore cities of their making. It releases April 28.
The showcase’s more exotic offerings included Stress Level Zero’s action-adventure physics game “Bonelab,” a follow-up to the studio’s previous fan-favorite VR title, “Boneworks.” There was also a new RPG game titled “Ruins Magus,” which touted “26 narrative-driven quests.” Both games are scheduled to release later this year.