There I was, impaled by an alien. I was carefully walking around a space station, with nothing more than my (admittedly dim) wits and a motion tracker, watching a large, terrifying alien stamp about. My only direction was to survive. "You had one job!" I failed at it.
The tech demos are over: Oculus Rift's second development kit at E3 2014 isn't running any dalliances aimed at proving the tech. It's running real-ass games. Alien: Isolation was the third game I played, and it was by far the most terrifying. You're not a space marine, and you're not named Ellen Ripley. You're just some unwitting sheep running from assured death at the hands/tentacles/teeth of an H.R. Giger-designed alien. Delightful.
Alien: Isolation is being made by Sega-owned game studio The Creative Assembly. Hell, it's coming out this year on game consoles and PC. Again, the demos are over -- there are entire game dev teams dedicating time to virtual reality at this point. Isolation is proof of that, and it's a great first example. It's not even clear how people will be able to play Isolation's VR mode at this point; the game's headed to PC, but there's no VR headset to buy just yet enabling said functionality. Sure, you could buy a dev kit and stuff, but that's pretty far from ideal.
Anyway, Alien: Isolation is meant to terrify you. You're stuck in a confined area of a space station while the aforementioned alien stomps about. If it sees you, you're done. Not, "Oh, I'll turn and run." Not, "Shoot her! Shoooooooot herrrrr!", Jurassic Park-style. It comes right at you and the motion sensor in your hand doesn't offer any defense. So while I snuck from room to room looking for an out, I was able to avoid interacting with the hulking beast a few times. About three minutes in, though, he spotted me dead on. I turned to run. He caught up quickly and stuck me through with a vicious-looking appendage. I looked down and saw said appendage sticking out of my chest, blood dripping from it. The future of gaming is pretty messed up, y'all.
Do you like Super Mario 64? How about Super Mario 3D World? Or Ratchet & Clank? Well you should be super pumped about Lucky's Tale, the second game being published directly by Oculus VR. It's being made by the folks behind Words with Friends and, before that, they were Ensemble Studios alums (Age of Empires, Halo Wars, etc.). It's a colorful, cutesy third-person platformer. You feel a bit like a god, looking down on a cartoony world filled with stars to grab and platforms to bounce on. "So what; it's a platformer!" you say. Okay, okay -- cool it.
What makes Lucky's Tale especially cool is the gameplay implications of wearing a head-tracking VR headset. Lucky has to throw bombs occasionally; simply look at your target and push a button. Boom! How about hidden secrets? Just look around the level; having a VR headset on means the 3D platforming world of Lucky's Tale is a physical platform just a few feet away from your gaze, able to be explored more deeply than ever before. What's that next to the ledge? Just bend your head around the corner and take a look, why don'tcha? While the game at first feels like little more than a pretty 3D platformer, it quickly becomes a whole new experience in VR.
First and foremost, you can play Superhot right now. And you absolutely should, because it's super boss. Check it out right here.
That aside, playing Superhot in VR is bananas. The conceit of the game is that time moves forward as your character moves. So it's a first-person shooter, but the bullets only move toward you as you move your character. It's kind of like living in The Matrix's bullet-time sequences; you can literally watch a bullet as it whizzes past your head, slowly moving forward as the bullet creeps past you. It makes the whole shooting experience far more personal. One bullet takes you down, and there are many bullets. Playing Superhot feels like a game of virtual reality Twister. I found myself moving in short bursts, advancing time and carefully moving my head as to avoid the bullets flying my way.
Forget Team Fortress 2's VR support -- Superhot is where it's at for first-person shooting in virtual reality.
Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.