Last week Game Debate was invited to the first ever VR World Congress (VRWC), with more than 30 exhibitors and dozens upon dozens of speakers providing the low-down on just about everything there is know in virtual reality. Leading the charge just a matter of days after the launch of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, VRWC provided attendees with the opportunity for hands on experience with latest experimental games and software.
More than 700 people attended the sold out event, which featured showings from the likes of AMD, CryTek, Opposable Games, Coatsink Software and Overclockers.
Speaking to conference organiser Dan Page, he said the first VR World Congress was "an incredible success", and plans are already in place for next year’s showcase. Having sold out the 750-capacity exhibition hall well ahead of the event, the VRWC team is considering hosting a multi-day event in 2017, with the number of attendees “in the thousands”.
Plenty of the event was given to the wide-reaching capabilities of VR outside of gaming, include its use in 360 movies and live events, as well as with even crazier utilities such as designing cars, helping with surgery, or taking users through virtual showrooms of potential new homes.
During the morning session we caught a presentation from AMD’s Roy Taylor. Corporate VP and head of alliances at Radeon Technologies Group, Taylor hosted a keynote on the race to realism, talking about the rising hardware demands for VR. In order to achieve total immersion he believes we need somewhere in the region of 92x the performance currently offered by AMD’s top tier of Radeon graphics cards.
We also got hands-on time with Opposable Games’ Salvaged, a unique real-time tactical action game in which you strap on a headset and take on the role of a commander, dictating where you crew moves within alien wrecks. It’s XCOM-lite in this sense, and makes interesting use of the HMD to deliver a virtual control room. You can peek at various monitors to get first-person viewpoints of what your crew is up to and watch what happens in real time as you dish out orders.
Crytek’s The Climb proved a popular attraction at VRWC. If you haven’t seen this yet it’s a VR climbing game that has the player racing up various mountains. Clearly designed with the Oculus Touch in mind, Crytek said these controllers weren’t ready to show yet so we played it with an Xbox One gamepad instead. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with how engaging it was with just a gamepad, it felt like a decent approximation of climbing. Whether it’s got any long-term potential is a bit concerning though.
All in all it was a fascinating peek at the first baby steps for this young industry. VR is going places fast, but it’s so unknown and unpredictable that it’s difficult to tell what will be the driving force to really see it take off. How difficult could the VR landscape look like by the time VRWC 2017 rolls around?