Well this is bold: Icelandic developer CCP is making its upcoming space dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie exclusive to Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset you’ve been hearing about for years while probably wondering when it’ll stop being a thing you’re always hearing about and become an actual thing you can buy (and no, the $300 developer kits don’t count).
Not soon, unless you consider late 2014 (or early 2015) soon enough. I suspect we’ll know more when E3 rolls around, unless Oculus VR stages its own here-we-go press event. For all the developer and media accolades the headset gets, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how the company rolls.
In the meantime, Oculus VR says EVE: Valkyrie is its first Oculus Rift co-publishing project — so in other words, a huge feather in CCP’s cap. Oculus Rift isn’t a sure thing, but if it catches with consumers and CCP’s dogfighter turns out to be any good, it could propel the beloved-if-niche MMO developer from semi-obscure status to mainstream darling (CCP could surely do with the latter, after first-person shooter Dust 514‘s ho-hum reception).
I’m skeptical about Oculus’ technology, because I hate the idea that I have to basically hoodwink my eyeballs with a giant, kludgy-looking pair of goggles (head-jack, please). I’ll say this: CCP is one-thousand percent correct when it says, “We strongly believe the best VR experiences are going to be the ones built from the ground up for VR, and we’ve kept that in mind whilst developing Valkyrie.” I have no interest in playing games that haven’t been designed from the ground up for VR, any more than I want to go see movies not filmed explicitly for 3D in 3D.
“We wanted people to really feel like they were there – to sense the vastness of space, feel the confined area of the cockpit and get that adrenaline rush as you see an exploding fighter whizz past your head,” writes CCP. Will I be able to snap my head around, whip-fast, to follow that exploding fighter? Will the virtual imagery be as crystal-clear as a 1080p display? (I realize the final version can output at 1080p — I’m talking about overall image clarity, because if it’s even a trifle blurry or there’s a fish-eye aspect to the output, I’m not interested.)
But I am interested, because I’d love a VR product to work the way I’ve been hoping one might since William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Brett Leonard’s The Lawnmower Man and Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and Looking Glass Studio’s System Shock. The question’s whether workarounds like head-mounted goggles, however spiffy, are going to be any more appealing now than they’ve been for decades, as we wait for the inevitable holy-holy direct computer-brain interface.
MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full