More Than a Demo: Longer Games in Virtual Reality

Final Fantasy longer vr games

The introduction of new technology is always an interesting period for video games. Developers aren’t always sure of what to do with the variety of options that become available to them, and gamers tend to need persuading before they’re willing to invest in unfamiliar tech.

This often leads to an initial crop of games that can essentially be seen as proof-of-concept titles for new hardware. They’ll feature numerous different playstyles and mechanics while developers find out what sticks, often aiming for variety of gameplay rather than length of content.

Virtual reality is no exception to this. The new VR platforms already feature an impressive library of games, but among these, there are very few titles that are built for long play.

While longer games are slowly making their way to virtual reality devices, there’s plenty of important questions that need to be explored by developers before they can make the most of the experience.

How Long Is Long Enough?

At this point in gaming, the optimum duration of a title varies widely from genre to genre. A first-person shooter like Battlefield 1, for example, will often have a relatively short single player campaign, while RPGs like Final Fantasy XV can take well over a hundred hours to complete.

While having days of content may sound appealing, it’s worth noting that, especially in VR, a short but tight gaming experience is often preferable to an epic saga. There are physical limitations to how much VR a person can comfortably enjoy in a day. Longer games mean longer play sessions, and therefore, more discomfort.

Final Fantasy Longer VR
Gamers expect a road trip game like Final Fantasy XV to be a long experience, even if its VR portion is shorter. Image source: iDigital Times

At the same time, if a game isn’t long enough, players may feel shortchanged. There needs to be enough content to deliver on a game’s core concept, however much time that might require.

Depth Is as Important as Duration

Though it seems paradoxical, sometimes a small game can also be a long game.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, for instance, is a very quick experience compared to other installments in the franchise. There are fewer dungeons, and a smaller game overworld. But the game’s core concept of reversing time to solve problems for various non-player characters means that the same level can be explored multiple times, with new things to discover each time.

Majora's Mask Longer VR
Majora’s Mask is a small game that gets longer as the player explores each character’s backstory and life. Source: SupraDarky via YouTube.

This is the kind of flexibility that VR games need to aim for. Players should feel comfortable breezing through a title if they just want to complete a game as quickly as possible, while those who take a more completionist stance are allowed to take their time ferreting out secret content and hidden elements of gameplay.

This is particularly important in the VR realm, where some players want to treat games like quick demos that teach them about the format’s rules, while others are eager to delve as deep as possible into a game that justifies the expensive purchase they’ve just made.

The Best of Both Worlds

There’s a lot to figure out with a new gaming technology, which means that the development period for a VR game can be quite protracted, even for shorter titles. This leaves gamers eager for more meaty VR experiences to sink their teeth into.

Luckily, there are a few VR titles out there now that deliver more than just a couple of hours of gameplay to enjoy—games like Loading Human, for instance.

Loading Human longer VR games
Loading Human provides a longer, more satisfying story experience than most VR games.

Since its release last month, Loading Human has won a lot of praise from the gaming community for being more than just a proof-of-concept title. The game’s rich story and varied gameplay provide hours of entertainment, leading many to argue that it’s one of the first strong titles for a VR platform that feels like more than just a demo.

What’s more, there’s a lot of hidden content that players can engage with if they’re looking for a more detailed, deep VR experience. Exploring any environment and picking up objects gives the user further insight into the game’s plot and its characters’ motivations, adding poignancy while giving completionists something extra to enjoy.

All of this makes for an experience that’s both longer and deeper than most current VR offerings. Better yet, Chapter One is only the first installment in this episodic release, meaning there’ll be plenty more to play over the coming months and years.

Go On, Dive In

As the VR platform grows, gamers are going to see an increasing number of longer games that have more content to explore. These games will go beyond simply providing tech demos, and will use VR to tell powerful stories and deliver enjoyable interactive experiences.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a slice of VR goodness and see for yourself what makes this new technology so unique.

To try out a rich, deep VR game world with a strong narrative at its core, order Loading Human today for PSVR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive.

 

Lead Image Source: Road to VR

 

Andrew Nguyen

Producer, gamer, coffee roaster, leather worker, and part-time streamer.

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