Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the world from the viewpoint of a bird?
Ever wanted to explore the bottom of the ocean and watch in awe as enormous whales pass you by? Or enter a computer world, as if in Tron or the Matrix? Companies are even looking to launch VR camera satellites into orbit, providing an otherwise impossible real viewpoint that’s accessible from your living room.
One of the great strengths of virtual reality is the capability to make players see the world around them from a new perspective. When used well, VR can deliver one of the most paradigm-shifting experiences possible in gaming.
Making the Impossible Possible
For the most part, in our daily lives, humans have very few opportunities to see through a different pair of eyes.
Here’s where VR shines: games like Eagle Wings let players see what it’d be like to fly miles above the ground, while diving simulator theBlu gives players the chance to explore sunken ships and get up close and friendly with magnificent undersea wildlife in a way that would never be possible in the real world.
That said, there’s only so far that perspectives can be comfortably stretched—making a VR world that’s too far removed from reality can end up making it feel abstract. While games like Audioshield are very enjoyable, the detached, sparse game environment hardly leaves the same emotional impact on the player as games with settings that are more influenced by reality.
The best VR experiences build on ideas and scenes that are already familiar to audiences in order to show something that’s wonderful and awe-inspiring, but which isn’t so mind-blowing that the brain doesn’t know how to process what it’s seeing.
On the other hand, there’s a danger present in keeping things too grounded—a game world that becomes familiar too quickly stops being diverting.
Substance Trumps Style
As new and interesting as a VR game world may appear at first, pretty visuals aren’t enough to hold the player’s attention for very long.
For a player to have something to really sink their teeth into, a game needs to make use of its unique perspective to offer up puzzles, challenges, and content that can only be appreciated using the medium of VR.
As wonderful as they are, this is where experience games such as theBlu might fall down—the underwater setting is a fantastic experience, but beyond watching the local wildlife, there might not be much to keep players engaged.
Instead, games like Robinson: The Journey give players a new perspective, and then use that as a puzzle-solving tool: the trailer shows the player having to dash from side to side to avoid being trampled by a herd of dinosaurs, all the while being reminded of the relative size of these creatures and the player’s vulnerability.
It’s difficult to know how much of the trailer’s experience will translate into the final game, but this use of VR’s perspective to create engaging puzzles and gameplay, rather than just scenery, is what developers should be aiming for.
Shifting Perspective for Plot Point
For games that look to tell a story, the unique perspectives that are possible in virtual reality are an excellent way to build up the narrative and teach the player about the world they’re in.
A common setting for VR games, and one which is being used really well by several titles, is the idea of entering a digital world—after all, this is a perfect reflection of the player’s actual experience of putting on VR goggles to play a computer game.
Whether these games are focused on neon-lit sports games as with Holoball or hacking computer programs as in Glitchspace, they present a familiar computer-based narrative that gives context to the often abstract experience of playing these games.
Loading Human goes even further with this idea, to explore the shifting of perspective in more nuanced ways. Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll just say that the player finds themselves in a seemingly idyllic, realistic space at the beginning of Loading Human—until a series of digital hiccups suggest that not everything is as it seems.
It’s fun to see how this affects the game experience—Loading Human is built around a solid plot, and shifting the player’s perspective forces them to rethink the game they’re playing, as well as the logic and rules that govern their experience.
Doing so makes for a more varied, nuanced play environment as players have to not only think laterally to solve problems, but also question everything about the world around them.
Seeing With Fresh Eyes
Changing perspective is useful for creating a varied, unique experience that lets players see the world around them in a different way. It’s important, though, that these experiences feed into the gameplay, and that there’s enough content to explore and puzzles to solve for players to feel immersed in their setting.
The best VR games will use a unique perspective to give players the chance to try something new, and to present them with a varied and interesting gameplay style and narrative.
So if you’ve ever wanted to see the world through the eyes of someone—or something—completely different, you’re in luck: there’ll be plenty of fantastic experiences on the way to you very soon.
To try out a brand new perspective, pre-order Loading Human today.