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I Expect You to Die 2 Features Wil Wheaton, Launches This Summer

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It’s E3 2021 week so there are plenty of videogame announcements fly around including a few virtual reality (VR) ones. Today, Schell Games has announced that its escape room sequel I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar will be launching this summer and its got some star talent on board.

I Expect You To Die 2

The studio has revealed that I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar will feature six globe-trotting missions to foil Zoraxis’ plans for world domination. These new missions will still feature ingenious puzzles and cunning villains just like before, the first revealed being to protect the prime minister, who happens to be attending a theatre production by world-famous actor and celebrity John Juniper. 

Schell Games managed to get Wil Wheaton (Big Bang Theory, Star Trek: Next Generation) to voice Juniper while the theme song is performed by world-renowned singer and songwriter Puddles Pity Party.

I Expect You To Die 2 builds upon everything our community loved about the first game, and we’re excited to take players on another adventure filled with espionage,” said Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games in a statement. “Wil and Puddles have been amazing to work with, and their enthusiasm has helped us expand the I Expect You To Die universe in compelling new ways. With Wil Wheaton bringing life to John Juniper, and Puddles’s dynamic performance of the new theme song, we’re confident players will feel immersed in this rich, story-driven evolution of the original game.”

I Expect You To Die 2

If you enjoyed the first title and you have a PC VR headset then check out the Steam Next Fest this week because there will be a free demo of I Expect You to Die 2: The Spy and the Liar from 16th June.

I Expect You To Die 2: The Spy and the Liar is now slated to launch this summer on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, SteamVR and PlayStation VR headsets. For further updates, keep reading VRFocus.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/06/i-expect-you-to-die-2-features-wil-wheaton-launches-this-summer/

AR/VR

nDreams Opens Studio Orbital Focusing on Live Service Games for VR

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British developer nDreams is doing very well at the moment, seeing success with Phantom: Covert Ops (2020), Far Cry VR, and soon its latest Fracked will arrive. Today, the studio has unveiled its latest initiative, opening a second virtual reality (VR) development studio focused on live service games, nDreams Studio Orbital.

Far Cry VR

The new studio will be helmed by Chris White who previously worked for FitXR – the VR fitness app which moved to a subscription model this year – bringing his live service experience to the team. White has also worked at Electronic Arts (The Sims Social), Glu Mobile (Project Gotham) and Space Ape Games (Transformers: Earth Wars and Samurai Siege).

“VR continues to grow at pace so it’s an incredibly exciting time to join,” said White in a statement. “There are so many awesome games out there already, but there’s still so much to discover, especially around experiences that engage players for years. I can’t wait to start building out the team and deliver something truly amazing for all the VR players out there!”

nDreams Studio Orbital hasn’t revealed any projects at this time or which direction the team plans to take down the live service route. Whatever the team decide it’ll be very different to nDreams’ usual titles which all tend to be single-player experiences.

Phantom: Covert Ops

Based in Farnborough, UK, nDreams was founded in 2006 and pivoted towards VR when the first Oculus Rift development kits (DK1) became available in 2013. The studio’s first big project was The Assembly which was followed up by Perfect, Bloody Zombies and Shooty Fruity. nDreams Studio Orbital will be fully remote and currently has several roles to fill.

It’s not just live service games nDreams is expanding into. Earlier this year the VR specialist announced a new £2 million fund which would be used to co-fund and publish VR content from other developers.

As and when nDreams Studio Orbital reveals what the team is working on, VRFocus will keep you updated.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/ndreams-opens-studio-orbital-focusing-on-live-service-games-for-vr/

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AR/VR

Carrier Command 2 VR August Launch Date Confirmed

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Carrier Command 2 VR

Last week, the reawakened ’80s and ’90s studio Microprose and developer Geometa announce that the upcoming real-time strategy (RTS) videogame Carrier Command 2 would be getting a virtual reality (VR) version for PC-based headsets. Today, the team have confirmed that Carrier Command 2 and Carrier Command 2 VR are less than two weeks away from launch.

Carrier Command 2 VR

The original Carrier Command is a strategy classic from 30 years ago, and just like before you’re put in charge of a high tech aircraft carrier filled to the brim with deployable craft to conduct missions with. From the command deck, you can operate its systems, gathering intelligence before launching an offensive to conquer the Archipelago. Once the first island has been taken you can then exploit and defend its resources to ensure you’re survival.

Carrier Command 2 isn’t just about controlling the battle from afar, you can get into the heat of the action by stepping into the planes, tanks and other vehicles you’ve deployed.

Originally designed as a PC-only title, developer Geometa listened to the community who wanted a VR version, and so Carrier Command 2 VR was born. The studio reveals that: “While VR was not originally in our roadmap, the literalism of the diegetic interfaces within the game has made it very easy to introduce VR to Carrier Command – this is the same game, with the same balance and same mechanics!”

Carrier Command 2 VR

“In the VR edition, you can control all the same systems, vehicles, and controls, from the bridge of the ACC Epsilon Carrier. Use your VR controllers to move and interact with controls, and remote pilot vehicles. Use the holomap with 3D vision. Move around the bridge, use screens, staff the stations, take first person remote control,” the team adds.

While both versions are essentially different videogames the launch will see both titles bundled together, so there’s no need to pay twice. There’s another benefit as well because both titles are so closely linked, the co-op and multiplayer modes are cross-platform so VR and non-VR players can compete.

Carrier Command 2 and Carrier Command 2 VR are scheduled to launch on 10th August 2021, a price has yet to be revealed. For further updates on Microprose VR projects including the previously revealed The Mighty Eighth, keep reading VRFocus

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/carrier-command-2-vr-august-launch-date-confirmed/

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AR/VR

Review: Winds & Leaves

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Winds & Leaves

As a videogame fan, there are moments where all-out action just feels a bit too much. Maybe you’re having a lazy Sunday afternoon or simply want to unwind after a long day? It’s in these moments where a slower, more peaceful type of experience comes into play. Where beautiful sunsets and methodical gameplay come into their own, you can’t get much more chill than Trebuchet’s latest offering Winds & Leaves, exclusively for PlayStation VR. However, can a VR experience that mainly involves planting trees be entertaining? 

Winds & Leaves

The Canadian studios’ previous title was Prison Boss VR making Winds & Leaves a polar opposite, offering beautiful wide-open vistas which go on for miles and a rich tapestry of colours. Freedom is most certainly on offer here, allowing you to adventure out into a desolate, mysterious land and bring it back to life.

Because you are The Gardener, a being deeply linked to nature who can see the bonds between plants and cultivate them using some powerful magical forces. Much in the same way that Paper Beast left you to ponder and imagine your own story, Winds & Leaves does something very similar. There’s no direct narrative to speak of or real explanation of who you are, you’re on a once verdant planet that is now barren the only clues being rock paintings and unusual tree-like structures which have to be reanimated.

This natural link also means you can’t simply wander around as you wish, you generally need to stay near to greenery, setting up the core mechanic of Winds & Leaves, planting trees, planting a lot of trees in fact. Each tree you plant will create a lush green area which can then be expanded upon however you choose, going in one straight direction towards a point of interest or growing a lush forest. That’s one of the best parts about Winds & Leaves, looking back and seeing a once dry, harsh landscape transformed by all these trees you’ve planted.

Winds & Leaves

You’re well kitted out with an extendable digging tool, a mysterious weather vane, seed pouch, an energy-containing tree stump and stilts. Yes, that’s right, locomotion in Winds & Leaves is entirely on stilts and works surprisingly well. The videogame is only compatible with PlayStation Move, having to hold the Move button down then waggling the controllers up and down to walk. It sounds a little unusual but isn’t too much different to the locomotion systems employed in titles like Sprint Vector, you’re just on stilts. They also give you the option to lower or raise yourself, great for picking seeds off the ground or moving faster respectively.   

It’s not all plain sailing though. The same system for walking is used for climbing trees. So if you’re too close to one then it’s easy to find yourself going up rather than forward. And it soon became clear that picking the seeds off the trees – a vital part of the whole growing process – was far easier than trying to pick them up off the ground, which was finicky and erratic at times.

As for the whole gardening process, that all depends on how much you like continually digging holes. While that energy containing tree stump allows you to walk a short distance away from the life-giving forests, go too far and the roots will pull you back, so you need to get planting. The challenge in Winds & Leaves is careful management of your seed pouch which only holds a measly six varieties of plants, each one having three attributes making them ideal for certain soil conditions. Because of this, there’s a fair bit of seed experimentation and manipulation, planting two or three together to make a new plant, helping you venture further forward.

Winds & Leaves

And this is where that mysterious weather vane tool comes in handy. Time does move in Winds & Leaves just very slowly so the vane greatly speeds this up, making the trees grow nice and rapidly. It’s one of the best effects during the whole experience, watching days flick by in seconds, cloud formations come and go, sunset and rises…you get the idea. While it was always easier to play during daylight, at night there’s an eerie magical quality as you can see the glowing, pulsating connections between the trees.

The end goal is to completely bring life back to this barren place by venturing into four areas and spinning up the giant windmills you find there, all of which point to a central garden that acts as a sort of hub. Once you’ve unlocked certain tree species these can then be found in the garden should you require a particular seed your pouch doesn’t contain. There’s no fast travel so heading back requires leg work until you unlock the glide ability. Essentially a quick dash, it does allow you to traverse the tops of the trees which is always fun.

So you’d imagine Winds & Leaves offers an idyllic world that’s all about being one with nature? Not initially, as VRFocus’ pre-launch review copy continually crashed, occurring six times in the space of an hour at one point. Thankfully, a day one patch does look to have solved that issue. But there are others, like the sheer amount of pop up, especially in the trees. Played on a standard PlayStation 4, once you’ve got a full-on forest going – the whole point of the game – it did start to struggle with all the foliage.

Winds & Leaves

Winds & Leaves has some nice ideas and for those looking for a nice tranquil VR experience with some light puzzles, it perfectly suits. The problem is Winds & Leaves can be a bit too quiet. Lush green grass and colour forests are all well and good but they’re still devoid of life, no animals suddenly return. So you end up walking through your lovely forest world alone, it all feels a bit soulless. Winds & Leaves was enjoyable for the 7-8 hours it lasts yet there was no desire to return.

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Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2021/07/review-winds-leaves/

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Varjo XR-3 Hands-on: Varjo’s Headsets Keep Getting Better, Even as They Get Cheaper

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By now it can be said that Varjo is making the world’s most high-end VR headsets, and not just because they’re slapping on a hefty price-tag. With a core premise of ‘retina resolution’ that really delivers, Varjo’s headsets keep getting better even as they’re getting cheaper. Their visual performance offers an early glimpse of what mainstream VR headsets are unlikely to deliver for years to come.

We’ve been following Varjo since even before the launch of their first VR headset. Every time we’ve glimpsed a new headset from the company, there’s been clear progress in their mission to deliver the sharpest visuals of any VR headset. Varjo’s latest headset, the XR-3, is no exception.

During a meeting with the company in Silicon Valley I got fairly extensive hands-on time with the XR-3, both with its VR and AR capabilities. Despite being its least expensive headset yet, it’s also clearly the company’s best so far.

Photo by Road to VR

Cheaper but Not Cheap

Granted, the company’s headsets are far from anything you’d call affordable. At a whopping $5,500 (+$1,500 annually), XR-3 is the high-end of the high-end. But it’s a steal compared to the prior Varjo XR headset which cost $10,000 (+$1,000 annually). Meanwhile, the VR-3 (the model without advanced passthrough or inside-out tracking) has come down to just $3,200 (+$800 annually).

A Better Bionic Display

All of Varjo’s headsets make use of what they call the ‘bionic display’ system which makes use of a large ‘context display’ for a wide field-of-view, with an overlapping ‘focus display’ for true retina resolution (60+ PPD) at the center of the view. That’s two displays for each eye.

Image courtesy Varjo

The company’s earliest prototypes proved that the company’s unique display system really could deliver retina resolution at the center of the image, but it came with a handful of caveats. I used to have to make mockups (like this) to make it clear to people that only the very center of the display was retina quality and that the boundary between the focus display and the context display was quite apparent.

Varjo’s headsets have gotten better about this over the years, and on the XR-3, the boundary between the focus display and the context display is nearly invisible. This is thanks not only to better blending between the displays, but also because the lower fidelity context display (which provides the wide field-of-view) itself has been boosted in resolution significantly over previous models. Even if the XR-3 didn’t have a focus display for retina resolution at the center of the image, the resolution of the context display alone (2,880 × 2,720) exceeds something like the Vive Pro 2 (2,448 × 2,448).

It’s thanks to this boost in resolution that moving your eyes away from the focus display no longer brings an obvious reduction in quality. This makes it feel much more natural to look around with your eyes in XR-3, whereas on earlier headsets it could feel like you had to train yourself not to let your eyes wander from the center of the field-of-view. This pairs nicely with an expanded overall field-of-view compared to the prior version of the headset, which jumps from 87° to 115°, according to Varjo.

In practice, donning the headset reveals a higher fidelity view than I’ve seen in any other VR headset to date. The center of the field-of-view is truly ‘retina resolution’—the screen-door effect is non-existent and there’s not a hint that the center of the image is even made of pixels.

Photo by Road to VR

While the fidelity of the image is truly world class, there is one notable issue that kept me from being lost in it entirely. On XR-3 I noticed a surprising amount of pupil swim, which makes the image look wobbly as you move your head around, especially when you lock your eyes onto an object in the scene and continue to move your head. The effect was bad enough that I expect it will cause discomfort to some users who are very sensitive to motion sickness.

I don’t know the exact cause of the pupil swim on XR-3. It could be inherent in the lenses, or it could be a calibration issue. And while I didn’t have the company’s other headsets to go side-by-side with, I don’t recall noticing it so clearly on prior models. Hopefully it’s something that can be fixed.

Continue on Page 2: Passthrough AR & Ergonomics »

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Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/varjo-xr-3-hands-on-display-field-of-view-passthrough-ar/

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