Having revealed that the popular virtual reality (VR) title The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners would be getting a big update called “Aftershocks” in May, developer Skydance Interactive had to delay the release due to “technical issues”. Today, the studio has confirmed that the update will arrive in September.
The Aftershocks update is a big one continuing the campaign with new missions, supply caches to find and challenges to complete. In a statement the studio said that: “For our first simultaneous cross-platform content release, the team has been working hard at getting all versions of the update to live up to our standards. The content itself is playable and practically complete, but we are trying to smooth out as many rough edges as we can find.”
Due to the wait Skydance Interactive has released new details fans of the zombie survival experience have been clamouring for. For instance, because the update expands the campaign you’ll need to have completed the storyline to unlock the new content. Aftershocks include: “a number of Reserve Caches to find that are filled with late-game supplies and unique collectables, new enemy layouts and scenarios, a new type of environmental hazard to watch out for.”
The update should add around 4-6 hours worth of gameplay the studio expects – which is a whole game in itself in VR terms. File size estimations have also been listed at: PC VR – 31.3GB; Oculus Quest – 6.73GB, and PlayStation VR – 9.67GB currently.
Reviewing the PC version The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners in 2020 VRFocus said: “From the very beginning, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners offers a satisfying zombie experience that’s hard to match. Titles like Arizona Sunshine easily fill that need for straight-up arcade action, for when you want a living dead apocalypse with a bit more depth then The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is your new go-to videogame.”
Skydance Interactive will launch The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Aftershocks on 23rd September for all supported platforms. For further updates keep reading VRFocus.
Virtual reality (VR) hero shooter Larcenauts arrived back in June for Oculus headsets, seeing a flurry of updates rectifying issues and adding more content. Today, developer Impulse Gear has announced that the next one is right around the corner – this month in fact – further expanding the team-based, multiplayer experience.
Dubbed The Zarius Heist, the update will add an all-new Specialist, a brand-new map, a new payload objective gameplay mode and private lobbies. As for what these individual components will look like remains to be seen, Impulse Gear is keeping quiet on the specifics for the time being.
The content update will certainly be a welcome addition for those players who’ve been engrossed in Larcenauts from day one. While the character roster was reasonably diverse, the videogame only features three game modes Refuel, Uplink and team Deathmatch across four maps Relay, Excavation, Blight and Hazard Pay. So adding another to each of those should really flesh out the experience.
The studio has confirmed, however, that The Zarius Heist will be a free update for Larcenauts players and that’ll it’ll launch on 30th September 2021. Ahead of that date, Impulse Gear will be holding a Daily Deal promotion on the Oculus store this Saturday, 18th September where you can pick up Larcenauts with a ten percent discount. There’s been no mention of a discount for Steam players.
While it wasn’t at launch, Larcenauts is a cross-platform 6v6 multiplayer where you select from a cast of 8 playable Specialists, each with their own unique attributes. There’s someone for everyone such as the explosive Grenadier, the sneaky Infiltrator, and even a sentient Mushroom for nature lovers. They each have their own fully customizable weapon loadouts and unique skills that can be upgraded over time.
VRFocus will continue its coverage of Larcenauts, reporting back with further updates when they’re available.
The largest Defence, Simulation and Training conference descended on London (DSEI) and immersive technology specialist, Kevin Williams, took the time to traverse the massive convention space and return with observations on VR and AR impact in this sector.
The reality of VR in commercial training, simulation and education is often overlooked or side-lined. The enterprise or commercial aspect of VR has proven a very lucrative part of the technology’s deployment, with many consumer headset manufacturers pivoting from a consumer-centric focus to broadening their investment to include a commercial business focus.
What has been coined by me as the “Serious VR” landscape, comprising commercial applications using more powerful hardware and a focus on a core deliverable (such as training, marketing, or out-of-home entertainment). While the “Casual VR” scene is focused on consumer requirements and a price-sensitive, home gaming approach.
The best example of Serious VR was amassed in London, with the holding of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2021, covering all the ExCel exhibition centre, and even taking up the riverside births for presentations of the latest Naval craft. The show gathering more than 30,000 attendees from the international military services, and operations that support them.
Along with warfighting, the convention gathers security, medical, training and infrastructure elements, and the show floor proved a valuable litmus of the actual penetration of immersive technology into the aspects of the commercial scene. Previous DSEI attendance has seen a growing interest in VR, but this years’ shows a definite re-evaluation of the hype over the reality of the value of the technology.
The first aspect of VR application on observation can be described as “Direct Training”.
One of the largest military providers, BAE Systems, used DSEI to launch their new SPA-TAC platform, a solution for sophisticated training, and mission rehearsal suite of tools, using virtual reality visualisation. These allow multiple user support and are deployed on the latest high-end VR hardware. On the booth, the company presented both the latest VRgineers XTAL professional headset, with its impressive field-of-view. Alongside the HTC Vive Pro series.
Another developer at the defence event was VRAI – a specialist dedicated to combining VR and Artificial Intelligence (AI) towards providing enterprise and public service organisations remote training. The ability to use the latest VR technology to create a mobile training solution in the field driving many of the applications seen. On their booth the company had a flight training solution, employing theHPReverb G2 headset. HP is one of those manufacturers that has seen the opportunity in commercial development support. And alongside this, was a Cleanbox Technology headset sanitizing system offering a much-needed hygienic approach to usage in this environment.
Across the way, on the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) stand was a demonstration of high-level immersion for training UK soldiers, employing the latest Varjo VR-3 professional VR headset. DASA is a government fund that invests in exploitable innovation for a safer future. The usage of VR in this application cutting the time for training, and offering better information retention by new recruits, with the control interfaces mapped to offer realistic weapon interaction.
The latest Varjo headset hardware was also seen on many other booths – the platform focused wholly on high-end commercial VR applications, offering an impressive performance beyond consumer headset specifications. The professional headset is deployed in automotive, aeronautical, CAD design and training. This marks a new phase of development in VR deployment, with the commercial sector at such as scale that it can support its own unique hardware development. On the Inzpire booth, the latest Varjo XR-3 was employed promoting its mixed reality capabilities.
The company had on one of their demonstrations a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training platform, that was incredibly portable and rugged. Powered by two high-end PC’s the user could wear the VR headset and see the actual binoculars and physical controls, as the MR capability dropped the real-world imagery into the virtual environment through sophisticated tracking. This was a compelling demonstration of the versatility that VR training can bring, and the level of immersion was extremely high compared to consumer applications. Also promoting their portability of training simulation, the company showed a helicopter simulator, using both VR (from an HTC Vive Pro) and conventional screen, able to be broken down into a small case.
Simple to install and operate VR training aids were also on display at the Lockheed Martin booth, showcasing their Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) gunnery simulator. Employing in the VR configuration the Varjo headset and offering a means to be deployed anywhere for training units. Previously, this level of training would have depended on crude flatscreen alternatives, or expensive dedicated simulators, unable to be deployed in the field. VR applications beginning to be seen as a strong middle-ground alternative.
On the British Army stand was developers and solution providers QinetiQ – developing realistic training environments for mission rehearsal, and procedures. The company presented their latest environment for infantry training and army warfighting scenarios in urban conditions. Deploying the latest VR hardware with their setup of Varjo headsets. The level of visual realism and performance from their VR setup far surpassing anything comparable on consumer hardware.
The second aspect of VR application seen in this sector can be described as “Promotion and Visualisation”.
While there were seen some Standalone VR headsets, such as HTC Vive Focus, and an Oculus Quest 2 – these applications were more for promotional means, allowing visitors on booths a glimpse at simple information or applications. In previous years VR headsets on booths were ubiquitous, but now the focus was more on the high-end application, steering away from the casual approach.
Visualisation also saw the appearance of augmented reality (AR) on the show floor. To be more accurate the services have been employing AR in its basic form since the 1980s with the use of helmet-mounted optics supporting IR night vision or even heads-up telemetry displays. The latest AR technology has generated a lot of headlines in defence procurement, with Microsoft awarded a $22b deal to supply Hololens headsets in the evaluation of battlefield support for the US Army.
AR was represented at DSEI with the appearance of the Microsoft Hololens 2, being fielded on another part of the British Army booth, and with the developer of the application, Atos. The company is a world leader in digital transformation, providing cloud-based and information handling solutions. Their infrastructure used the Hololens to allow the user to have tactical awareness of the battlefield and deployment of resources, communicating with other users in real-time. Offering a demonstration of the future strategic planning aids that this technology represents.
Overall, the new trends on display at DSEI 2021 were clearly the explosion in investment into Unmanned Vehicles and Autonomous support – ranging from Naval based helicopter drones, and UAVs – with the first appearance of UAV land vehicles for support and casualty retrieval. Great advances in this sector are expected, and the use of augmented displays to track and direct these vehicles is expected to grow.
As mentioned previously, from the great hype and promise, VR has entered a more pragmatic phase in this industry. Its ubiquity replaced at this point, for a focus on more grounded high-end simulation, using the newly available high-end headsets. A new phase of development is about to take place, ejecting Serious VR into the next level of immersion.
When it comes to catching a few aquatic creatures on Oculus Quest, MirageSoft’s Real VR Fishing ticks all the boxes, offering a chilled-out experience either solo or with friends. Today, the studio has announced its next major update for the fishing simulator is set to arrive in October, improving the mechanics whilst adding new features.
Called the “Year 2 Update”, it should make the whole experience that bit more realistic with one of the main additions being the ability to provide depth of water variables. This means each fishing location will provide various water depths, with different fish residing at each level. All of this has been designed around real-world data, so each species will be more actually represented.
This ties into the improved fishing mechanic where anglers will be able to play with float fishing for the first time, selecting the depth of the live bait prior to casting. Lure fishing has also been refined with the ability to reel and twitch lures to attract fish with some newly detailed lures.
Other enhancements include a reworked store to be more user friendly, better tutorials and improve audio to ensure and immersive experience.
Real VR Fishing – Year 2 Changelog
Improved Fishing Mechanic: ● New float fishing added to the game ● Live bait added to the game ● Improved lure fishing added to the game ● More detailed lures added to the game ● Players will require to reel or twitch lures to attract fish Depth of Water ● Depth of water added ● Species of fish will be distributed in different depths based on real data ● Each fishing location will have different depths New Store ● A more user-friendly designed store ● Items now have durability and can be broken ● New gloves store added Improved Tutorials ● Improved tutorials with voiceovers and visuals ● Added bite-sized tutorials Improved Sounds ● New relaxing music for the lodge that changes depending on the time of day ● New fighting music that changes depending on the size of the fish ● Improved sound effects
MirageSoft plans on releasing the free Year 2 update for Real VR Fishingon 20th October 2021. Check out the new trailer below and for further updates keep reading VRFocus.
Editor at VRFocus who has reported on the VR industry since 2015. A keen gamer since the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Peter enjoys covering all aspects of the technology; from the latest consumer hardware to enterprise use cases.
Many years before the release of Half-Life: Alyx, a group of fans built a rudimentary Half-Life 2 VR mod which allowed the game to be played with early VR headset development kits. Unfortunately the mod eventually lost compatibility with newer hardware as the first consumer VR headsets began to hit the market. In 2017 the project was seemingly reignited with ambitions to not just update it for the latest headsets, but to remaster the game for VR more broadly; unfortunately that effort never came to fruition. But now a group of proven VR modders is aiming to finally make it a reality.
If you’ve been following the VR gaming space for a long while, you probably recall back in 2017 when the Half-Life 2 VR mod was announced to significant fanfare. The team that had made the original version of the mod (compatible only with older Oculus development kits) planned to update it for modern consumer headsets and remaster the game with VR-specific touches like a made-for-VR UI, multiple locomotion methods, and more. The mod’s original announcement trailer gives an idea of what they hoped to deliver:
Unfortunately, despite a blessing from Valve permitting the release of the project on Steam, the revamped version of the mod never got completed, having seemingly fallen into development hell.
Somehow between then and now Valve made an entirely new VR game, Half-Life: Alyx, which released in 2020 to widespread acclaim. But the Half-Life 2 VR mod may live on yet.
The project has purportedly been re-rebooted by a team including VR modder extraordinar Simon “Dr. Beef” Brown, who is behind VR mods of Half-Life, Doom, and plenty of others.
In a message posted to the Flatscreen to VR Mod Discord community earlier this Summer the team announced that it is working with some of the mod’s original team and building on work it had already done, with the goal of readying an open-source version of the code so that others can begin contributing in a structured way.
A couple weeks ago, @DrBeef and @cabalistic stepped up to see how we could revitalize the project and get it out the door. The goal has been to make sense of the existing work the previous team had done and to polish it enough to get some open source version released as soon as possible in at least an alpha state so that others could contribute to continue to polish it up.
In just the last couple weeks, DrBeef has re-written almost all of the VR code to run a whole lot better and even ported the engine’s VR implementation to use Vulcan instead of DX9 with the help of DXVK! (current VR APIs only work with DX11 and above). He also has fixed a lot of game breaking issues that were in the build. Cabalistic has also done some magic and has gotten MSAA working for textures too.
There’s no rough release date for the new Half-Life 2 VR mod, but one sticking point on the current development path is deciding which version of the Source engine to use as a foundation.
One thing we need to finalize before we get too far along is whether we want to continue the project with the Source 2013 SDK version (all the VR work has currently been done to that version). Or whether we want to switch to the newer CS:GO engine (all of [another modder’s] updated maps was done with that version). We’re not sure at this point how much of a setback switching engines would be. One side advantage of working on the CS:GO port is that that’s what a version of Portal 2 uses and it could mean one day making a Portal 2 VR port (or at least making that easier). The disadvantage to switching is that the project couldn’t be open source as that version of the engine requires a Valve signed NDA for anyone to have access to.
Just this week the team confirmed that work is continuing on the Half-Life 2 VR mod, and further noted that there’s yet a separate mod project in the works by another modder which is aiming to add modern VR support to a version of Source Engine which could be compatible with Half-Life 2.
“Currently, [the other mod’s author] plans to continue working separately, but perhaps there’s still things we can share between projects. If anything, competition could be nice along with options for players,” one of the modders wrote.
It’s been nearly eight years since the original version of the Half-Life 2 VR mod was released, and four years since the reboot was announced. For anyone craving more Half-Life in VR, you’re gonna want to keep your fingers crossed.
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