The Oculus Quest port of The Wizards: Dark Times will launch next week, developer Carbon Studio confirmed.
The fantasy adventure touches down on the standalone platform on May 6th. Dark Times is a full sequel to the original Wizards that packs a linear single-player campaign. In it, players use gestures to summon spells and weapons like fireballs and ice arrows they can then use against different monsters. Check out the trailer for next week’s launch right here. The game’s already listed in the Quest store’s coming soon section.
The Quest port of the game has been a long time coming – we first announced Dark Times as part of the Upload VR Showcase in 2019 and the game released on PC the following year. We debuted the first Quest footage for the title late last year.
We gave the game 4/5 on PC last year, saying: “The Wizards never lets you forget you’re playing a VR game. Rarely do more than 10 seconds pass without the need for grand hand gestures to summon magic or for you to reach out and interact with things around you. They’ve got a great magic system that’s intuitive and fun to master in a fantastical world that provides a unique type of adventure you won’t quite find anywhere else.”
Naturally, we’re excited to see how the Quest version holds up. A co-op mode is also planned for the experience post-launch. Carbon, meanwhile, is also working on a new Warhammer VR game due out later this year.
May 6th also sees the launch of Demeo, the new tabletop VR RPG from Resolution Games. Will you be picking up either game? Let us know in the comments below!
Nvidia’s First DLSS Compatible VR Games Include No Man’s Sky
NVIDIA’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology allows PC gamers who are running GeForce RTX GPU’s to improve the graphics performance of their rigs using AI. Since launch, over 50 videogames have steadily added support but for a technology that would obviously benefit from it, virtual reality (VR) hasn’t been included; until now that is. Today, NVIDIA has confirmed three VR titles are now DLSS compatible.
The most prominent of those videogames is most certainly Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky. Whether you’re playing in VR or non-VR modes NVIDIA DLSS “doubles your VR performance at the Ultra graphics preset” the company claims. Plus, if you happen to be on an Oculus Quest 2, with DLSS on it’ll maintain 90 FPS with a GeForce RTX 3080. Standard desktop gaming should see a performance boost of up to 70% at 4K.
Also on the compatible list is Into the Radius, a survival shooter which launched last year. Set in a post-apocalyptic zone inside Russia with a misty, grim-looking environment, DLSS will add an improvement to the anti-aliasing, so shimmering and stair-stepping on objects and foliage should be reduced for a more immersive experience. Lastly, car mechanic sim Wrench has gotten the AI-powered treatment. Players could see a performance boost of up to 80% on top of the ability to enable ray-traced effects in both VR and desktop modes. Making those engines look super detailed and visually gorgeous.
Hopefully, this is just the start for NVIDIA DLSS support for VR videogames, with more to come in the following months. There are certainly a number of high-end, performance-hungry VR titles VRFocus can think of which would benefit from these sort of improvements.
As for the other non-VR games on the list AMID EVIL, Aron’s Adventure, Everspace 2, Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition, Redout: Space Assault, and Scavengers can now use the feature.
You do, of course, still need the right GPU’s to enable NVIDIA DLSS in the first place. They include the RTX 3060, RTX 3060 Ti; RTX 3070, RTX 3080, and the all-powerful RTX 3090. Getting one, on the other hand, is another matter, with stock continually sold out at most retailers.
Should further VR videogames add DLSS support, VRFocus will let you know.
Facebook’s Previous Head of Oculus & Reality Labs Partnerships Leaves Company
Hugo Barra, one-time head of Oculus and VP of Facebook Reality Labs partnerships, has announced that he’s left Facebook.
Barra announced the news in a Facebook post, saying that May 17th was his last day at the company. Barra says he is going on to so “something completely different” as he takes his next step in the healthcare technology space. Exactly where that will land him isn’t clear for now.
“I hope to be able to apply what I’ve learned from working in the consumer tech industry to help solve meaningful problems in the healthcare world. Looking forward to sharing more soon,” Barra says.
Barra came to Facebook in 2017 from his role as Global VP at the China-based tech giant Xiaomi, replacing Oculus’ first CEO Brendan Iribe. Iribe allegedly left the company due to Facebook’s decision to shift focus away from the PC VR Rift platform and towards standalone VR. Rift has since been shelved after the release of Rift S, the PC VR successor built in partnership with Lenovo.
During his tenure at Facebook, Barra oversaw the launch of the standalone 3DOF headset Oculus Go in 2018 as head of Oculus. Assuming his latest ultimate role in 2019, he also worked on the company’s Ray-Ban styles AR glasses.
Arena Shooter ‘Solaris Offworld Combat’ Comes to PSVR Today
First Contact Entertainment is finally bringing its most recent team VR shooter, Solaris Offworld Combat (2020), to PSVR today.
First launched on Oculus Quest and Rift late last year, the 4v4 arena shooter has struggled to replicate the same level of fanfare as the studio’s mil-sim team shooter, Firewall: Zero Hour (2018). Solaris focuses on fast-paced action, quick respawns, and abstracts away most all of the shooting realism which has seemed to have hooked diehard Firewall fans over the last few years.
Built around its ‘Control Point’ game mode, which is essentially a constantly shifting game of ‘King of the Hill’, Solaris pits players against each other to either reach the score limit, or have the most points before the five-minute round is over. We went hands-on before it launched last year on Quest and Rift, and you can read our full impressions here.
It’s a well-made game that is possibly too simplistic in some respects. The PSVR version however supports both DualShock 4 and PSVR Aim, which seem better suited to the single-handed nature of the game’s gunplay. It’s uncertain to what extent the game will support cross-play with the Quest/Rift versions though, and it seems we’ll have to wait until later today to find out.
In an effort to drum up support, the studio is offering 50% off for PlayStation Plus subscribers for the first two weeks after launch, putting Solaris at just $12.50. If you’re curious to see Solaris is action on Quest, check out our five-minute gameplay video below:
The Virtual Arena: HTC Vive’s Influence in Enterprise VR – Part 1
In the first of a two-part feature in his latest Virtual Arena column, industry specialist Kevin Williams marks the six-year anniversary of HTC’s Vive platform in commercial entertainment – initially looking at the lesser reported history of the VR tech in this scene and the influence it has had on shaping the business.
While many are focused on the consumer sales of virtual reality (VR), the commercial (enterprise) aspects of the market seem to be the new recruiting sergeant for innovation and advanced design. Following a major launch of new VR hardware, HTC shines a light on this approach. But it’s the commercial entertainment deployment that also needs some perspective to better understand the thinking going forward for VR adoption.
HTC is a company that has epitomised the eventual separation of the VR community between the “Serious VR” and the “Casual VR” businesses. While many would see consumer videogames as a vital aspect of the industry, it is still a casual pursuit, and with the projection of the standalone VR scene as the focus of considerable investment this can overshadow the rest of the business. But as has been seen VR headset manufacturers now pivot towards a B2B, high-end PC-VR, approach.
– Early Period
HTC entered the VR space in 2016, being the first to field a PC-VR headset. Much of this lead was achieved by the licensing and partnership with Valve. This relationship fostered in the ashes of Valve’s abandoned involvement with Oculus. This after the controversial loaning of the famous Valve ‘VR Room’ proof of concept that defined the fundamentals of tracking, strong immersive display, and comprehensive controllers. Much of the lessons taught by the ‘VR Room’, would lead to the creation of Lighthouse tracking infrastructure, a mainstay of the platform. Allowing the HTC Vive to offer room-scale VR while others initially offered seated only VR.
Selling at first to prosumers and commercial buyers, it was obvious that VR had drawing appeal, and while complicated hardware, the interest to use Vive systems in promotional work, as Pop-Up installations, allowing an audience to experience immersion that would normally be out of their price point. HTC working with many corporations to create deployable pop-up promotional experiences, such as the 2016 ‘Fantasy Forest VR Experience’ in partnership with Walt Disney and a promotional tool for their new Jungle Book properties.
The Asian focus of the Taiwanese corporation has seen HTC partner with many companies in this territory. Regarding LBE development, HTC would sign a partnership with Chinese based LEKE VR. The company had already penetrated the VR amusement scene selling several of their unique VR platforms, and with the partnership with HTC could represent their VR headsets into the market, with LEKE VR getting early access to the new HTC VIVE Pro. This business approach would go on to feed HTC’s aspirations in this sector.
Taking the basic idea of the pop-up installation and placing experiences in a dedicated showroom environment led to HTC devising the creation of their own entertainment facility. Under the VIiveport Arcade brand, the company opened several Taiwanese based VR arcades, acting both as a showroom of HTC hardware, but also offering VR game experiences that the audience could try. The company would continue to invest in a facility style approach to the deployment of their hardware, and would even open HTC VIVELAND, with more attractions created by third-party developers on the hardware.
It was more than obvious the high price of VR technology and the skill set needed to effectively field this hardware that there would be an opportunity for commercial entertainment centres to operate as VR arcades. The hardware of choice would become the HTC Vive in the West, and one of the first to effectively roll out a chain of facilities was CTRL-V in Canada. Their first facility in 2016 would be located near the University of Waterloo campus and would set the model. With 16-stations for players to try out the latest VR experiences on the HTC Vive from a custom library of VR content. From this first facility, the company would go on to roll out a chain of some 10 facilities across the territory and be a popular model of excellence in VR arcades that others emulate. Proving the draw of a pay-to-play model for VR entertainment.
Regarding Western LBE VR applications, one of the first to gain traction in 2016 was from Virtuix, forming a joint venture with Hero Entertainment to create Crisis Action – using the Omni-directional treadmill, players could compete in the hectic shooter, that used HTC Vive headsets. This concept would solidify and be relaunched as the standalone ‘OMNI Arena’ system that has seen a strong penetration into the amusement facility scene and is supported by a thriving eSports championship business.
More unusual applications of VR hardware have been in the deployment for visitor attractions, using the immersive experience to entertain the gathered audience. One of the early examples was the Sky Circus Sunshine, located on the observation deck of the Tokyo landmark, several VR experiences simulated heart-pounding aerial exploits some 700 feet in the air from the towering structure. Including being launched from a cannon, or riding an immense swing. Deployed using the HTC headset, content developed by specialists Hashilus, who would go on to create other innovative pop-up entertainment installations in VR.
The deployment of VR as more of an attraction would not be seen until the launch by Merlin Entertainment of ‘Derren Brown’s Ghost Train’ at Thorp Park. A unique attraction married VR experiences interspersed around a ghost train application. Some 14 passengers transported from a tube train through numerous environments including digital and grand scale illusions. The attraction, VR elements developed by Figment Productions, first launched in 2016 would see several revisions to address issues, and would prove a mixed bag with audiences, but paved the way for the deployment of VR, and in particularly HTC Vive headsets in large audience configurations. Opening the door to other VR attractions that would follow.
The landscape to establishing LBE VR has been littered with many failures, and projects such as the IMAX VR arcade and Hub Zero as some of the more notorious false steps, but there has also been an incredibly successful and lucrative business in supporting the LBE VR scene for HTC, an aspect of their business not only involving unit sales of the Vive but also support and maintenance and an extensive software and firmware support infrastructure.
The amusement trade would see arguably some of the greatest penetration of VR hardware in an entertainment format, with key leading developers selling in the hundreds of VR amusement variants, and establishing a new genre of product.
One of the first to investigate the possibilities of VR for amusement would be Bandai Namco, after initial investment, the corporation set up an offshoot of its amusement GM operation, to specialize in VR development called “Project-i-Can”. The group would go on to create several formative VR entertainments that were fusions of popular amusement genres married to VR hardware based on the HTC Vive. The experiences would be placed in their own unique location-based venue named VR ZONE, with several sites, including a flagship location opened. VR ZONE Portals would offer pop-up opportunities for players outside of Japan to experience the delights. And Bandai Namco would even partner with Nintendo to create a VR interpretation of Mario Kart.
Along with more conventional applications of amusement VR hybrids, Bandai Namco would also broach into the realm of free-roaming VR experiences. The company developed several attractions that looked at PC backpack Arena Scale experiences. But one of the most notable being their partnership with Square-ENIX towards creating a four-player free-roaming attraction based on the popular fantasy title with Dragon Quest VR. An innovative multi-player adaptation, with the deployment of advance haptic feedback game interfaces based on the key roles of the players’ characters.
This concludes the first part of this two-part feature on the anniversary of HTC’s investment into location-based entertainment. The second part will look at the continuing legacy and reveal some of the plans for the future of this vital entertainment sector.
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