• The Biggest PSVR Releases Of The Week 08/12/18
    The Biggest PSVR Releases Of The Week 08/12/18

    We’re spinning our wheels figuratively and literally this week. We’re counting down the days until Firewall, Bow to Blood and Torn all hit PSVR at the end of August but, until then, there is a pretty interesting new vehicular combat game to try out. Vehicular combat. That’s fun to say, isn’t it?

    Anyways, here we go.

    Domino Craft VR, from Shanghai Lusion Computer Software
    Price: $9.99

    Okay, we’ll level with you; this probably isn’t the most exciting VR game you’re ever going to play. It is indeed about stacking and then watching dominoes fall. But, yeah, if you’re like me and you used to get a kick out of watching bricks be knocked over in an oh-so-satisfying fashion, then you might find something to like here. User-generated content and a challenge mode will at least flesh it out.

    Vroom Kaboom, from Ratloop Games
    Price: $19.99 or Free-to-Play

    This is a little different. Vroom Kaboom is a vehicular combat game in which you summon cars, motorbikes and more from a selection of cards and then send them to do battle against the enemy’s base. VR support is entirely optional but it comes with motion controller support and actually looks like a fair bit of fun. The games bigger multiplayer modes don’t work in PSVR, though.

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  • Take A Guided VR Tour Of Germany’s Last Industrial Coal Mine

    Photogrammetry and volumetric VR preserve every detail of this historic mining operation in Ruhr, Germany. Available for free via SteamVR, the Realities VR experience takes users on a variety of photorealistic virtual tours through some of the most astonishing locations on Earth. On top of the apps well-curated catalogue, a regular stream of free DLC

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  • Nothing to be Written Shows Why VR Needs To Broaden Its Depiction Of War
    Nothing to be Written Shows Why VR Needs To Broaden Its Depiction Of War

    In the early days of World War 1, as trench life started to settle in, British soldiers would kill a few minutes of the long stretches between combat by writing home to friends and family. They did so in the millions. To deal with the overwhelming demand, the UK’s General Post Office established an enormous sorting office in London’s Regent’s Park by the end of 1914. It was a maze of stacked sacks, piled on top of each other and stretching out as far as the eye can see, like some sort of forgotten administration room in Hogwarts.

    The meeting room of 59 Productions looks like a miniature version of that scene when I walk in to see its latest VR experience, Nothing to be Written. Sprawled across the table are several real letters from soldiers, some of which still bare the pencil markings from where locations and other information was censored out over 100 years ago. But there’s another type of message on the table, too. They look like multi-choice postcards, with several printed statements like “I am quite well” and “I have received your parcel” listed. Soldiers only had to highlight what was relevant to them, then send the card on its way. They were called field postcards.

    “At first these look really sinister,” 59 Director Lysander Ashton explains as we sift through a pile of them. “But soldiers loved them. You could send letters but they would have to be censored. These would bypass the censor office and get back home within two days, so it was actually a very immediate way of communicating.”

    It’s these cards, and the idea of a story behind every automated letter, that form the foundation of Nothing to be Written, a companion piece of sorts to the second movement of a new choral score from composer Anna Meredith, created in collaboration with the BBC as part of the ongoing Prom season. It’s a VR war experience unlike anything you’ve yet seen, trading bullets and bangs for a deeper look at the real lives involved in an unspeakable tragedy. Music from the piece flows throughout as you’re taken on a seven-minute journey that bridges the gap between the frontlines and a card’s final destination through the letterbox of a loved one.

    Tonally, the piece is one of the most striking and overwhelming explorations of war in VR I’ve yet seen. It whisks you away from the stuffy confines of the sorting office over to trenches and hospital beds, interchanging the front doors of British homes as cards begin to pile up and eventually bleeding these contrasting settings into each other to supernatural effect. “One thing that’s really interesting in VR is the idea of locations being on top of each other,” Ashton says. “Firstly you’re in one location, you’re in the trench in VR but you’re also here

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  • The Unknown Patient Is A True War Story Brought To Life In VR
    The Unknown Patient Is A True War Story Brought To Life In VR

    A new VR series from Unwritten Endings and VRTOV promises to dive into the deeper effects of war by retelling a true story.

    Directed by Michael Beets, The Unknown Patient tells the story of an Australian man found in the streets of London wearing a soldier’s uniform during the first World War. Seemingly suffering from amnesia, he had no recollection of who he was and how he came to be in London and was thus deemed unfit for service before being shipped back to the Callan Mental Asylum in Sydney.

    The VR experience joins this character in that asylum, where he spent a staggering 12 years not knowing who he really was. Over the course of several episodes, you’ll discover the journey he took to regain his past and also dive into some of the shocking memories he retains of his time in the war. The piece is produced by Katy Morrison, who also worked on VR projects like The Turning Forest and Easter Rising: Voice of a Rebel.

    To create the piece, Beets filmed actors including Lily Sullivan (Picnic At Hanging Rock, Romper Stomper), Felicity Steel (Predestination, Offspring) and Michael Robinson in full mocap suits, with their performances being virtualized in real-time. It’s also an interactive piece, at times asking viewers to react to their environment. We’ll be really interested to see how it turns out.

    The first episode of The Unknown Patient is set to debut at the Venice Film Festival at the end of the month along with a number of other VR projects.

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  • How NVIDIA’s New RTX Series Changes The Future of XR
    How NVIDIA’s New RTX Series Changes The Future of XR

    I have spent a good portion of my life as a PC gamer and tracking the latest graphics technologies. At one point I became such a fan of graphics cards that I even worked for EVGA. But as an analyst, my job is to understand and interpret events and product announcements and capabilities that will ultimately impact the industries that I cover. During SIGGRAPH 2018, NVIDIA made a series of major announcements that will have a huge impact on the graphics industry in many different ways. Here’s a breakdown of how big these changes will be for the XR industry.


    NVIDIA is introducing a completely new architecture that they are calling Turing with the new RTX series. NVIDIA’s naming scheme is all about famous scientists starting with Tesla, Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Volta and, now, Turing. While we don’t know all the architectural details about Turing quite yet, we do know quite a bit.

    The crowning feature of the new Quadro RTX series using the new Turing GPU architecture is the ability to do real-time ray tracing with a single GPU for the first time ever. Previously, it took an entire server farm to accomplish this and only earlier this year NVIDIA showed it off running on two Tesla V100 cards that cost $12,000 each. The new Quadro RTX series are professional workstation cards, and NVIDIA showed the Quadro RTX 6000 running real-time ray tracing on a card that costs only a few thousand dollars.

    Real-time ray tracing

    Real-time ray tracing on lower cost graphics cards means that we may be able to bring photorealistic graphics to virtually any medium and, if we bring ray-traced graphics into XR environments, you can easily port content from one platform to another without having to worry about the loss of quality.

    Long term, NVIDIA’s push towards real-time ray tracing will help to not only bring video games to the next level of realism but also make content even more cross-platform than it ever has been before. You will be able to make one asset for a movie and re-use that asset in a game, a VR experience and a TV commercial and that will mean the quality of content and cost of producing it should, in theory, come down.

    VirtualLink Connector

    NVIDIA’s Turing architecture and Quadro RTX cards are the first GPUs to ship with the new VirtualLink connector, which will further simplify VR usage with a single cable for power, video, and data.

    NVIDIA’s aggressiveness with implementing the standard so quickly after announcing it tells you about their seriousness around supporting VR and AR. I believe the VirtualLink connector is a very big deal and that we will see NVIDIA using the connector in most of their GPUs moving forward, including the expected consumer Turing cards that are being teased by the company.

    NVIDIA is creating a GPU that will allow both game developers and users to enjoy the benefits of ray tracing while still experiencing great performance and visuals. Ultimately, I believe NVIDIA’s decision to create the Turing architecture and

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  • Firewall Devs On DLC: ‘This Is Not A Release And Forget Game For Us’
    Firewall Devs On DLC: ‘This Is Not A Release And Forget Game For Us’

    Earlier this week we had the chance to go hands-on with the final, release build of PSVR-exclusive shooter, Firewall: Zero Hour from First Contact Entertainment. In our final pre-launch impressions article we spent a lot of time analyzing the game’s balance, the various maps, and detailing how customization options work. You can read all of that here and find our full rundown of everything you need to know about the title here.

    During that event we also got the chance to speak with Hess Barber, President & CEO at First Contact Entertainment and Game Director Damoun Shabestari. We talked about the game’s upcoming launch, reception to the title thus far, as well as post-launch support in the form of potential other game modes and other types of prospective DLC.

    Right now Firewall only has one single game mode for the main 4v4 PvP multiplayer offering: Contracts. Equal teams of 4 are separated into Attacking and Defending where the attackers must hack a firewall access point and then gather intel from a laptop, whereas the defenders must prevent the intel from being captured by lasting until the timer runs out (5 minutes) or killing all attackers.

    That’s the only game mode other than Solo and Co-Op training, so obviously one of the main burning questions is what about other modes? Team Deathmatch? Capture the Flag? More co-op offerings?

    “We’ve definitely talked about all that, but the obvious reason not to do that right now is the player base,” said Barber. “Even if it’s as big as it could be, it’s still gonna be smaller than a normal PS4 game so we don’t want to have multiple game modes spread out and chopping up the player base. Once we see what happens with the players and if there is a good, consistent player base, and it keeps rising, plus DLC, and people keep coming to it, then we’ll release those game modes so we don’t chop up players as much.”

    The reasoning makes sense, but it’s still a big want from the community and the game’s not even out yet. Alternative options such as offering a single playlist that cycles game modes (similar to Overwatch) or having timed event for special game modes, like a weekend special for double XP in Team  Deathmatch, then it’s gone, or something do exist. But time will tell if that sort of thing is implemented.

    “We’ve discussed all kinds of game modes and we’ve tried internally since a lot of people naturally play all shooters like a team deathmatch and then adapt to a more tactical style,” said Barber. “So a mode like that is very, very different and it does work and it’s fun, but we just don’t want to split people up. There’s also the immersion factor when you don’t respawn and bullets are hitting all around you and you can feel the pressure and the need to pull back and duck and survive.

    “One of the modes we’ve thought of is a hardcore mode where there is no wrist map

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  • Be The Hero Is A Super-Powered VR Game Releasing Next Week
    Be The Hero Is A Super-Powered VR Game Releasing Next Week

    Another chance to step into the shoes of a superhero is coming to VR headsets next week.

    EXPVR is set to launch its energetic action game, Be The Hero, on August 24th via Steam Early Access with support for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Windows VR headsets. The studio recently released a new mixed reality trailer for the game, seen below, in which you take on the role of a ninja with super speed and an electric sword that makes short work on the legions of enemies that surround you.

    The game utilizes what EXPVR calls ‘fluid combat locomotion’, which seems to mash different mechanics like wall-climbing to give you various ways to get around large environments. EXPVR is promising massive boss battles, one of which makes an appearance in the footage. We particularly like that you get to unsheath your sword from its cover and then have to hold onto that cover as you fight.

    It looks a little scrappy, but we’re hoping Be The Hero has some solid ideas that at least make it a less repetitive experience than Marvel: Powers United VR.

    The Early Access release is going to come with the first level of the story mode and a stage for a score attack mode. It should have about an hour of content to explore for now, with new stages, weapons and modes coming later down the line. Right now EXPVR expects Early Access to last around six to nine months, though these things have a tendency to last longer than expected.

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  • Insomniac And Oculus To Host Public Demo Session For Stormland At PAX
    Insomniac And Oculus To Host Public Demo Session For Stormland At PAX

    If you’re attending PAX West later this month or happen to live in and around Seattle, WA then consider yourself one of the lucky few that will have the first-ever hands-on opportunity with Insomniac’s upcoming fourth Oculus Rift exclusive, Stormland. Oculus will be hosting demos only on August 31st as a one-time pop-up event with limited swag available.

    For those interested, check out the event page on Facebook — it’s being held at 1927 3rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 from 11AM PT – 9PM PT. That’s a huge block of time, so hopefully you’ll be able to get in if you want. The demos are totally open to the public meaning you do not need a PAX West badge in order to play the game.

    This will be the first time anyone outside of either company is getting the chance to go hands-on with the game. In Stormland you play as a robot in an ever-changing world that’s engulfed in a constantly swirling and always changing massive storm. Every so often the storm shuffles the world, changes the environment, and resets everything — which lends itself very well to a dynamic, evolving game space.

    Stormland is also a cooperative action game with full locomotion, climbing, flying, and a tremendously ambitious sense of freedom in movement. You can read more details about Insomniac’s vision for the game in our detailed feature from earlier this year. Watch more gameplay here.

    Let us know what you think of the game and if you plan on attending down in the comments below!

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  • MLB Holds First ‘Home Run Derby VR Little League Challenge’

    ESPN3 broadcasted New England’s victory against Japan live in Little League International’s first ever virtual home run derby tournament. ESPN3 was the channel to watch yesterday as Major League Baseball debuted its inaugural Home Run Derby VR Little League Challenge, a bold new tournament that brought together 16 teams from across the world for a

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  • Rec Room Livestream: Laser Tag, Rec Royale, And More
    Rec Room Livestream: Laser Tag, Rec Royale, And More

    For today’s livestream we’re jumping into Rec Room — it’s been a while since we visited this free social VR application. Among its recent updates, including a battle royale game mode, there has been a new laser tag map, new Quests, and lots of custom rooms that community members have made. There is even a non-VR version in beta currently!

    During the stream I’ll likely be joined by Ian Hamilton from UploadVR for some of the fun as we try out a bunch of different content and see what people are up to. The plan is to mostly focus on Laser Tag and Rec Royale but we’ll see where the most active players are located.

    We’ll be livestreaming Rec Room today on HTC Vive and monitoring chat using OVRdrop while in VR. The stream will be starting soon at approximately 2:00 PM PT and we’ll aim to last for about an hour or so. We’ll be livestreaming directly to the UploadVR Facebook page. You can see the full stream embedded right here down below once it’s up:

    Embedded livestream coming soon

    You can see our archived streams all in this one handy Livestream playlist over on the official UploadVR YouTube channel (which you should totally subscribe to by the way). All future and current streams will be on Facebook, which you can see a list of here.

    Let us know which games you want us to livestream next and what you want to see us do, specifically, in Rec Room or other VR games. Comment with feedback down below!

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  • Oculus Rift Now Compatible With Viveport & Viveport Subscription

    Starting today, developers can display their Viveport titles as Rift-compatible, with full consumer support starting September 4th. With nearly 500 VR experiences occupying their well-curated catalogue, Viveport’s game subscription service is a fantastic option for any new headset owner looking to dive head-first into the virtual scene. Now the $8.99 per month service is extending

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  • Hands-On: Mario Kart VR Is Entirely Worth The Wait
    Hands-On: Mario Kart VR Is Entirely Worth The Wait

    Take my advice: savor the opening minute of Mario Kart VR before your race actually starts because it’s the only time you’ll get to properly soak in the Mushroom Kingdom in all of its virtual glory. Twist your head around to see Peach or Luigi staring back at you, admire the iconic Question Blocks off to one side, and make sure to check out your own body, especially if you have Mario’s stubby legs (seriously, how does he jump that high with those?) This really is Nintendo’s beloved world brought to life and a real pinch-me moment.

    Then sit back, strap in, and prepare to race.

    We’ve been waiting a long, long time to give Mario Kart VR a go for ourselves and, much to our relief, it was entirely worth it. Now available at the Hollywood Bowl in London’s O2 Arena and coming soon to locations in Leeds and Tunbridge Wells in the UK (sorry, US readers!), Nintendo’s sort-of VR debut offers three minutes of the kind of fanboy heaven many people have dreamed about since booting up any one of many Mario Kart games since 1992’s original Super Mario Kart.

    With just one lap available per play, your time in this lovingly-crafted world is going to be limited, and the creators at Bandai Namco makes sure that you spend it wisely. To that end, it largely crafts the experience for you. Mario Kart VR isn’t about winning, it’s about experiencing; there’s no kart customization and no difference between which of the four characters you end up playing as (Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, or Peach.)

    Drifting around corners is also out in favor of a much simpler control scheme, and the usual assortment of weapons is reduced down to a green shell, banana peel, and hammer. It’s an undoubtedly condensed experience, and quite different to the Mario Kart you know and love, but what it lacks in depth longevity, it makes up for with pure childish delight.

    It’s also more dodgem’s than racer, as the only say you really have in getting first place is whacking friends with power-ups, and even then they’re given plenty of opportunities to recover. I also ran through the track three times and, on each go, the AI-controlled Bowser and Wario seemed to overtake me at the exact same moments.

    There’s a sense you’re being pulled along by a piece of string rather than really putting your foot down, then, but it’s all too giddy to really matter. There’s just one track which plays out like a sort of greatest hits of the series, taking you from the vibrant surroundings of Peach’s Castle into its inner bowels and beyond. The visuals are so true to the series’ cartoonish palette that I almost wanted to crawl around each and every corner just to take it all in, especially when I found myself ducking out of the way of giant Bullet Bills or swerving around Piranha Plants, which I suspect are individually synchronized to make sure everyone enjoys the spectacle.

    Despite being in the

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  • Why You Won’t See Our Firewall: Zero Hour Review At Launch
    Why You Won’t See Our Firewall: Zero Hour Review At Launch

    Firewall: Zero Hour, easily one of the most anticipated VR games of this year, is just a few weeks away now. The game launches in the US on August 28th, but you won’t see our review before then. Why’s that?

    While it may usually be the case that a game’s developer or publisher has set a review embargo maybe a day ahead of launch, in this instance we know that developer First Contact Entertainment won’t actually be sending out review code until the big day. It recently said as much in an online blog.

    The reason for this, First Contact says, is to avoid having press waiting long stretches of time trying to find games when there simply aren’t that many people playing. “By waiting until servers are fully populated, reviewers will get the full intended experience – representative of the social, collaborative and competitive thrills you can only get by playing with real people,” the team wrote.

    Firewall does offer a small single-player mode, though the game is largely intended to be played online, pitting teams of four against each other in attack and defend-style missions.

    You probably won’t see our Firewall review on August 28th, then, but we’ll try and get you some comprehensive impressions as soon as humanly possible. We have, however, just got another lengthy hands-on session with the game at an event.

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  • Evasion’s Full Version Launches In October On PSVR, Rift And Vive
    Evasion’s Full Version Launches In October On PSVR, Rift And Vive

    One last big piece of PSVR news today; Archiact’s Evasion is very close to release.

    The first-person shooter, which is also coming to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, will arrive on October 9th. Sony announced the news on its PlayStation Blog, though the game’s Steam page also confirms the same date for the PC VR version.

    Archiact describes Evasion as a bullet hell sci-fi shooter, meaning you’ll be doing a lot of dodging (or, yes, evading) as you unleash a barrage of bullets on an alien planet. It packs a full campaign that can be played either in single-player or with up to three other friends. There’s a survival mode thrown in too, because this is a VR game.

    On PSVR the game is set to arrive with full support for the headset’s Aim controller. Pre-orders for the game should be up on the PlayStation Store later today.

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  • Firewall: Zero Hour – Final Hands-On Preview With The Release Build
    Firewall: Zero Hour – Final Hands-On Preview With The Release Build

    Firewall: Zero Hour is less than two weeks away and yesterday Sony hosted a final pre-launch press preview session at their San Mateo headquarters. At the event we were able to go hands-on over the course of four hours with the final release build version of the game across competitive Contracts mode, co-op, and even solo training mode. For the first time ever we also got hands-on time with the game using just a standard DualShock 4.

    During our demo every contractor, gun, perk, attachment, camo skin, and everything else was unlocked for tinkering with over a million in-game credits and fully leveled up content to explore — and we spent a lot of time digging into everything.

    For those unaware, Firewall: Zero Hour is a first-person tactical, team-based competitive shooter in development by First Contact Entertainment exclusively for Sony’s PSVR. You can read our giant info dump right here if you want more nitty gritty details, but basically imagine Rainbow Six and Onward had a baby and you’re pretty close to understanding how this game works.

    Technically there are three ways to play: solo, co-op, or full 4v4 PvP in the Contracts mode. Both Solo and Co-Op are considered “Training” missions and award far less XP and in-game credits. You’ll use the credits to unlock new guns, attachments, cosmetic alterations, and perk slots.

    Since Firewall is primarily a multiplayer game that’s heavily focused on 4v4 matches, teamwork is crucial. Luckily every single PSVR has a mic built into it because you’re gonna be encouraged to communicate often while playing this one.

    At my preview session there was a good mixture of people like myself that had played the game before (here and here) as well as people that were new to the game or new to VR in general. After a few matches you could hardly tell the difference. We were playing on the final “release” build of the game, which means this is the “gone gold” version that was likely already shipped out to retailers.

    The main new things we got to try at this latest preview event were the full selection of maps, character customization, and for the first time ever trying it with a DualShock gamepad instead of just PS Aim.

    So, technically, as explained you can play with either the DualShock 4 controller or the PS Aim, but after trying both I can say that I vastly prefer playing with the PS Aim. The DualShock 4 controls are similar to in Farpoint, meaning you need to physically point and aim the light bar on your controller, but it just feels a bit odd waving a gamepad around. I got used to it, but aiming a plastic rifle was way more natural.

    There are nine total maps in Firewall: Zero Hour and up until yesterday I’d only seen three of them. All in all there’s honestly a good assortment of options. Some are incredibly small with lots of tight spaces, like Shoot House, which is basically just a plywood shooting range full of small

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