Ride of the Valkyrie: The rise of VRâ€™s posterchild
J Thoendell stashed this in Oculus
But putting players into virtual cockpits isn't as simple as strapping a headset interface onto a regular space sim. To capture that feeling of the Hollywood space battle, O'Brien and the Valkyrie team actually had to unlearn some of the habits picked up from traditional, 2D game design. In your average space combat simulator, elements like a radar and a minimap are invaluable â€“ how else to spot that enemy pilot on your tail, or dodge an incoming homing missile? But in VR, if you want to see what's behind you, you just do it the old fashioned way: by craning your neck round for a look and hoping you don't blunder into an asteroid in the process.
"One of the interesting things we're finding in trying to mimic that feeling of being in a cockpit is having [players] look round to see that somebody's on their six and [figure out] how to shake them," says O'Brien. "We're actually trying to strip back the UI a bit so it feels a bit more like the original dogfighting in World War 2."
Pilots making use of the Rift will have a definite advantage over those playing Valkyrie on a TV or monitor, according to O'Brien. He won't be drawn on the details of what the Rift will allow in terms of new combat abilities (although we've heard previously that the plans include being able to lock onto enemies just by turning your head towards them, like a modernâ€“day fighter pilot) â€“ but the heightened level or perception you get from the VR headset offers a tactical edge in itself.
"People who have the Rift on will have an advantage," says O'Brien. "They can look around, they can see things, they can see things in the corners of their eyes. We are [also] implementing more innovations in the game that I can't talk about, but that do require full 360 viewing. It's a completely different way of thinking. It's like if humans only had one leg and we'd been designing games for one leg, then all of a sudden you have two. That's a terrible analogy, but you know what I mean."