Aye aye folks, upon finishing up with my Masters earlier this year I decided to treat myself to a VR headset... A definite "me" purchase which at the time just didn't fall into the category of "justifiable upgrades". Sure you know what I mean, it can be easier to justify something like a CPU or GPU upgrade for your rig as the benefits can be seen across a broad suite of applications but the headset well that was just for me and just for fun.
It was an "open box" Oculus Rift S and I managed to pick it up for £299 meaning it had been returned to retail after it had been opened but there was nothing wrong with it.
Since then I have basically been playing 3 games.
Superhot, Boneworks and finally, Half Life : ALYX
The first 2 were really good experiences, I loved Superhot and plowed through that in a weekend, easing myself into VR with a game where there is no movement and time stops when you stop.
Boneworks is a different beast. Reminds me so much of the old abomination that was Jurassic Park Trespasser from the 90's but with a bit more polish and it does an amazing job of pulling you into a virtual world where it's very easy to loose yourself in despite some rough textures and floaty physics
But it has - probably unsurprisingly - been HL:Alyx which has utterly convinced me of the potential of VR.
Back in 2004 I built my first PC specifically for Half Life 2. With the help from a high school computing teacher who was into counter strike (being able to pass it off as an educational purchase and buy it VAT free through the school was a bonus too) and I remember the first time I booted up HL:2, the immersion, the awe and excitement. Ill be honest since then there have been very few gaming experiences that have came close to the feeling I got back in 2004.
With Alyx, all those feelings came back as soon as the "Valve head" logo appeared in front of my eyes.. towering in front of me, broken free from the constraints of a 2D screen. Compared to Superhot and Boneworks, this was something that I was already familiar with, I know this universe, I've heard the sounds.. but this was something new.
Instead of playing in an immersive game world, I was simply there.
I'm a few chapters into Alyx now.. scavenging through boxes, slowly exploring a City 17 that feels completely familiar but magnitudes more dangerous despite there being less enemies present than previous outings and then something happened..
A few combine had caught me off guard while I was searching for some ammo in a derelict building, I popped off a few warning shots to empty my magazine and Instinct had kicked in as soon as my gun run dry, the mag slide out of the gun as I grabbed a new one ready to face the threat... before I could get the magazine in a head-crab I hadn't clocked lunched towards me. In a panic I dropped the magazine. Now there was a threat on two fronts. quickly taking cover behind an overturned table and peering round I see the magazine.. Gravity gloves slowly pulling it over and me quickly grabbing the incoming magazine and slamming it into the gun in one action, checking my wrist to see how low my vital signs I made the decision that now was the time to strike back...
And then a tap on my shoulder... followed by an echoed voice from another realm. "are you all right"
This was when I knew how good VR could be.
I took the headset off, coming quickly to the realisation that the table I was hiding behind did not exist .. there was no real need for me to be on the floor in a semi fetal position to take pot shots at a make believe head crab...
..and the enemies which had got me in a sweat had been replaced by a concerned looking wife and a confused looking 2 year old.
Self isolation and lockdown might suck... but it is a lot easier when a whole new world is just a click away!
Feel Free to check out the F7GOS youtube channel.