Virtually here: The best of E3 VR and what it means for the future of gaming

Once a trope of Sci-Fi, Virtual Reality hit 2016's E3 hard - and I'm here with virtually the best VR titles to be revealed, and the reality of gaming's future.

In case you missed E3, haven't read anything about it, haven't talked to anyone that's heard anything about it, or have lived in a damp cave for the past few weeks, here's the main message of this year's showcase: 

The future is here. 

Buried deep in the dusty pages of old paperback sci-fi novels was an era we all knew was coming some day. From Star Trek to Sword Art Online, in countless movies and TV shows, for decades we've been presented with an evolution of technology (and gaming) that was made inevitable by how badly we wanted it more than anything else. Huge headsets and glowing visors, tactile controllers and motion controls. A deeper sense of being in the games we play.

True immersion

Well, that bus has come to a complete and total stop here, ladies and gentlemen. We've arrived.  

E3 2016 has marked this as the Year of Virtual Reality. 

Pictured: The future of gaming. Or Daft Punk. It's hard to tell.

While it's certainly true VR projects have been around for a while, this year's E3 marks the first year major players in the industry seem to have fully adopted the Virtual Reality revolution. Household names from Sony to Bethesda have come out in full force to let their game developers and the fans at home know that they plan to support the budding platform.

Let's take a look at a few of the virtually limitless games and tech unveiled at this year's conference:


While two of the first giants in the ring were PC oriented with the Oculus Rift, and Valve/HTC's lovechild the Vive, veteran of the console wars Sony sent a clear message that they weren't scared to step into the VR ring. The producer of the PlayStation promised 50 playable VR titles by the 2017 release of the Virtual Reality platform (creatively titled "PlayStation VR"), and we couldn't be more excited for: 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard VR

One of the biggest things happening in non-VR related gaming right now, Resident Evil 7's "PT"-esque survival horror demo Beginning Hour has been making its rounds -- drumming up support for the creepier, more horror-bent installment that's a marked departure from the series' more recent action-oriented entries. 

And as anyone who attended or watched E3 knows, this demo (as well as Resident Evil 7 itself) is going to be a fully playable title on the PlayStation VR, running on its very own RE Engine. 

Resident Evil 7 promises to be a return to the series' horror roots, so be sure to check out this gruesome reality next January when it's released.

100ft. Robot Golf

I'm not sure that we even have to explain why this is awesome, but here it goes:

Coming in 2016 to a PlayStation VR system near you, 100ft Robot Golf is a game where you completely destroy a city as you pilot a 100 foot tall robot through a game of golf. 

Customizable playstyles and abilities? Sure. The capacity to tweak and remodel your paramilitary putt-putter? Absolutely. The ability to play as five dogs in a suit? You be-- wait what? You can do that? Yes. Apparently playing as five dogs in a suit is a thing you can do.

And if the ability to play in Virtual Reality as a team of corgis piloting a giant war robot through a Par 6 metropolis isn't your idea of the future, then yours is a future I don't want to live in. 

Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission

If there's any VR game that deserves a live orchestra playing its soundtrack at the reveal, it has to be a Star Wars title -- specifically, Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission. 

With the Virtual Reality revolution fully underway in 2016, pilots will finally be able to don their VR helmet-visors and get the full experience of "actually there piloting an X-Wing" Red (or in this case Blue) Squadron and exploding Tie Fighters for the first time.

The (Virtual) Reality of Sony's Lineup

While these are certainly some of the top-of-the-pile VR offerings, Sony's dedication to Virtual Reality doesn't stop there. The console/gaming/tech mainstay has also teased at or revealed a ton of other high profile VR releases, ranging from Batman Arkham to VR segments of Final Fantasy XV. From storybook flight game How We Soar to horror-noir title Here they Lie. They even showcased Tether, an adorable little base-building game where you order adorable creatures to do adorable daily tasks, adorably build a tiny adorable base, and adorably club monsters to a presumably adorable death. 

With such a powerful presence pledging support for the fledgling VR platform, it seems the threat of Virtual Reality being a flash in the pan is more smoke than fire. 


In what might have been the most surprising turn of events given the rather VR-centric nature of 2016's E3 conference, Microsoft was surprisingly quiet on the VR front. While nothing too overt came from their segment, Project Scorpio (frontrunner for "potential Microsoft VR system") was finally teased.

And the footage for Scorpio was a goldmine promising "Premiere VR experiences", not the least of which comes from...


If Sony brought out the big guns with the likes of Star Wars and Final Fantasy, other platforms are renting out whole battleships with two of Bethesda's hottest releases coming to VR systems. The most notable of the two, of course, are...

Fallout 4 VR

With a player base as loyal as any Dogmeat and a world known for both vastness and depth, Fallout 4 is the perfect title for the young VR platform (specifically the HTC Vive) to really let players stretch their virtual legs in the new gaming landscape. Complete with Pip-Boy functionality by raising your in-game left arm, players will soon be able to help settlements like never before -- totally immersed in and surrounded by a post-apocalyptic Wasteland.

So it's a lot like visiting New Jersey, except from the comfort of your own home once this title hits the HTC Vive mid-2017.


While initial reports vary wildly and leave readers and watchers with a very "hit and miss" verdict when it comes to Bethesda's DOOM VR demo at this E3, a lot of the "misses" are tell-tale signs that Bethesda is aware of the limitations and and differences Virtual Reality titles have when stacked against more traditional gaming systems. 

This is a good thing

By release (currently date and platform are unspecified), fans of the series, Bethesda, and Virtual Reality will all assuredly have a rock solid entry into the Virtual Reality Demon-Fragging genre, giving players a little more pace than plot in a VR title. 

What it all means

"I have absolutely no idea what most of this says."

While many of the titles shown off at this year's E3 are certainly familiar franchises, the results of this year's concerted effort to make VR a talking point by major players in the game mean more than just "a new way to play Fallout" or "another weird thing that isn't a Summon in Final Fantasy". 

This is the year where titans in the industry stepped up to a worldwide audience, showed their hand when it came to the Virtual Reality platform, and told us "Yeah, absolutely. This is happening. This is here."

It's a new, powerful way to play everything. It's a whole new avenue to explore that's both compatible with existing technology and the start of a whole new front of advancement -- and it's being embraced by people and companies with the power to make lasting impacts in the area. 

Now, sure, similar things have happened with, say, movement controls like the Wii and PlayStation Move -- but those were more alternative controllers than "entire new frontiers for immersion". A little more gimmick than "totally different ways to play games that literally puts the player in the middle of the action" -- and even then, at least one of those was a pretty heavy success. 

What it means, as fans of Virtual Reality, fans of science fiction, fans of gaming, or even just people that know fans of any of those things, is that Virtual Reality -- the awesome thing we've seen or read about for decades -- is being held onto tightly by people with the power to make or break what gaming and technology have to offer us. Virtual Reality gaming -- Virtual Reality period -- is going to happen. It's already happening.

This isn't a guy with frazzled hair standing on the corner ranting that one day we're all going to be plugged into machines with cool goggles. This isn't the plot of a Wachowskis movie, and it isn't a Star Trek episode (though Ubisoft did reveal Star Trek: Bridge Crew VR).

This is the year where titans in the industry stepped up to a worldwide audience, showed their hand when it came to the Virtual Reality platform, and told us "Yeah, absolutely. This is happening. This is here."

"The future is now."

Seriously though. Are these like alternate Oculus Rift models, or...?

Published Jun. 20th 2016
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