Many people are still on the fence about virtual reality, but those who have experienced it in-depth can see that it opens up a whole new dimension in gaming. In terms of immersion, it is unparalleled. Virtual reality legitimately lifts you up off your couch and drops you into the gaming world with nothing between you and the game.
VR really feels like it has breathed new life into many well known older games, too. From Doom 3 to Borderlands 2 to Tetris and even Skyrim, almost anything can work in virtual reality as long as the people behind it know what they are doing.
Here are six older game franchises that deserve to find new life in virtual reality.
1. Far Cry 3
First off, I mean a direct port of Far Cry 3 and not the recent Far Cry VR game that has been seen at various VR arcades:
Far Cry 3 is not only arguably the best game in a great series, but one of the best FPS games ever made. It is pure chaotic fun as you watch the main character turn from a regular bro into a *ahem* Ram-br0, and experiencing that whole romp around the tropics in VR would be a sight to behold.
From the hectic driving scenes to the wingsuit and insane interactions with Vas (one of the best game villains ever) – all these scenes would feel irresistible in VR. Add to that how fast-paced the combat and overall game is, and you realize this game would stand out with the immersion of VR added.
With the launch of the Far Cry VR arcade game, it looks more likely that we’ll get that version rather than the fully-fledged game. But many of us VR heads are still holding out hope.
I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I would argue that Bioshock would be nothing short of remarkable in VR. And even though there may be some Half-Life-Alyx mods that mimic Bioshock, oddly enough, we have yet to get an actual VR port of this series. So why would Bioshock make the perfect VR game?
Because Rapture (the undersea civilization where the game takes place) is one of the most well thought out and perfectly designed game worlds ever. It’s beautiful too, with its 20s Deco style manifesting in those gaudy-golden pillars and towers, and sharp lines everywhere that make it such an impressive but unwelcoming space.
Then you have the “would you kindly” twist people still talk about, Bioshock has had long lasting impact on the gaming world. The thought of actually putting on the virtual reality helmet and walking through Rapture while avoiding Big Daddy’s would be a jaw-dropping experience.
And if games like Borderlands 2 and Doom 3 can convert perfectly to VR, you know Bioshock could as well, submerging us in one of the most impressive, oppressive spaces in the medium.
3. GTA V
The thinking behind this one is simple: with Rockstar re-releasing this game every three years on 96 different platforms, there has been one key change made to this game which proves it would smash it in VR.
The first person perspective.
Once people saw how smoothly GTA V played in FPS mode on PS4, gamers started wondering and dreaming if this game could be ported over to virtual reality. If they made it for PSVR, it could take a slight technical hit, but would you really care if you could drive around Los Santos, peeping out CJ’s old Grove Street hood from San Andreas if you like!
Beyond all that, think about how adrenaline-inducing one of the heists from GTA V would be if you were in a first person virtual reality version of the game? Trying to outrun the four-star crime rating while actually navigating those streets in first-person would be like us living out our very own Martin Scorsese movie.
It’s worth adding that VR modding legend LukeRoss00 has made a great VR mod for GTA V, and is working on Red Dead Redemption 2 VR, among other games. You can grab the GTA V R.E.A.L. mod here, or support him on Patreon for early access to the Red Dead Redemption 2 VR mod, among other goodies!
4. House of the Dead
For those who don’t know, House of the Dead is an older Sega series that used a light gun (think Duck Hunt) and had you blasting the faces off all sort of horror influenced creatures, from zombies to vampires. No arcade in the late 90s or early 2000s was complete without it.
It was decent at the time and had quite a few entries in the series. The problem was, this game was on-rails, meaning it was like a ride, you just rode it and shot at things. But if they took this game off the rails (aka gave you freedom of movement), updated the graphics, and put it into VR, it would be like being in a grindhouse movie you could experience.
The games get very hectic, with creatures leaping out of the shadows and attacking you while bats swoop down and mutated monkey men throwing flaming barrels at you. It’s madness, and now imagine it 360 degrees around you, with you spinning to blast creatures while ducking and blasting more creatures. Make it happen!
5. Mirror’s Edge
Mirror’s Edge was a very unique game. An FPS that sort of took the S out of the equation. It was basically a master parkour simulator, with you running to ledges of massive buildings and leaping off, only to snatch another ledge and pull yourself up to do it all over again.
The whole game takes place across a series of roofs and some interiors, and the name of the game is “never stop moving”. While this gameplay loop was fun on a flat screen, few games deserve a virtual reality port more than this game. Simply because this kind of gameplay would feel incredibly tense and scary with the immersion of VR. Height represents itself really realistically in VR, as you can see here:
So think of it like this:
The best part of watching your friends play the hypothetical Mirror’s Edge in VR would be losing your sh*t hearing them scream in real life whenever they miss a ledge in the game and free fall to their death.
And we should address the elephant in the room. VR can cause motion sickness for some people, and heights can add to that. Thankfully, a great many games have measures in place to prevent that (like a blink mode and a teleport mode). Leaping between rooftops (and sometimes falling from them) could turn into what we VR heads call a vomit comet.
But with that caveat out the way, the gameplay itself would make you feel like a fleet-footed badass, leaping from building to building with reckless abandon.
6. Silent Hill 2
We don’t usually associate the third-person perspective with VR, but there are quite a few games out there that have dallied with it to great effect. Chronos, Astro Bot, even the excellent Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice…
So to answer the unasked question: Yes, VR works really well with third person perspective games, with the world living and breathing around you in 360 degrees. With that out of the way, I can’t even wrap my brain around how well this would work for the Silent Hill 2, specifically.
The Silent Hill series has so much choking atmosphere, you sometimes need to step away from the game to catch your breath. It’s a world in-between worlds – a place where shadows come to life and your own worst fears try to swallow you whole. But how much more immersive would the game be if you were inside that world, navigating the fog yourself?
Horror games in VR are some of the most popular (Resident Evil 7 is yet to be topped as VR horror goes), but if Silent Hill came to VR, everyone would stand up and take note.
Just imagine peeking out at Pyramid Head from that closet in Silent Hill 2, and watching him through the slats as he shuffles by the door. Those are the kind of moments that make you forget you are even playing a game in VR. That is, by definition, immersion at its finest.
Virtual Reality has not reached its full potential yet, which means it still has years to grow. And with the growing trend for classic games to get a VR makeover (Doom 3, System Shock, Resident Evil 4, to name a few), there’s plenty of hope that the above games could be part of renaissance in VR.