With the explosion of battle royale genre popularity, namely PUBG, the first attempts of creating a VR battle royale experience have already been made. Imagine – jumping out of an airplane, parachuting down to the ground, grabbing weapons, gear and supplies, and then killing everybody else just to stay alive. Freaking amazing, right?
The reality (not the virtual one, the real reality) hits when you figure out the number of active VR players at any given time. Let me break it down for you – it’s nowhere near Steam levels. And then there are technical roadblocks of having 100 different players interact in a single VR game. It gets tricky and complicated really fast.
Nevertheless, let’s see what we’ve got at the moment.
Of all the pre-alpha, beta, WIP VR Battle Royale games out there, Oneiric Entertainment’s Virtual Battlegrounds arguably looks and feels the best. The matches will be limited to 16 players due to aforementioned small VR playerbase, but the game has everything: jumping out of the plane, parachuting down, weapons, gear, houses, vehicles etc.
Of course, due to being in very early stages of development, you can only sign up for Alpha testing at the moment. It should be playable on both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets, with a planned release some time in 2018. The game is obviously buggy, jittery and full of glitches. However, it’s worth a shot, if none but to experience some of the PUBG thrills in VR.
Until None Remain is still heavily in the testing phase, but sign ups are still available for VR enthusiasts and battle royale aficionados. The nightly tests are reportedly fun, although we haven’t gotten around actually trying the experience ourselves. To take part you will have to sign NDA and won’t be allowed to stream, record gameplay footage and take screenshots unless explicitly allowed.
The game works on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You can sign up for beta testing here.
Bullets and More (BAM) VR Battle Royale
BAM VR’s latest beta build added a battle royale mode. The matches are limited to 12 players and the map is very flat. BAM itself is still in early access so don’t expect its BR mode to be polished and bug free.
One downside is that the game is not free. It will cost you $14.99 to get it on Steam. However, the game is getting regular updates and the developer seems quite dedicated to make the game as good of an experience as any other out there. As its battle royale mode is readily available, it might not be bad to shell a few bucks on this and hop out of the airplane into a certain death every now and then!
In virtual reality one can immerse into various environments, and not only can you engage in some activities you never could in real life like killing nazis or being Batman, but also in some simple everyday life activities, like tourism or meditation using your VR device.
The great advantage of virtual-reality is that it provides a safe way to experience something that you may find too dangerous to tackle in real life. This makes VR a perfect place for facing your fears in a controlled environment, like fear of heights for example.
A company named Revresh made a rig that, in symbiosis with the Oculus Rift game, makes a realistic parachute simulation – Para Parachute, so who knows, in future we may be training astronauts before their space walks in virtual reality. Until then, these are the top heights VR experiences currently available.
Richie’s Plank Experience
Richie’s Plank Experience is a short demo game designed as a VR showcase for first time users. You enter the elevator, go to the 80th floor of the building, and then you can walk to the end of Richie’s plank, if you dare!
Besides walking the plank, in this game you can fly around the city using your motion controllers, and be a superhero that extinguishes raging fires. Additionally, you can use your rocket hands as a paintbrush and the sky as a canvas, making Richie’s Plank Experience also a sky writing simulation.
The Climb is a first-person rock climbing simulation from Crytek which will provide a realistic cliff-hanging experience. The Climb is an Oculus Rift exclusive, is regularly updated and supports Oculus Touch controllers. This is hands down one of the best looking games you can play in virtual reality.
Besides a truly impressive heights experience in VR it offers, The Climb has few probable side-effects. A player may suffer of vertigo, but most likely strained neck too! Game mechanics dictate that have to turn your head around constantly in order to find a suitable grip, therefore after longer gaming sessions this can even cause chronic neck pain. Stay safe!
The Walk VR Film
This isn’t a game but a digital recreation of The Walk movie’s climax scene from 2015. You step into the shoes of Philippe Petit, who walks the tight rope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The short VR film is available for both Android and iOS phones and is completely free.
While title ‘The Walk’ may lead you to think you are in for a calm and soothing experience, instead you start off looking at a steel beam leading to a tightrope, stretching over 1300 feet above the New York City. At first you will probably appreciate the stunning view of the surroundings, but as you start walking along the rope, looking down takes some courage, even though your feet are on a firm ground.
The urge to throw the headset away and abandon the genuine terror, may become very strong as you gaze down at the dizzying drop, but Philippe Petite had already done this amazing feat in real life back in 1974, so the least you could do is relive his experience in perfectly safe virtual-reality setting.
There’s already been considerable research done upon the effects of books and computer screens on the human eye, and it’s quite certain that reading at very close range or looking at a computer screen at very close range can be detrimental to the vision.
But how does this translate into VR?
What are the issues and potential dangers that VR poses to human vision?
Let’s go into different aspects of VR that could potentially cause damage to the vision.
Firstly, there is the fact that VR headsets put out a lot of visible light at considerable brightness.
Just how bright is VR?
It’s a well known fact that too much high energy light can actually damage the retina. However, VR screens do not put out light at these energies. We can bypass all the formulae used to calculate the luminescence of a VR display and give you a few simple analogies.
If 500 Lux (that’s the measure of intensity of light hitting a surface) represents the brightness of the average office, then 1000 Lux – which is the brightness of the average VR headset – represents the brightness of the average brightly lit supermarket.
That is certainly not damaging to the human eye.
Another aspect of VR that could be damaging to the eyes is contrast
If there are a few brightly lit areas against a dark background, what happens is that the eye responds to the darkness by opening the pupils wider to let in more light.
If the spots of brightness are very bright, then this could damage the eye.
To start with, I would suggest that you avoid apps and games in VR that contrast a lot of darkness with a few points of intensely bright light, as this is known to be bad for the eyes.
But that said, VR doesn’t pose much of an issue.
Firstly, because the intensity of the screen isn’t that bright in the first place, and secondly, because the eyes move around a lot in VR, which doesn’t allow a bright spot to focus on and damage a single point on the retina.
I would classify this as a non-hazard.
VR headsets certainly do put out blue light, but again, what damage this can cause to the eye is related to the overall brightness of the headsets, and at 1000 Lux, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
The dominant factor that could potentially cause damage when you’re using VR is duration. I say potentially, because we’ve just proved that VR is safe for the eyes. But perhaps it won’t be if you use it non-stop for twenty-four hours.
That isn’t VR causing damage – that is your abuse of your body causing damage. Your eyes can take damage whether you’re looking at a computer screen, or reading a book, or immersed in VR, if you don’t give them a rest for such long stretches.
Too much of VR – or games – or just about anything – non-stop, and you could turn into a zombie… figuratively speaking, of course.
Eye-safety and VR
It’s recommended that you take a break from VR every hour or so to focus the eyes on different perspectives, especially changing from short to long range.
For example, you could remove your headset and look around the room, and then look out of the window at a spot in the distance. This is less to change the eyes’ perspective as to relax the retina. A short nap or even closing the eyes for a few minutes can also give relief to the eye.
Does VR lead to shortsightedness?
You’ll be glad to know that it doesn’t.
As a matter of fact, the effect of VR is quite the opposite.
What people don’t realize is that the eye is not really focusing upon the screens in a VR headset.
Instead, the lenses that direct light into the eyes modify the perspective so that the eye is actually focusing on the middle distance, or even on infinity. What this in effect means is that VR, unlike books and computer screens, doesn’t induce myopia, or shortsightedness.
As a matter of fact, some studies show that VR could actually correct problems with the eyesight in many circumstances.
For example, if a short-sighted person were to start playing a game that involved long distance shooting or archery in VR, they might actually find that their eyesight tended to correct itself to a lesser or greater extent.
Distortions in the Peripheral vision
Another aspect of VR that may give cause for concern is that the lenses tend to create distortions in the peripheral vision. Since VR is still a relatively new technology, or rather, relatively new in widespread use, we don’t know how much this will impact a person’s vision in the long term.
The good news is that manufacturers are already working on correcting this using a combination of both software and hardware.
This is how the peripheral distortions are being corrected…
Generally speaking, if one institutes the opposite of the distortion in the software, it will result in a corrected image reaching the eye after it passes through the lens. When you combine this with improving the quality of the lenses themselves, you can achieve very good results for image accuracy in the peripheral vision.
So, in conclusion, how much of a threat does VR pose to your eyes?
And the answer to that is – not much at all.
The overall luminosity of the screen is well below levels that could damage your eyes, and other issues in the headset such as peripheral distortion can easily be held in check by simply taking a break from VR every hour or so.
In any case, most of the remaining issues in VR are very minor, and highly unlikely to cause permanent effects. They are also sure to be corrected in upcoming editions of VR headsets in the immediate future.
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