The virtual reality revolution is upon us -- finally. After years of hype and development, three consumer VR headset models are scheduled to hit shelves this spring. Industry watchers are treating it all as a Very Big Deal, indeed. Virtual reality films and educational titles will open up entire new vistas of experience, but the first wave of VR goodness will come in the form of immersive video games.
Here we take a look at ten of the most anticipated games en route for the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the Vive headsets. The sci-fi adventure game Pollen, pictured above, is one of many multi-platform games designed to manipulate time and space by putting players in a richly detailed, 360-degree virtual world.
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The spaceship dogfight shooter EVE: Valkyrie will come bundled with both the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR headsets, and is likely to be most players' first introduction to virtual reality gaming. Advance word on the title, which supports team-based mutliplayer combat, is white hot.
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Created by marquee developer Epic Games ("Gears of War"), Bullet Train uses a hand-mirroring design to accommodate two-fisted firing with Rift's motion controllers. Check out the frenetic demo video to get a sense of Epic's VR update to the classic first person shooter (FPS) genre.
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In the space game Adr1ft, players assume the role of an astronaut in peril, exploring the wreckage of an orbital station in a damaged EVA suit. Developers are describing Adr1ft as a First Person Experience (FPX) game, with combat and violence replaced by exploration and puzzle solving.
Sports simulations are expected to be a popular genre in virtual reality -- it's all the fun, minus the ligament damage. VR Sports Challenge will let players participate in hockey, football, basketball and baseball from an immersive first-person perspective. Rather than play through entire games, players will be dropped into short scenarios -- like defending the goal in hockey.
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In terms of daydream scenarios, being a rock star is right up there with sports heroics for armchair gamers. At least, that's what developer Harmonix is hoping. Just last month, the company announced that its popular Rock Band franchise will be moving to the realm of virtual reality sometime this year.
With World War Toons, game designers aim to create a looney, 'tooney alternative to ultra-realistic combat games. Check out the very funny promotional video to get a sense of the vibe. These guys know their Bugs Bunny, clearly.
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One of the first games to support early iterations of the Oculus Rift code, Alien Isolation was released for PC and consoles back in 2014. Sega hasn't confirmed that a full VR version will be released, but that's the rumor, and the game's suspenseful, atmospheric gameplay is a perfect fit for virtual reality terror.
As the VR game market expands, you can expect some inspired goofiness, as well. The delightfully weird Surgeon Simulator line of games will migrate to virtual reality in 2016 with a new title featuring, um, alien autopsies on Mars. Guitar heroics, rock climbing, orbital surgery? This is going to be fun.