Space games never really went away. But they have been on something of a comeback trail all the same. What happened to give all us neglected X-Wing fans reason to have faith once again? I'm willing to bet it has something to do with a little thing called the Oculus Rift.
I mean, the gadget is still squarely in the prototype phase of things and there are already a handful of stunning ways to experience next-generation motion sickness. EVE Valkyrie, a Rift exclusive being made by the company behind the PC classic Eve Online. Star Citizen, another stunner we got to check out recently at PAX East. And that's not even mentioning Elite Dangerous or Enemy Starfighter.
We can now add Darkfield to this fast-growing list. The VR-focused space combat game just went through a big update for its alpha version, and the tweaks have the good people over at Road To VR happier than ever with its immersive dogfighting experience.
I've had enough chances to strap on the Oculus Rift and various other VR headsets to genuinely believe all the hype about the emerging tech. And space combat games, much like games involving giant mechs brutalising one another, make perfect sense as the kinds of products that would get people especially excited about finally jacking in to the Matrix.
All that said, if I can submit one admittedly early critique, it's that I'm already having a hard time telling the difference between all these gorgeous games about killing each other in outer space. It's hard to place too much stock in pre-release material, of course. But given how incredible so much of the Rift's early work is already looking, I'd hate to see so much promise turn into yet another generation of games that are all singularly focused on delivering incrementally better versions of the same experience.
We've already had more games that I can count on both hands about killing Nazis, for instance. Are games about racing through untold regions of space just going to become the same thing for another generation of games? At least things will be a lot prettier this time around.
In my ideal world, however, space combat and giant mech-killing will settle in as the bread-and-better of virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift. It certainly beats the vague (or, often, not so vague) sketchiness of sex simulators that are predictably filling up the Oculus Rift's early development days. And once games like EVE Valkyrie and Darkfield are settled into their groove, hopefully game developers will have ample room to try out other ambitious ideas as well.