Project Morpheus PlayStation VR may be the only way I ever want to play Final Fantasy XIV -- so long as they work out some of the real world kinks. At this point, most gamers have probably heard of PlayStation VR and seen what it can do. VR is nothing new. The real question is how it's utilised.
At this year's Tokyo Game Show, hands on with PlayStation VR had a mix of previously seen demos and some new candy to try out. I got a chance to sit down with Dangan Ronpa VR, Aquarion Evol, and Final Fantasy XIV.
Dangan Ronpa VR was essentially a scene from the first game converted to VR. It was a Class Trial all in 3D with characters jumping around and physically breaking or knocking each other's arguments. Mechanics-wise it wasn't anything overly innovative compared with the original game, but the 3D and full 360 view offered some neat things to look at.
Aquaion Evol, was something different from last year's experience. Where last time it was basically a movie where you could watch things as they happened around you, this time there was some more interaction with the PlayStation Move. As a pilot, I got to form the Aquarion and fire off the Infinity Punch which was fun, but somewhat short. As enjoyable as it was as a short 2-3 minute interactive demo, I wasn't sure how a full game would play or not get tedious over time.
There was an opening at the Final Fantasy XIV booth, so I decided to check that out. Watching Mike Fahey's coverage of thegame had recently convinced me to start playing -- along with a recent personal increase in interest in MMORPGs thanks to the anime, Overlord -- and after my 30 day free trial was over, I had gotten fairly used to the game as a level 19 summoner.
For the PlayStation VR demo I was given control of a level 50 Dragon Knight, which was pretty damn spiffy because fuck if I'm ever going be able actually reach that level in the actual game. I started out in an empty house. The view was in first person and the right stick was disabled as the PlayStation VR was basically filling the role of all the view controls.
Running around the house, almost immediately I encountered the first potential hitch. Characters run where they're facing, so to turn and such, I needed to physically turn my head. This means that in a real-world situation a player is going to need A) a chair that swivels, unless they want to snap their own neck, and B) a lot of room to turn around in.
With an open world, players are going to be running around every which way, so if the headset is the only way to look around -- unless they make it wireless somehow -- people are going to literally be in knots after a session of heavy play. Of course, if/when they add PlayStation VR compatibility with FFXIV an easy solution would be to let both the headset and the R stick control the camera.
For the PlayStation VR FFXIV demo, I got to fight Titan. Because it was a demo, I was limited to only a couple of available attacks, but Titan was obviously powered down so it wasn't much in the way of the challenge. I'm sure the creature is much more powerful in the actual game.
Fighting Titan with the headset on and looking up and seeing Titan's ugly mug glaring down at me definitely made the game feel much more immersive. Visually, while the world seemed much more real -- thanks to the VR gear -- it also made it easier for me to overlook the HUD. I completely lost track of my own HP while fighting, although it seemed like I was never in any real danger. Also, while I was just fighting Titan, I could imagine that a much more chaotic battle with multiple enemies or being surrounded would make things much more difficult.
What my experience boils down to is, I had a lot of fun. Honestly, I wish I could play FFXIV with VR all the time. Being in first person would potentially make a person weaker to surrounding threats, so I wouldn't mind a third person mode, but even so, the enhancing effect on the experience was superb.
As I mentioned somewhat before, though, playing in an open world with the PlayStation VR kind of needs a swivel chair as well as space to spin in. Considering that open space is at a premium in Japan, it might make the PlayStation VR a bit of a hard sell.