Getting past the obvious hype of steampunk strategy, this week’s most intriguing new Oculus releases offer an array of educational experiences, from exploring the ocean to gaining a better understanding of nuclear disasters:
from Hidden Path Entertainment
After last week’s free multi-player preview – Brass Tactics: Arena – the long-awaited full version is out at last, and all reports indicate that it actually lives up to the hype.
With a single-player campaign lasting up to six hours, plus over a dozen maps, multiple units and a variety of single and multi-player game modes and an interface somewhere between a high-end tabletop war game and a retro-futuristic general’s war room, Brass Tactics is the latest and greatest in VR strategy.
The detailed backgrounds and well-executed steampunk unit designs don’t hurt, either.
Oculus Rift | 8.7 GB | $39.99 from Oculus
Games like Subnautica and Ocean Rift have highlighted particular suitability of VR for experiencing underwater environments – no SCUBA certification necessary and no risk of nitrogen narcosis.
Operation Apex is more realistic than the former and more story-driven than the latter, with players taking on the role of oceanographic researchers in search of the legendary great white shark. That appeals to our scientific side, as does the promise of simulated marine life reacting to us as we enter its native ecosystem.
Oculus Rift | 3.8 GB | $19.99 from Oculus
from Michael Vallance
A free interactive experience intended as an educational tool, FukushimaRMI is a fascinating glimpse into the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Players guide a robot gathering radioactive bins, and the presence of wandering animals and birdsong in the otherwise eerie quiet is a juxtaposition that better conveys the dangers of radiation than any Fallout knock-off.
Oculus Rift | FREE from WEARVR
Konrad the Kitten
Essentially a virtual pet, the simplicity of the concept belies the innovative nature of Konrad the Kitten. Now out of Early Access, this game offers a “plush toy” mode combining real world tactile feedback with virtual pet antics (just strap your controller to your favorite stuffed animal) – and highlights the potential of VR to create meaningful experiences for audiences well outside the gaming and technological community.
Tomb Raider: Lara’s Escape VR
from Warner Bros.
For a free movie promotion, Tomb Raider: Lara’s Escape is a surprisingly solid little experience for mobile VR, offering an amuse bouche of all the signature Lara Croft experiences, from shooting arrows to rappelling down walls to being impaled by spikes.
Gear VR | 704 MB | FREE from Oculus