2021 is shaping up to be a very promising year in the gaming industry. Not only have next-gen consoles set a new standard for gaming experiences, but cloud gaming has also gone fully mainstream.
There have also been some major developments in the field of Virtual Reality, with several major new releases lined up this year and some surprising forays into the sector by leading entertainment brands.
In this article, we’ll be covering the latest developments in VR gaming and giving you the heads-up on the hottest new games to keep an eye out for in 2021.
VR Gaming – A Primer
Advanced technology like VR is very much a 21st Century phenomenon. Whilst it’s true that the technology did undergo significant developments since the year 2K, VR actually has its roots way back in the swinging sixties.
In 1968, a team of Harvard computer scientists built the world’s first head-mounted virtual reality device. Known as the Sword of Damocles, the headset was so heavy that it needed to be suspended from the ceiling. It generated a series of basic computerized images that changed whenever the wearer moved.
The Sword of Damocles remained a lab project, but the device undoubtedly paved the way for our more modern developments, particularly the attempts made by SEGA and Nintendo in the 1990s to bring the technology to the wider gaming market.
Now, of course, thanks to consumer-ready headsets like the Oculus Rift, Sony’s own PlayStation VR, and even Google Cardboard, smooth and immersive VR experiences are possible at home for the cost of a next-gen console.
VR Games to Watch Out For
There are some exciting new VR games set for release from summer 2021 onward. Here’s a roundup of the best ones to watch out for:
Lone Echo II – Ready at Dawn’s follow-up to the hit Lone Echo has been doing the rounds on the ‘Most Anticipated lists for some time now, but with a release set for this summer, hopefully, that will be a thing of the past. Originally slated for 2019, then postponed until 2021, this single-player sci-fi will be available on both Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest (via PC Link).
Low-Fi – If the Cyberpunk genre is more you’re style, add Iris VR Inc’s Low-Fi to your wishlist. Not only will this ambitious indie project be available across all major VR platforms, you can also play it on the PlayStation 5. It follows a classic cyber-noir style story – alone cop has to patrol the crime-ridden streets of a futuristic city – but it promises to be captivating and totally immersive.
Fracked – A PlayStation VR exclusive (for the time being at least), Fracked is a thrilling action game with an emphasis on adventure. Climbing, skiing, running, base jumping, zipline traversing – Fracked will give you the chance to experience them all in VR as you progress through levels and take down your enemies.
VR tech is also going to become more widespread in the iGaming sector of the industry, as seen in PokerStars’ recent expansion into the field. One of the first online poker operators to launch a fully immersive VR poker game, the latest updates to their offering include VR-based Sit & Go tournaments and play-money formats.
Meanwhile, sports fans across the US will soon be able to be part of brand new betting experiences at home via the Oculus Quest 2. Verizon Media has teamed up with a prominent American betting operator to roll out “groundbreaking virtual betting” in the latter half of 2021.
Could Netflix be Headed to VR?
The success of VR gaming so far has attracted the interest of major home entertainment brands, Netflix being the most prominent. Although the production company giant is yet to release an official announcement, industry insiders are predicting that Netflix will soon add VR gaming to its portfolio.
Netflix has already hinted in the past that it would be interested in pursuing gaming properly. The company has attempted to integrate games before with choose-your-own-adventure programs like Bandersnatch and additional merchandising and licensing partnerships.
In April, however, Netflix Chief Operating and Product Officer, Greg Peters, dropped the biggest hint yet, stating the company is “trying to figure out…different ways…(to) deepen the fandom” and that “games are going to be an important form of entertainment and…modality to deepen” the fan experience.