In a time when video game companies are more desperate than ever to squeeze every cent from their creations, video game remasters are emerging as a viable way to revive content that has had already had its day. Developers just need to refresh the visuals, maybe tweak some gameplay mechanics, then slap “remastered” on the box, and it’s ready to be sold to a new generation, or resold to a player-base of nostalgic grown-up gamers.
Grim Fandango, Dark Souls, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and the Last of Us are a few remastered titles released in recent years. I wish that developers would go one step further than re-releasing their games with improved visuals on more powerful hardware. I wish they would add a VR mode.
VR is a marmite topic in gaming. Some love it, while others think it’s a gimmick built upon hardware that won’t be up to standard for a few more generations.
I’ve written about VR a fair bit over the years. Two years ago, I wrote an article titled ‘Re-Releasing Games In VR Isn’t Lazy – It’s Genius‘ and I still stand by that statement today. While games are nowhere near as detailed or crisp as they are on my 4K monitor, the feeling of putting on my VR headset and standing inside the game world, rather than peering into it through a pane of glass, is incredibly immersive. Given the choice between a classic title being re-skinned or having a VR mode implemented, I’d take the opportunity to literally stand within the world of the game any day.
Looking at a game like Skyrim, which has been released on almost every major platform since 2011, it’s easy to see the potential opportunity at the fingertips of classic games, particularly those with large open worlds. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR is the first re-release of Skyrim that has felt like a new game. Visually, it looks like a game that was released early in this console generation (though that is easily fixed with mods), but the level of immersion trumps any 8K release that we may receive on the PS5 and Xbox Two. I physically flinched as the dragon burst through the tower wall in the opening sequence, and I found myself holding my breath as I snuck past the bear in the caves. And, don’t even get me started on those giant spiders.
No Man’s Sky is another game that has been given a new lease of life by adding virtual reality. Hello Games’ latest update, Beyond, added more social features and expanded multiplayer, improving the experience for existing and returning players alike. The addition of VR, however, opened No Man’s Sky up to a whole new subsect of gamers, including myself. Being able to explore the universe in VR with my friends, regardless of whether they have VR, was too good of an experience to pass on. It wouldn’t surprise me if Hello Games enjoyed a plethora of sales to VR gamers, sales that would have been lost without the addition of the mode.
VR isn’t only viable in first-person games, either. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is an exceptional example of a third-person game successfully implementing virtual reality, and fans of platforming and puzzles don’t need to look any further than Moss and Lucky’s Tale for examples of how VR can refresh their gaming experience.
Skyrim VR, Doom VFR, Fallout 4 VR, and No Man’s Sky have all shown the benefit of adding VR to existing games, as they give players a whole new way to play, and increasing the earning potential for developers. More developers need to add VR, either on release or as expansions to revive interest in ageing titles. I’d happily re-buy most of my Steam library in VR, given the option.