After 'Jedi Fallen Order': What’s next for Star Wars games?
With the latest (and final) movie trailer for Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker (scroll to bottom) reminding us that the end (or not the end) to the long saga is coming this year plus Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order out soon, here's an article to consider the future of the whole universe (in terms of interactive 'experiences').
The latest big-budget, multi-platform game looks set to measure up as an involving slice of Dark Souls-style third-person action, but how many of these will there be in the future? It's certainly exciting, as we are pulled in ever closer to more total, all-encompassing experiences...
In a nutshell: Virtual Reality
The entire gaming industry is watching carefully the latest Virtual Reality releases. And not just mini movies. Games are getting pretty amazing, and supporting increased sales of now more affordable headsets. The ‘desirability factor’ -- thanks to better hardware and software is beginning to set in, and this Christmas could see many more Oculus Quests (etc.) under the ole Xmas tree. Especially, as the Oculus Link even allows Oculus Rift titles to run on it, although by a cable.
There’s no doubt, VR has taken its time to get going, leading some even to declare that ‘VR is dead’ or dying etc. But... hold those horses. We here at Gaming Impact would argue that it’s missing the point. There’s simply been a hyper-productive ‘interim’ period following the first wave. Also, as with any hype, expectations were rife that VR would bring more than it can deliver. Social VR, is still, in our opinion, a slightly misguided focus.
But games continue to push the hardware to its limits.
However, we’re not saying that, even with all the development and hopes resting on latest Oculus devices (including that ‘killer’ feature of now being stand-alone and not tethered to a PC or phone)... that VR will suddenly go mainstream. In fact, Virtual Reality will continue to be niche throughout 2020, because it’s always going to suffer from being immersive, transporting, (exhausting) and not especially immediate or social.
We’ll need an ‘ultimate’ interface that blends reality and Virtual Reality into one headset. And this is what MR is, or Mixed Reality will one day be. The rooms that we see around us will be transformed when we put this interface on. VR will simply be one option that comes with these MR headsets.
Luckily, it seems this trend will occur naturally. As one example, the Oculus Quest has a feature that has to map your playspace (see this article.) It's easy to see this feature becoming more relevant for Oculus development.
However, it might seem that for now, Microsoft Hololens is mostly driving the world of business - and next the entire world - towards this better future of human-computer interaction. In fact, it's both areas evolving, with VR the escapism and MR the real application. So we have two, contradicting trends, with the good news that they should gradually begin to merge.
Convergence of VR and AR = MR
Augmented Reality has been covered previously here at Gaming Impact with titles like Minecraft Earth, but MR is a step beyond this and will see Star Wars really take off and start to overlap into the real world.
Remember that monster battle game on board the Millennium Falcon? Just slip on your glasses and gather round. What about flying the Millennium Falcon from your sofa, and with your buddies? A complete, replicated cockpit will appear all around you.
And as for social VR, MR will bring a revolution in computer interaction and human communication, allowing us all to break away from physical keyboards and screens. Avatars will appear in our houses and rooms, just like Star Wars holograms.
It could be said that there's only one thing more amazing than escaping into a computer game (via Virtual Reality)... and that's bringing the world of Star Wars and games out into our real world (via MR, Mixed Reality).
The whole idea of a 'cyberspace' or matrix that truly lies mapped to our physical world, is being brought closer and closer each day. And it will be 'ultimate interfaces' in the form of comfortable, untethered, light-weight, super-advanced headsets that looks set to enable this 'middle-space'. And you know what? It even sounds a little like the Force itself, surrounding and binding all things. Reality, it seems, will be stranger than fiction.
VR continues to focus on complete immersion. However, MR is on a convergent path, and it will be fascinating to see how they will start incorporate one another.
VR will continue to be spectacular for complete immersive experiences, but MR will be more instant and present. In short, MR is the killer app that lies sleeping inside VR.
And as most games continue on this road too, Star Wars titles will move in and out of these realms where it suits them best. The whole light-sabre and force power duel is only just getting started. Yes, there will be big-budget VR attempts. But the ultimate arena may well take place in MR, where you can see the room around you, quickly and immediately, with the option of flipping into VR when you're ready to be swallowed up.
So.. there's plenty of time to enjoy the ride towards all of this.
Check out this still-relevant round-up of Star Wars VR and AR titles as we set forth, thanks to the continued pace of headset development.
As I finish this article today, the final trailer for Star Wars 9: The Rise of Skywalker is released online. May the Force be with you.