One iron-clad prediction for the future is that virtual reality will only get bigger and better. For now, however, virtual reality is content with taking baby steps forward, by allowing gamers to become iron-clad instead.
Iron Man VR is exactly the kind of game current virtual reality technology was made to develop. It’s a theme park ride, where the player steps into the iron boots of their favourite hero, feels like they are inhabiting their character, experiences everything up close and personal.
In that regard, Iron Man VR is a definite success. It nails lots of little details about ‘being’ Tony Stark, from the HUD display on the inside of the suit, to Tony’s ongoing dialogue with his onboard computer.
The beginning of the game is where this connection to Stark himself is strongest, with Tony hanging out at his cliffside home, chatting with Pepper Potts, interacting with the environment and testing out his gear. The developers did a great job of making things feel like a fine balance between the cinematic universe and Stark’s comic book origins.
There’s no Robert Downey Junior impression here – instead, the dialogue and interactions are a little warmer, even if the quips remain the same. At one point, as a plane looks in danger of crashing due to damage, Tony insists the team will ‘have to wing it’.
Once the main game lifts off (quite literally), you spend much of the time in the suit, facing off against enemies in the air, which you can shoot down with your hand cannons, boosting around the environment to navigate. It’s very much the same kind of gameplay we have seen in VR before, but there’s no better superhero fit than Iron Man for that kind of experience.
In fact, the most surprising thing about Iron Man VR is the amount of time that is dedicated to talking and story. This is a good choice by the developers. Instead of throwing an Iron Man shell over a shooting game, they have actually built a fun comic book story that lasts about 8 hours and really does feel like an Iron Man adventure.
There are a few glitches and rough edges to fix, but maybe they can iron those out in the sequel.
If any developer has the resources to push VR to the next level, it’s Rockstar games, creator of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. The developer is rumoured to be publishing another AAA title in virtual reality next, after job ads went up indicating as such.
Rockstar already did a great job converting detective story LA Noire to VR a few years ago, with many praising the transition from third-person open world game to a more intimate noir thriller. The question now is whether Rockstar are planning a whole new game for VR, or will convert an existing game.
The odds are highly stacked in favour of one game in particular. Grand Theft Auto V is the current front-runner for conversion, especially after Sony showed an upgraded version of the game at the start of their recent PS5 gameplay stream. It seemed like an odd choice, for a game almost a decade old, but Grand Theft Auto Online still pulls in millions of euro each year, and converting that world to VR would certainly give PlayStation VR a boost.
Finally, the future may hold VR, but that’s not how the world of Fallout see things. In Fallout’s vision of the future, the world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a kind of new Wild West, with mutants roaming the land and everyone hiding from radiation. There are various factions, like the militant Brotherhood of Steel, and the Boomers, all at odds with each other, having developed twisted belief systems in the wake of nuclear war.
That might sound bleak, but the reality of Fallout is that there was always a wry sense of humour in its mutated DNA, a satirical streak that made the games far brighter than the themes might suggest.
Well, Amazon clearly agree, as they have hired the showrunners of Westworld to create a TV series based on the Fallout property. Although only a short teaser has been released so far, we can’t wait to see how our favourite wasteland comes to life (what little of it is there) on the screen.