The Lab is the Wii Sports of VR. It shows like few other games out there the potential that VR holds for the world. It shows how certain activities can be enhanced in the virtual realm, it shows how developing games for VR needs a new perspective on digital interaction. It also shows how well new interface techniques can work.
For those that have not experienced the joy of the Lab, it is a collection of mini-games and experiences. There is a world where you can explore real-world locations (with a digital puppy.) There is a Dota 2 Secret Shop and Shopkeeper. There is a model of the solar system and the human body. However, it is the big three games that we will look at this evening.
Called Longbow, the archery title gets a lot of love with the inclusion of leaderboards (you will notice a trend). First up the waves have been changed. Initially there were a total of 8 waves and then the game finished. This is changing thanks to the leaderboards. Now there are an infinite quantity of waves with a couple of other minor changes. The oil which you can drop on the invaders will now refresh every 8 waves, so go ahead and use them! Or don’t… The scoring system rework will also see you rewarded for not using the barrels or the oil. You will also get extra points for finishing waves, popping red balloons and headshots.
Like Longbow, Xortex also gets a new scoring system. This new system follows in the same thread as above by adding infinite modes and reworking the scoring so that a leaderboard can be added. There are a few more changes which manipulate the gameplay a little. You will now know how much damage you have dealt to enemies, they will start turning red and eventually heal over time. The biggest change relates to the super laser; this is being removed in favour of a super bomb. This new ulti will destroy everything in an area, but at the cost of resetting your score multiplier.
Finally we have some changes to slingshot. This game is the least modified of the three titles. While this also gets a leaderboard, the changes are more about smoothing the flinging experience. The biggest of which is that exploding boxes are more explody.
Of the other minor changes, the most important is that Fetchbot now has associated haptic feedback!
It is nice seeing Valve continue to develop these kinds of titles. It is one of the few games out there which really explores some of the best ways to interact with the VR environment. There are a lot of ideas in this title, and I suspect that there will be many more to come. You can find the full change list below.