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The VR Hits and Misses of E3 2021

A very mixed show this year.

So the traditionally ‘biggest videogame event of the year’, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2021 has now concluded and it was a very mixed bag of announcements wasn’t it? Heavyweights like Microsoft/Bethesda and Nintendo certainly helped carry the show when it came to all the normal fair, whilst quirkier entries from Limited Run Games gave the event some much-needed frivolity. As for all the virtual reality (VR) news, there were some updates, too few surprises and some glaring omissions which could’ve stolen the show.

A Township Tale

The Good

Let’s start with the good stuff and there were some highlights worth mentioning. A Township Tale by Australian team Alta was definitely one of them. A big open-world role-playing game (RPG) that has been available direct from the studio for PC VR headsets for a little while now is getting a native port to Oculus Quest. A virtual server can be created for up to eight friends to team-up, choose various classes and explore the world together. Most importantly, there’s not long to wait for A Township Tale which arrives on 15th July.

When it came to updates Cloudhead Games’ Pistol Whip didn’t disappoint by officially unveiling the new Style System to mix up the rhythm action gameplay. It’ll be a bumper summer update as it’ll be combined with the new Smoke & Thunder campaign.

Another update that VRFocus is looking forward to and isn’t too far away is Waltz of the Wizard: Natural Magic. This is a magical videogame that seems to keep going and going, with developer Aldin Dynamics constantly enhancing the title. The update will add new ways to cast magic spells and offer new locations to explore and fight monsters in.

Looking ahead into next there’s the visceral Samurai Slaughter House by Tab Games. Instantly bringing back memories of MadWorld for Wii thanks to the black and white aesthetic, Samurai Slaughter House is a physics-based combat where the only splash of colour comes from the enemies blood. It’s coming to PC VR headsets in 2022.

The Dull

Then there were the announcements which really didn’t feel like proper E3 news, lots of brief videos with a bit more gameplay but no launch dates or anything really tasty.

Green Hell VR, Song in the Smoke, Rhythm or the Universe: Ionia, and Against are all exciting projects which saw new footage arrive or went behind the scenes yet there was no wow factor, nothing that jumped out genuinely new.

The same could be said for Windlands 2 finally coming to PlayStation VR this summer, a whole three years after its original debut for Oculus Rift. It’s nice for PlayStation VR owners to get access as well as a physical version, however, there was no mention of new content to spice up the reveal.

And then there was NERF. The next project from Secret Location, NERF Ultimate Championship only provided a teasing cinematic trailer for the 2022 shooter. A surprise, most definitely. A good one, well we’ll have to wait and see.

NERF Ultimate Championship

The Glaringly Absent

So what was missing, or more accurately, what were we hoping to see that never materialised? There were three VR titles VRFocus was hoping to see appear in the press conferences, two from Ubisoft in the form of Splinter Cell VR and Assassin’s Creed VR, and Resident Evil 4 from Capcom.

Only revealed back in April and the first confirmed Oculus Quest 2 exclusive, Resident Evil 4 is a collaborative effort between Capcom and Oculus Studios to bring one of the best versions in the franchise into VR. It being reworked for the standalone headset with new controls allowing you to dual wield guns and melee weapons for the first time. The last update came during the Oculus Gaming Showcase which was only a couple of months away so some new footage would’ve been nice. A released date definitely wasn’t expected, with a 2021 launch currently earmarked a date will likely arrive during Facebook Connect.

Splinter Cell VR and Assassin’s Creed VR, on the other hand, is a very different scenario. These were both teased by Ubisoft at Facebook Connect in 2020 and nothing has been heard of them since. If ever there was a time to drop some details it would be E3 week. Any info on either of them would’ve been the big VR reveal of the week, instead, Ubisoft’s big news was a sequel, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope for Nintendo Switch – loved the original so that’s a bonus.

Keep that VR chin up

Don’t dispair though, this isn’t the end of VR. This summer has some awesome VR videogames on the way like Sniper Elite VR from Rebellion and Just Add Water, Fracked by nDreams, Winds & Leaves by Trebuchet, and Song in the Smoke from 17-BIT. Plus Resolution Games has Realm of the Rat King DLC for Demeo coming or if there’s a Zero Latency location near you there’s always Far Cry VR.

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