Virtual Reality Gets Real in 2017

Of all the many lists of trends for the gaming industry in 2017 published at the turn of the year, most if not all had virtual reality right at the top. VR has been around for many decades now, and has often been touted as the next big thing in tech, but advances in hardware capabilities, as well as lower price points, suggest that this could very well be the time for VR to go mainstream.

While VR has many possible applications, both serious and entertaining, the sector it has the potential to impact the most is gaming. VR equipment helps you to become fully immersed in a different world, real or imaginary, and pretty much forget that you are still sitting on your sofa at home. One area in particular where virtual reality is predicted to have a big impact is the future of the online gambling industry. VR will be able to make the whole experience much more immersive. Straight away, you can be transported to the interior of an opulent casino, walking from game to game and interacting with seemingly-real fellow gamblers.

There are a number of ways in which you can already buy in to VR technology, with prices ranging from a few pounds to a few thousand. Undoubtedly the device that has gained the most column inches is Oculus Rift, which went on sale commercially in 2016 priced at over £500. What’s more, the eyewear needs to be used in conjunction with a powerful PC costing thousands. Once set up, you can enjoy games such as Minecraft VR, epic space game Elite: Dangerous and the amusingly-titled Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.

Another entrant to the market later in 2016 was the Sony Playstation VR headset, which is compatible with PlayStation 4 and PlayStation4 Pro consoles. With even more of a focus on gaming that the Oculus device, and with many people already owning PlayStation devices, this launch has if anything more potential to bring VR gaming to a mass audience. There are more than 100 compatible games already confirmed, including Batman: Arkham VR, space dogfighter EVE Valkyrie and Headmaster, which involves tackling a series of football-heading tasks, without the associated concussion.

At a more affordable price point, there are headsets that use your smartphone rather than a PC or console to immerse yourself in the world of VR. The Samsung Gear VR, for instance, is priced at around £100, and is compatible with S6 and S7 Samsung smartphones. There are a number of VR games available to play, including Land’s End, rhythm puzzle game Smash Hit and the sci-fi shooter Gunjack.

Even cheaper at around £15 is Google’s Cardboard, which as its name suggests consists of a cardboard frame for your smartphone, as well as an accompanying app. Gaming options are understandably more limited, but it’s undoubtedly one of the cheapest ways to experience virtual reality. The opportunities offered by virtual reality appear almost limitless. Whether you choose to shoot aliens in outer space, or mix with the high-rollers at Monte Carlo, there are whole new worlds waiting to be explored.

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