XR gaming brings real-world elements and virtual elements together to create interactive 3D experiences. It encompasses all immersive technologies that bring the physical and virtual worlds together. It covers everything from virtual reality and augmented reality to mixed reality.
Despite recent challenges, the world of XR gaming continues to flourish. We’ve seen headset revisions, game sequels, and spin-offs of well-loved franchises in the past few months. This year, we can expect more games and gear to drop.
Here, we’re going to delve into the most highly anticipated titles and headsets for 2022.
XR Games: What’s New?
World-building games are sweeping the VR market. Two exciting titles that are coming out early this year are Cities: VR and Garden of the Sea.
Last month, Fast Travel Games revealed that they are bringing the city-building experience from Cities: Skylines to virtual reality. Starting this spring, gamers can watch their own cities come to life in Cities: VR using Oculus Quest 2 (Meta Quest 2). Crafted with a range of tools and an easy-to-use control system, its precise and tactile feedback makes it a great entry point to the Skylines universe.
After more than two years in early access, Garden of the Sea is finally getting a full PC VR release. Like Cities: VR, it is an immersive simulation, where gamers can craft houses and gardens to their heart’s content. However, it is more than a city-building game.
Garden of the Sea also lets gamers interact with animals, plant vegetables, and cook their own food. They can even cross seas and explore new islands. Players can access it via HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Valve Index.
Aside from world-building games, cyberpunk is an ever-expanding niche in VR. NYX is a highly anticipated massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Set in a futuristic dystopian colony, players have to navigate treacherous wastelands and villages to accomplish quests. Like many titles, it is also coming to Oculus Quest 2, PC VR, and PlayStation VR.
While VR game developers are all about building fictional realms that go beyond one’s wildest dreams, AR developers are working hard to enhance real-time mapping. Niantic, known for creating Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom, has made a software development package called Lightship Augmented Reality Developer’s Kit available to the public.
ARDK is the very system they used to build their famous AR games. Real-world mapping, along with geocaching, will enable developers to tailor AR experiences to specific regions of the world.
At the Augmented World Expo, Niantic CEO John Hanke shared that they are creating a new game based on these technologies. It will be like a massive scavenger hunt, where players can seek and find AR objects.
XR Gaming Gear
A big change coming to the world of VR headsets is the rebranding of Oculus Quest. Facebook has rebranded itself as Meta. In an effort to realign product branding, it’ll also be renaming its flagship virtual reality products. Oculus Quest will be renamed Meta Quest, while Oculus App will be renamed Meta Quest App.
Meta’s upcoming VR headset, which has been dubbed Project Cambria, might be launched under the Quest Brand, too. It’s not going to replace the Quest 2. Instead, it’ll be a high-end next-generation model with enhanced MR capabilities, face tracking, and more. Perhaps Meta will call it Quest Pro.
Last February, PlayStation VR’s Senior Vice President of Platform Experience Hideaki Nishino also confirmed that a VR controller is coming to PS5 consoles. In the same post, he shared that it’s still in development, and he denied a 2021 release. Although he didn’t specify a release period, many are hoping for it to launch this year.
Another highly anticipated device is the Apple MR headset. Rumors about an Apple MR headset have been floating around for years now. It is said to be capable of showing VR and AR experiences. Since the tech giant has neither confirmed nor denied the speculations, most of the information about it online is hearsay.
The Promise of Mainstream XR Gaming
Despite the big leaps in XR gaming, it is still quite far from becoming mainstream. Headsets and motion chairs might be more accessible and cheaper than ever before, but they’re not yet ready for the mass market. Hopefully, as the sector further innovates and advances, the promise of mainstream XR gaming won’t be as far-fetched as it seems.