Minecraft (Virtual Reality)
|Minecraft (Virtual Reality)|
|Game Mode||Single Player, Multiplayer, Co-op|
|Release Date||April 27, 2016|
VR has come to one of the biggest franchises of this decade.
How do you review a phenomenon like Minecraft. Ever since its initial release in May of 2009 to its official ‘full’ release in November 2011, Markus “Notch” Persson’s game has sold a total of over 70 million copies across multiple platforms and has pretty much become a household name, easily sitting alongside the likes of Mario.
Minecraft has been part of a push for the use of games as education – it even made it into classrooms, it has its own convention, and “Notch” sold the property to Minecraft for $2.5 billion. To put those billions into perspective, Disney bought Lucasfilm (and by extension the Star Wars franchise) for $4 billion. More than half the price of one of the biggest pop culture icons of the modern age, Minecraft is just that big. How so, though? How did a low-fidelity with apparently no rules and no true goals become so popular?
It is, perhaps, in that very lack of rules and imposed goals that a lot of the appeal lies. Minecraft came at a time when games were becoming increasingly more linear and scripted, when you would be set down a specific path and had little control or agency, rather than shaping the game world itself, you were along for the ride.
There were, of course, exceptions to this, but it is quite rare to see a game that sticks so purely to its vision. The premise of Minecraft was simple, rather than sending you on grandiose quests or sticking you in tight corridors, you were simply thrown out into a procedurally generated world and left to explore.
What you would do with this world was left to your imagination. Perhaps you would try to live off of the land without severely damaging or changing it, or maybe you wanted a skull fortress. Because, why not? Or perhaps you wanted to recreate a place from another game or media, or even reality. Regardless of what you wanted, Minecraft just let you do it, it was all up to your imagination, and that was a powerful feeling that was never really tapped into properly by games before.
Since then, the game has evolved immensely. The core premise of the game has remained intact, but more traditional elements have been included for those who wish to pursue them – including even an “end goal” – hunting a dragon from another dimension. As recent as February 2016, new, major game mechanics have been introduced, such as a complete rework of the rather basic combat system into something a little more complex.
Perhaps the most interesting addition, however, has been the inclusion of VR. While the whole thing is still very much a work in progress, it is quite promising.
Whether you’re using Oculus Rift or Gear VR, there are, in fact, two modes available. You may first be eased into the experience by playing through a simulated TV in a virtual room. The living room itself looks like something someone would build in the game.
The second mode is the game as normal - you’d think VR might not add much to such a pixelated game, but even here, it makes for a more immersive experience. The mountain ranges, the grandiose buildings you construct, all of those landscapes that were low-fi but beautiful in their own way now take on a whole different scale, and if you’re playing on Survival Mode, all of those monsters who have maybe stopped being creepy over the years will seem a lot more terrifying.
Mojang has shown its committal to the game throughout the years, and will hopefully iron out the remaining bugs and bring Minecraft to all VR platforms. While new IP and new genres for VR are exciting, seeing old titles through a new perspective can be refreshing as well.
Minecraft is out now on a wide variety of platforms.