Why VR might be the next weapon in the war on dementia

This morning, we’re reposting this fascinating article on the therapeutic uses of VR that originally appeared on .

Here’s a truism for you: dementia is a god-awful thing. A savage and remorseless condition, it strips away a lifetime of accumulated experience and personality, eradicating memory and emotional attachment, sometimes seeming to erase a person entirely. It’s a heart-rending process to witness, watching somebody vanish by degrees in this way, seeing them become angry, depressed or violent, and losing all recognition for the people they’ve loved for their entire lives.

Sometimes, the decay can be kinder than expected – patients may drift into a kind of happy reverie, a sort of peace descending as their ember fades. Often it does not happen like this. In many cases, someone who has begun to exhibit the early signs of dementia will be aware of what’s happening, the unavoidable degradation made all the more bitter by the diminishing moments of clarity which pass fleetingly across the lens of their consciousness. Agonisingly for those around them, it can be supremely difficult not to will on the acceleration of the process, or indeed the final embrace of death, in a desire to see the tragedy of this recognition extinguished for good. There is scant comfort in knowing that the final stages of erasure leave little room for self-reflection.

Face-Off: Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil 7 is the biggest shake-up the series has seen since the switch to an action-based focus in RE4. With a new first-person perspective and gameplay elements reminiscent of Konami’s cancelled PT, this new horror title delivers a fresh take on Resident Evil that also manages to bring the series back to its core survival horror roots. From a technical perspective, a 60fps update offers up a level of smoothness usually reserved for remasters, rather than the latest current-gen instalments. The change in direction isn’t just used to facilitate a return to survival horror gameplay either: it’s also a direct result of the game supporting PlayStation VR, where the first-person action and 60Hz refresh makes an immersive low latency VR experience possible.

These aspects clearly drive the look and feel of the game, and used in combination with a heavy layer of post-processing, generates a vision unlike any other Resident Evil title. Boasting a dark and gritty aesthetic, liberal use of chromatic aberration, depth of field, static, scanlines, and other screen distortion elements, Resident Evil 7 generates a presentation resembling ‘found footage’ running on an old CRT. The result is a soft-focused image that is suitably grimy, but intentionally so, despite the high native resolution of the game across all platforms.

Both PS4 and Xbox One present Capcom’s bleak vision at a native 1080p, with raw clarity sacrificed in favour of a more organic video-like image. Both appear visibly soft, though the PS4 version looks more refined due to its implementation of higher quality anti-aliasing. Here Capcom appears to combine post-process AA with a temporal component, providing a clean image virtually free of edge-related artefacts. In contrast, shimmering is often visible on Xbox One across sub-pixel scenery and specular reflections resulting in a rougher overall look. A simpler post-process AA solution appears to be in effect here, seemingly lacking the additional temporal coverage found on the other versions of the game.

Watch: We played Resident Evil 7 in real life

I’ve completed and, I have to say, I really enjoyed it. However, I stayed as far away as I could from the game’s widely touted VR mode because honestly, nope to every part of that. For some bizarre reason though, I said yes to undertaking the Resident Evil 7 Experience, a real-life escape-the-room in London that sets you against the twisted Baker family as you attempt to rescue the camera crew featured in one of the game’s playable VHS found footage segments. It was all rather stressful, but thankfully I had Luke from our lovely sister channel Outside Xtra to keep me company. I imagine if we’d sent Ian or Bratt they’d have gotten as far as the kitchen before curling themselves into a ball in the cupboard.

See how Luke and I got on in the video. If nothing else, I can now say I’ve actually crawled inside one of those morgue refrigerators in the dark and suffered a major fashion malfunction (blood on a white shirt, what was I thinking?) in the name of entertainment. A true hero of our age. If you’re interested in playing the game for yourself, you can have a look at a video I made that attempts to fill you in on beforehand, or, if you’re too chicken (and hey, no judgement here) you can watch as instead.

Dev makes a virtual reality discovery experimenting with two Vives

First we put our heads inside virtual reality, then with special controllers we brought in our hands and arms. But what about entire bodies? They’re still only basically represented. That’s where developer CloudGate Studio comes in.

CloudGate wanted more than hands and arms, to see if it could make a convincing copy of whole human body in a virtual space. With two Vives and four wireless controllers, CloudGate appears to have succeeded.

“This was our first experiment in seeing if we could give you a VR avatar that lined up with where you expected your human body to be, in VR,” CloudGate’s video description reads.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg set to defend Oculus in court

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to defend Oculus in court today in the lawsuit with id Software owner ZeniMax over the development of virtual reality technology.

ZeniMax, which also owns The Elder Scrolls and Fallout maker Bethesda, is suing Facebook for $2bn over claims it stole its virtual reality technology.

ZeniMax said Oculus unlawfully copied its early VR tech as it built its own headset, the Rift. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for an eye-watering $2bn.

Dirt Rally getting a PlayStation VR support, but it’ll cost you a tenner

Dirt Rally is getting a PlayStation VR mode – but it’ll cost you £9.99 to download it.

The PSVR DLC pack will arrive “in the coming weeks”, or as part of a new retail version of the game with the mode built in as standard.

Codemasters’ new mode will let you play the entire game in VR and add a fresh Co-Driver mode to rally sections – so a second player can join in and use a controller to give instructions while looking at the TV (while your friend has the VR headset on).

Sony’s 2017: steady as she goes as PS4 goes big on games

On 1st January, Sony put out a video showing off the PS4 console exclusives coming out in 2017. I spotted 23 games, a mix of Sony-made games coming only to PS4 and games from external developers coming to PS4 as console exclusives. It’s a tidy list of titles. Let’s have a look:

This list is Sony’s 2017. Now the PS4 Slim, Pro and PlayStation VR are all out the door, it’s time for the company to focus on pumping out new games. That, for me, is welcome. Neither the Slim, the Pro nor the VR headset have done much for me. This year, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some games.

Before we dig into the detail, let’s take a moment to mention what’s not on Sony’s list. Insomniac’s Spider-Man game isn’t on there. Neither is the new God of War. The Last of Us 2’s omission is no surprise – Naughty Dog has said it’s a long way off. But I’m surprised the Crash Bandicoot remaster doesn’t make the cut. People seem to love that.

Alien: Covenant is getting its own VR game

Many were delighted to demo 2014’s excellent first-person stealth horror game Alien: Isolation using the Oculus Rift only to be disappointed when the full game . Fans of xenomorphs and virtual reality will be delighted to hear that Ridley Scott’s upcoming film, Alien: Covenant, is getting its very own VR game spin-off.

As reported by , the Alien: Covenant Virtual Reality Experience will be available as a paid app on “major VR platforms”.

The VR spin-off, produced by the film’s director and series creator Ridley Scott, is described by developer Fox Innovation Lab as “a dread-inducing journey into the depths of the Alien universe.”

Eurogamer readers’ top 50 games of 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! What will 2017 bring, eh? Well, it’s already brought this: a list of the top 50 games of 2016 as decided by you. Thank you so much for all of your votes. Now, enjoy!

What we said: “Thumper is fast. It’s so insanely fast. Cobble that together with the precision required to succeed and the relentless allure of the wonderfully horrible art, and you have something special.”

Furtin gets Thumper in a nutshell: “Mesmerizing beats whilst driving the subway to hell in VR.”

VR may not have made much money, but it’s already revitalising games

2016 has been the kind of year that’s probably best spent with your head in a bucket. Luckily for me, that bucket had two little screens wired into it and all sorts of motion-sensing gadgetry stuck on top. I have no idea how VR works – and from a business sense, I gather that it doesn’t really work all that well at the moment. Yet, despite the fact that I couldn’t afford the hardware myself, and despite the fact that VR games aren’t going to be troubling the charts any time soon, VR’s provided me with my favourite gaming moments of this year – and probably my favourite gaming moments of the last few years.

Novelty? Sure. But novelty is actually a bit of a novelty by itself these days. People are pretty good at making games in 2016. I would argue, if I had a better grip on art history, that we’re into the classical stage. Everything’s anatomically correct and very beautifully rendered. Even the duds are generally pretty capable. But what I’ve longed for is a bit of baroque – the madness of grappling with new forms, new ideas. In games that often means new tech. (I feel like I have probably made this point before, so apologies.)

Take Chronos, the first VR game I properly played this year. Chronos is terribly straightforward if you get down to it. Video game maths suggests it’s a bit of Dark Souls added to a bit of, um, Darksiders? Nice enough puzzling and combat in a fantasy setting, with some elegant moments of spectacle that often hinge on drastic changes in perspective. With VR, though, this all felt wonderfully new. The third-person camera that gave me a view of this world was actually me. I was unarguably part of the game, framing the action as I moved my little sword-and-shield guy from one moment to the next and tracked his progress with a tilt of the head. Levels, which would have been artfully handled even if the game was a traditional affair, suddenly became proper dioramas, grottoes and caves I was sat inside. I have never looked at the rumpled edges of a rug so intently in a game as I did here. I had forgotten that feeling – I first got it when I had eye tests at primary school and would look into a little viewer to see an out-of-focus hot air balloon – of being firmly drawn into a private cinema, a world of expectant darkness in which the game itself was suddenly thrillingly bright and up-close.