Trends come and go. Even the definition of trend gives itself away as a “prevailing tendency or inclination.” While something prevails in the moment, it doesn't mean it will last. Just like the mighty Roman Empire, a trend will rise and eventually fall. You didn't really think parachute pants were going to be the norm forever, did you?
Some trends are widely successful in their time, then go the way of the wind. Think Beanie Babies on this one. Others are like The Little Engine That Could, they just don't know when to give up and continue to resurface over the years. This one in particular is 3D for me. It's found some staying power in the most recent iteration with 3D TVs, the 3DS, and regular 3D screenings of movies in theaters now. I was always of the party that thought 3D wouldn't last, that it would always be a gimmick. I still consider it a gimmick. I've only seen two films in “RealD 3D” and one was because I didn't buy the ticket myself.
Ironically enough, the most adjacent technology to 3D is virtual reality. While I've been the non-believer on the part of 3D, I have always fallen for VR. Boy, have I fallen hard. I consider the current technology trend toward VR to include some of the most, “We live in the future!” moments of my life. I always dreamed of being able to enter new worlds, to really feel like I was there in the fantasy environments of my favorite video games.
E3 2016 was the most recent and largest bomb drop in the world of VR. Bethesda announced that two of their most popular titles, Fallout 4 and DOOM, were getting VR ports on the HTC Vive. The HTC Vive is arguably one of the most capable VR systems on the market. The PlayStation VR has some let-downs, like the lack of HDR/4K graphics, and the Oculus has just been a crap shoot from the very beginning. While there may be a chance that Fallout 4 will come to those systems as well, we're going to imagine a world where the HTC Vive is the only option right now.
Fallout 4 broke records on launch day, with 470,000 Steam players enjoying the game. Bethesda sent out 12 million copies of the game to retailers in the first 24 hours. It is absolutely insane how many people have their hands on this game. It's not a stretch to say that Bethesda's games stick around for a long time after release. I'm still playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim six years later. It's safe to say the two year old Fallout 4 will still have many of loyal players excited to check it out on VR.
This point is crucial, because VR is still a marginalized medium. It's new. Just like when solar panels first released and only the uber rich could afford to implement them, VR is confined to those who can afford it. Not only that, but there's also the fact that it simply takes up room. The RV I'm currently occupying doesn't have room for a Vive set-up! Not unless I took it outside and risked having my brand new VR system stolen because the neighbors realized I had it unguarded.
However, just like the solar panel comparison, VR will eventually lower in price and become more available for others. When it does, it's going to have to have some big names behind it. That's the other biggest hurdle facing VR right now. There are just not that many well-known developers creating for it. There are tons of indie games that are awesome in VR (I recommend Accounting if you haven't checked it out yet), but no large titles quite yet.
This is where companies like Bethesda and games like Fallout 4 will come in handy. This could be the breakout star that VR needs. It's like when Sam Phillips first discovered Elvis Presley. He knew he had something great, but had no idea of what he might become. Fallout 4 is a fantastic title, VR is a growing medium that could really take off, the two might be a match made in burgeoning technology heaven. It's really only a matter of time and public opinion that will prove or disprove this theory. Bethesda has yet to announce exactly when Fallout 4 will release on Vive, but as they're brining it to E3 this year, we might soon hear more on this.
Virtual reality is still in its infancy as a technology. It's expensive, which limits the consumers who are willing to give up eating for a month in order to afford it. There are mostly indie/unknown developers creating for it. which limits the amount of people who even know anything about what to play on it. However, with bigger studios like Bethesda, and video game series like Fallout getting involved, VR looks like it might finally have a leg to stand on.
Personally, if big name titles like Fallout 4 are going to be on the HTC Vive, I'm more than willing to shell out the cash for it when I have it available. Prior to that, it still looks like a fantastic piece of tech that I just can't warrant the expense of because it might not be around for much longer. I'd rather VR not go the way of 3D and disappear, only to reappear half a decade down the line with some slight improvements. I'd like to applaud Bethesda for having the cojones to take a step in the right direction for us all. I'm looking forward to taking down some Deathclaws with my bare hands in my Power Armor.
Image Credit: Nexus Mods