Minecraft has been one of the few games that remains popular even after its initial release and it is constantly being updated by the developers. It is one of the greatest gaming sandbox where players can build, craft, explore and play in their own world. Millions of players around the world would spend countless hours everyday getting lost in their own worlds. As it increases its reach and expands its support across various consoles, such as PC, Xbox and mobile, it is not surprising that Minecraft has tried to create support for VR headsets as well.
Why it is engaging:
Virtual reality is a refreshing change from the classic Minecraft gameplay on a screen. After spending so much effort into building and creating a world of your own in Minecraft, what would be better than to enjoy all of that work you spent in person? By using Minecraft VR, players are able to fully enjoy the world around them and see a whole new perspective of their Minecraft world.
Firstly, the sense of scale hits almost all players when they are new to Minecraft VR. As a two block tall character in the Minecraft world, standing among the craggy chasms, being able to look up at the looming mountains, seeing them extend into the sky far above you. One cannot deny that the experience is simply breathtaking. Due to its low-fidelity, block-based graphics, immersing into the Minecraft world gives a cartoon-like feel to players. The lack of fine details made the gameplay comfortable for players to enjoy their time in the virtual world.
Secondly, certain game actions such as swinging the arms to attack a mob, pulling the string of the bow to fire an arrow and hitting the block to mine it was very intuitive and realistic. This helps to make the game more immersive as the player has to mimic the actions in real life in order to complete a certain task in the game.
In addition, with the help of virtual reality, players are able to get up close with mobs such as dogs and cats to “pat” them. Encounters with hostile mobs in Minecraft becomes way scarier. Having to see a hostile mob approaching, attacking or even dropping from the top of the cave down to where the player is inflicts a greater fear in players as everything seems more real. This increases the challenge of the game where players get to fight all the scary mobs in first person, slashing away with their swords or blocking attacks using their shields.
Points of improvements:
Although being “inside” a Minecraft world is a novelty, it is a game where players spend a lot of time getting lost in their own virtual world with their arbitrary set of goals that they can chase for hours – building a city, exploring all the biomes, slaying the ender dragon. Despite efforts in making the game comfortable in VR such as the ability to toggle between theatre mode and immersive mode, Minecraft VR still faces the challenge of players experiencing vertigo after long hours of playing the game. Players can feel the strain in their eyes, the ache on their necks as well as the headset pressing into their face. Therefore, players would choose not to play Minecraft VR for for long hours unlike its other gaming platform counterparts.
Furthermore, as Minecraft have many controls for mining blocks, placing blocks, crouching, sprinting, jumping, eating as well as switching inventories, players who are new to VR may be overwhelmed by the shear amount of controls to familiarise. Chatting in multiplayer mode is difficult as well since the VR headsets do not provide keyboard inputs for text chats. Other modes of communication such as voice chats can help to alleviate this issue.
Nonetheless, I believe that VR has unlock a huge potential for the gaming industry to improve players’ gaming experience. Minecraft took the plunge to create their own VR experience for players and there will be many more gaming companies that will follow the trend to create VR options for their games in future.