Last week, Microsoft kept up with the ongoing gaming trend of virtual reality and announced its own intention to enter the VR headset market with Windows Holographic and Microsoft HoloLens. The implication is that, like competitor Oculus, Microsoft will attempt to use HoloLens to further cement the Xbox One as a gaming machine that can double as an entertainment center. Of course, like Sony's Project Morpheus, the potential for gaming applications is strong.
In fact, Microsoft has some established franchises under its umbrella that can already take advantage of its HoloLens peripheral. Today, Shacknews examines some of the games that are primed to take advantage of Microsoft's jump into virtual reality.
If virtual reality gaming is the future, it's only appropriate that Microsoft apply it to arguably this generation's biggest gaming license. In September, Microsoft picked up the Minecraft license for a cool $2.5 billion, though some wondered whether the company could make the purchase pay dividends. With the Minecraft license under their umbrella, Microsoft could potentially bolster the Xbox One and Windows versions of Minecraft with an option to play via first-person virtual reality.
Scavenging and building settlements would be fascinating to pull off with a VR headset, but the true meat would be in beholding the results of a player's hard work. It's one thing to see someone's handy work through a YouTube video, but it's another thing to virtually step into the world and see it with your own eyes. Better yet, picture riding something like the Beetlejuice roller coaster (created last year by YouTube user nuropsych1) in full virtual reality. The gaming youth are ready to seize this opportunity and they'll be the ones to fully embrace the possibilities of virtual reality and Minecraft.
This is an uncommon instance of a third-party license possibly lining up with Microsoft's plans. The Madden NFL franchise is listed here mainly because of Microsoft's cozy relationship with the National Football League, as evidenced by all sidelines filled with Microsoft Surface tablets (not iPads, as game announcers would have you believe). With many Madden NFL promotions centering around Microsoft's deal with the league, it makes sense that Microsoft would have some exclusive ideas lined up for EA's football series.
While the first inclination would be to connect HoloLens to actual gameplay, the more intriguing ideas come from making VR a supporting feature. Allow players to run through their playbook by stepping into the shoes of a quarterback or gets a birds-eye view of the action from the coach's bench. Better yet, imagine the possibilities for a spectator mode, with players able to watch their friends' Madden sessions unfold from the perspective of the sidelines, the booth, the blimp, or even one of the players on the field. It'd be a wild new way to watch the recent rivalries of our own the man with the briefcase and Chatty posters Thornfist and Juno.
Microsoft is feeling especially ambitious with the upcoming Forza Motorsport 6, forging a deal with the Ford Motor Company to bring out the latest in the Ford GT line of vehicles. Among the goals for the partnership is to make this version of Forza Vista the best year for gearheads. However, the addition of Microsoft HoloLens support would make this feature undoubtedly the best iteration yet and a true reason to upgrade from Forza Motorsport 5. Users would be able to literally step into every vehicle first-hand, reaching out and revving the engine for themselves. All that would be missing would be the new car smell.
Of course, there's nothing quite like driving and the no-brainer application would be VR cockpit views for every race. Games like Project CARS are eventually planning to integrate VR and it would definitely be wise for Microsoft to follow suit with its prized racing franchise.
This should go without saying. Halo has become synonymous with the Xbox brand, so it would only be appropriate that Microsoft give the franchise some sort of HoloLens support. Halo multiplayer is about more than shooting, so while there would be a true novelty in stepping into virtual Spartan armor, there are other elements of the Halo experience that VR worth capturing. The idea of taking the turret on a moving Warthog or flying a Banshee would be worth trying out.
VR support would also feed further into the eSports aesthetic that 343 Industries appears to be aiming for. Anyone that played the Halo 5: Guardians beta saw several venues that fit the space arena theme, along with ideas like custom intros and Spartan banter that made the game feel more like a competitive eSports title than anything that came before it. So why not add first-person virtual reality to the proceedings and give Halo more of a "laser tag" kind of sensation?
Meanwhile, single-player fans would get their first chance to become Master Chief, getting the epic highs of gunning down Covenant forces and an amplified uneasiness from an oncoming Flood attack.
Fantasia: Music Evolved
It's unlikely that Microsoft, Harmonix, or Disney Interactive will want to hear anything about Fantasia: Music Evolved for a long time, especially given how Microsoft essentially hung the game out to dry months before its scheduled release. Marketing failures aside, however, it's easy to forget that Fantasia was a very good game and one that made great use of the Xbox One Kinect peripheral. That's enough of a reason to consider keeping this series alive, but the Microsoft HoloLens offers a compelling new one.
The very premise of Fantasia, manipulating music and using it to create luscious and colorful worlds, is the kind of experience that's tailor-made for virtual reality. Wearing a HoloLens and combining it with Fantasia's gameplay is an idea that makes me outright giddy, especially when done with a rocking soundtrack and Fantasia's creative remixes. This is where the technical aspects of HoloLens can be put to the test. If the headset can truly track movement and prove responsive, Fantasia would be exactly the kind of game that would sell people on the virtual reality concept. Step into a world, wave your arms to the music, and shape your surroundings to your beat.
If this concept requires reviving the Kinect to further track movement, similar to how the PlayStation Camera will work with Project Morpheus, HoloLens would also double as a way for Microsoft to revive the ill-fated sensor peripheral. HoloLens, Kinect, and Fantasia could be a potential match made in heaven, one worthy of bearing the Disney name.
Are there any other Xbox or Windows PC franchises that were overlooked? Let us know in the comments by joining the conversation in Chatty.