3 game genres that are surprisingly awesome in virtual reality

10/04/2015 by GIANCARLO VALDES | Source: Gamesbeat
Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition

Tower defense doesn’t seem like a natural choice for VR, but playing Defense Grid 2: Enhanced VR Edition made me a believer. Though it’s an older game — Defense Grid 2 originally came out in 2014 for consoles and PC — developer Hidden Path Entertainment retouched the original’s 21 levels to make sure they look great upon closer scrutiny in VR. It also added five new levels exclusive to this version that expand on the story.

Defense Grid 2’s main gameplay is still the same. You play as a commander who must prevent aliens from stealing precious power cores by placing towers around a base. But in this version, your god’s-eye view of the world gets a considerable upgrade with the Rift. To build a tower, all you have to do is look at one of the little squares (a red dot on the screen helps you out) and press a button on the gamepad.

In the demo, the island level I was playing on felt like it was just floating in front of me. It was as if I was staring at a tabletop game with intricately detailed buildings and miniature figurines. But this world was actually alive.

I leaned in and admired the swirling clouds of dust near the palm trees and dove underwater so I could see what my base looked like from below. But as beautiful as everything was, I couldn’t spend all my time just staring at the world. The alien creatures moved in fast, and I attacked them with lasers, cannons, and tesla towers. I also had access to a powerful orbital beam that I could summon every five minutes.

One of the things Hidden Path wanted to do for the VR version was encourage exploration. You can unlock new parts of a level by looking for different environmental triggers. For the demo, pressing a button on different radar dishes caused new sections of the base to rise out of the sea, offering additional tower spaces. Other items throughout the game will have different effects or serve as collectibles.

According to Hidden Path CEO Jeff Pobst, it’s faster and easier to build towers in VR than it is with a mouse and keyboard in the original version. The studio didn’t expect that to happen when it first started making the game. In fact, it was Oculus who first asked Hidden Path to bring Defense Grid 2 to the Rift. Since that initial meeting, both companies have been working together to make the Enhanced VR Edition run as smoothly as possible when it comes out next year.