I first tried the Oculus virtual reality headset back in 2013, just one year after the company completed its Kickstarter. It wowed me at the time, but one thing I noticed when I took it off was the not inconsiderable amount of sweat I’d managed to produce in such a short time.
Fast forward three years and Oculus isn’t the only player in the game. The headsets are definitely lighter, but from the Gear VR to the Oculus, from the HTC Vive to the PlayStation VR it has to be said: They’re still not comfortable enough for long-term use.
At E3 2016 I didn’t play any VR games for longer than 15 minutes, but even that was long enough for things starting to get uncomfortable. It’s true that my glasses aren’t covered in condensation any more, but I’m not excited about settling in for a marathon gaming session while strapped into a headset.
And that’s a problem for game developers and hardware makers alike. It’s why we spent a lot of E3 seeing “VR experiences”, even if they were based on big titles like Fallout and the popular Arkham series of Batman games.
(Resident Evil VII is one of the first games that promises to be fully playable on the PSVR, but it’s got its own issues when it comes to long-term gaming.)
It’s one of the reasons that I was most excited by Star Trek: Bridge Crew. By offering short scenarios as a gaming session, it gives you satisfying gameplay that you can finish before things get too uncomfortable.
I’m still excited by the promise of VR gaming. But as a gamer who likes to travel the Commonwealth in Fallout 4 for hours at a time, I’m still not quite ready to pack a sweat towel to do it.