Microsoft unveiled lots of gaming news today by lifting the embargo on last week's Xbox Showcase, held in San Francisco, and included a juicy bit of news: the arrival of Minecraft in VR for the Oculus Rift, complete with a descriptive text of the experience.
Minecraft should no longer be a stranger to any modern gamer, or anyone with children who game in the last couple of years: the build-it-all sandbox game from developer Mojang (which Microsoft bought) has been an absolutely hit with kids and creative souls everywhere, so much so that it's been hailed as 'virtual LEGO'. Oculus Rift is the most famous of all VR equipment set, with a commercial version shipping soon along with an Xbox controller.
So what do we get when combining these two popular gaming icons? With its unique blocky visual that borders on simplistic, how does Minecraft translate to a VR game? Apparently, according to Nick Statt of The Verge, an immersive, but flawed experience. The less-than-realistic visuals of Minecraft, along with the low resolution, reportedly make it "more fluid and natural" to move inside of the game, something cited often as a weak spot of VR gaming.
Since it's so unreal, however, disconnectedness seems to become a problem as the brain tries to reconcile its former knowledge of the world with visions of pixelated blocks, made worse by the forced use of the included Xbox One controller for field of view control. A non-first-person 'VR theater' mode seems to alleviate the issue, and it will reportedly be how Xbox One games are streamed on the Oculus Rift.
Minecraft has never been demonstrated for VR, instead always accompanying the future of Microsoft HoloLens for entertainment, so the news is interesting, yet understandable. With the AR headset still out of consumers' reach for quite a while yet, and no VR from Redmond in sight, Microsoft would want a foot in the potential market - with its most accessible franchise to date.
Minecraft is also one of the few VR titles that wasn't originally designed for the medium, so it will carry all the potentials and the warts - the latter of which Oculus will need to address if it wants the technology to fulfill its potential in gaming.
Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition with Oculus Rift support will be available through the Windows Store and Oculus Store this spring.