When a good chunk of gamers think about the potential of consumer-grade virtual reality hardware, they jump immediately to the idea of the ultimate first-person action game. Since before Doom, gamers have been envisioning the ability to see what their character sees and move with free reign in a virtual environment that takes over their entire visual field, rather than being confined to a small, flat monitor. While Oculus and others have warned that simply porting an unaltered game to run on VR hardware can lead to severe problems with nausea and playability, that hasn't stopped developers and fans from pursuing the goal of making a virtual reality games that are truly "first-person."
Enter Techland, which announced in December that it would add Oculus Rift support to its zombie-survival-meets-parkour game Dying Light. This isn't the first big-budget title to have a VR mode—Alien Isolation included Rift support through a hidden switch, for instance. But Techland and publisher Warner Bros. seemed eager to use VR as a selling point for Dying Light, going so far as to put David Bell, the originator of parkour, into a Rift headset to see what running around was like in virtual reality. "It was like being ten again," Bell said in a promotional video. "I didn't want to stop. ... For me it was magical, amazing."
With all due respect to Mr. Bell, we have to disagree with his magical impression. After a few hours of testing, we have to say that playing Dying Light in virtual reality is a frustrating, nauseating mess that has us questioning what kinds of games are really going to work in virtual reality.