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Battle Royales in Virtual Reality and Full Dive VR

Photo courtesy BigBox VR

In 2018, Ready Player One was released to the public. The film was set in a VR-dominated dystopian society where citizens of this world were immersed and addicted to the escapism that virtual reality provided. What’s significant to highlight is that in the film’s first couple of minutes battle royale games are seen played on virtual reality sets, the same battle royales we see on both PCs and consoles today.

The idea of a battle royale in VR today is not entirely crazy; society isn't too far off from the world of Ready Player One. The film presented the creation of Full Dive Virtual Reality, which today’s technology is edging closer to handling. 

Even though the fictional depiction of a society distorted by VR doesn’t provide a hopeful outcome of the advancements of virtual reality, especially when matched with stress-inducing games like battle royales, that stress is actually viewed by behavioral professionals to be positive in which players are able to handle stress in other environments outside of VR. In addition, it creates an alternative skill set that can help assist players in the ever-advancing technological age.

The side effects of integrating battle royale games into VR can also harm players. When considering how influential the world of streaming and popular figures are, followers can make poor decisions following in the footsteps of their favorite content creators.

When considering the interest of VR today, there’s not a large community that is invested in the technology presented. It’s mostly utilized for its chatting capabilities and some rhythm games. No one knows how the intersection of the battle royale community and the VR community would impact the video game industry. Certain factors that contribute to general interest are accessibility, quality, and reputability. Most professional battle royale players are very specific with the systems that they game on; switching to VR would mean the console would have to provide a different element that players haven’t experienced before in order to commit themselves to playing in virtual reality.

What is Full Dive Virtual Reality?

Full Dive virtual reality is a concept that was coined in the famous manga and anime series, Sword Art Online. Initially published in 2002, eight years before the first real consumer-based virtual reality headsets were released to the public, this series takes place in a world where gamers now use a virtual reality headset called NerveGear to go into a nearly unconscious state and enter a video game, being fully immersed in the world that they are being exposed to.

Even though Full Dive VR may be a concept that seems unattainable currently, that’s not necessarily the case. Many in the industry suspect that its debut will only be in a couple of years from now.

The impact of Full Dive VR can change the way individuals play video games, possibly becoming one of the main ways in which gamers play, being competitors to that of PCs or consoles.

It could also just become a fad, much like the Wii had disappeared in such a short period. Full Dive VR is truly only appealing to an audience who wishes for a very specific kind of escapism.

With Full Dive VR, players can become fully immersed in battle royale games. That interactivity can make the experience of becoming the character feel more realistic, breaking that connection from controller and keyboard to screen. With some recognition that the outside world is still there, the overall quality of Full Dive VR battle royale can change the landscape of how players view video games in a cinematic way, as well as provide a new perspective on how players play with certain characters.

Certain technologies demonstrate how close we are to making Full Dive VR a reality. Considering other efforts such as the Oculus today, as well as past efforts with motion sensor technology with Xbox One Kinect Sensor, it pushes the realm of possibility to Full Dive VR that much closer.

Is There Interest for Battle Royales in VR?

The curiosity is there; many players when given the chance will try battle royales in a VR setting. Otherwise, long-term use is debatable, as that immersion depends on the type of person who uses it. Escapism is not always what everyone seeks when playing video games. 

Twitch streamer, professional Apex player, and artist, Ethan ‘Escape’ Cantor contributed to the overall interest that players might have in battle royales in VR. In an interview, he stated that, “there would be an interest, but only on a casual level.”

Ethan also added that full immersion can be a little too immersive and that it fits only certain kinds of people. To compare, people who skydive are similar to those who would be willing to take that step into a Full Dive world.

And for many players, there is a certain amount of control and appreciation between the screen and controller or the screen and keyboard with the mouse. As there’s a distance, there’s also a detachment. Players can reduce the amount that they're invested and absorbed in a game, a danger that VR has the potential to suffer from.

Accessibility of VR

Looking at the market of VR console sets, many are hesitant in making that leap and buying one for themselves simply because the price can leave a considerable hole in one’s wallet. The decline in pricing has seen a noticeable trend with the release of the Oculus 2, priced around $300. Many virtual reality sets today are priced over $800 to $1000.

When considering the price that a Full Dive VR set might cost, it will most likely make many individuals turn to other, more reputable devices and companies such as Xbox, PlayStation, and Meta, and even opt for more substantial systems like PCs.

And with a certain stigma already built against VR sets, paying that price will be a factor for many individuals, especially gamers.

Cognitive Changes from Battle Royales in VR

When considering the effects of battle royales, the impact it already has in today’s world can be viewed in quite a positive light. In the University of California, Irvine news, an article was posted about how 3D games like Fortnite Battle Royale or Super Mario 3D World had performed better in memory tests after 30 minutes of playing, compared to that of 2D games like Angry Birds.

The increase in memory recognition was about a 12 percent jump, which is roughly the same amount it normally decreases between the ages of 45 and 70.

And it’s not just memory that has increased when playing 3D games like Fortnite, but hand-eye coordination as well, creating a group of better decision-makers. In a study by the University of Rochester, researchers have found that when splitting up a group of 18 to 25-year-olds into two different games, one group played Call of Duty 2 while the other was playing The Sims 2, the group that was playing Call of Duty 2 had made decisions 25 percent faster as was more accurate.

One aspect that many have considered to be a negative attribute to battle royales is the stress and anxiety the games could cause. But when recognizing the actual impact, battle royales like Fortnite induce a “positive stress” in which players are better equipped to handle situations as well as be more motivated to perform tasks. This “positive stress” makes individuals more focused in real life.

With all these positive aspects of battle royales, how does this relate to VR? Well, virtual reality has been notoriously known as a behavioral research tool to assist in therapeutic techniques that help face phobias, fears, and disorders. Specifically targeting anxiety disorders, VR can create and simulate an environment not too different from a world that triggers anxiety. As researchers and neuroscientists had discovered in a study:

“... consumer-targeted VR hardware platforms signals an opportune time to develop the next generation of VR exposure therapies for widespread dissemination as self-help applications and integration into regular health care settings.” VR can assist those with disorders to process and assess how to treat themselves because of these behavioral discoveries.

Bridging battle royale games and VR can provide an interesting cognitive experience. With the positive aspects of both systems, it can be quite therapeutic to have battle royale games in VR, and maybe the idea of escapism applies, but it’s much more significant to address how that escapism benefits players in the real world.

Negative Influences of Making Battle Royale VR into Content

With the integration of battle royale games in VR, it’s hard not to address the elephant in the room: the negative effects these two might have on society. 

Ethan Cantor provided an interesting insight into the way content in live streaming and popular figures may affect the way other individuals absorb such content and the dangers that follow.

Providing a recent example of Twitch streamer, iiTzTimmy, who had performed a 58-hour marathon to reach Predator rank in the game Apex Legends. Being able to reach such a feat is seemingly impossible, and also very unhealthy. The streamer had confirmed to his audience and the media that he was approved by his doctors to attempt this speedrun. 

What followed were other content creators trying to copy iiTzTimmy and attempting to do a similar marathon, without checking in with medical professionals. This domino effect of having one popular streamer influence small-time streamers to reach fame is not uncommon. But as these unhealthy habits are deemed “normal” or “achievable” by any standard person, it poses a problem for battle royales in VR.

While VR and battle royales may have their roles as positive influences on individuals, it’s also important to balance the two in terms of playtime. When releasing a consumer-based VR system with battle royales, making the system a competitive object in which people strive for greatness can cause a whirlwind of problems similar to that of iiTzTimmy.

This was seen when University of California, Santa Cruz graduate research student, Grayson Mullen, had stated in an article: “I stopped playing the game, and I realized that I had no idea how much time had passed… I was worried that I had played for too long because I couldn't even guess if it had been 10 minutes or 40 minutes.”

VR can be a slippery slope even without battle royale games to provide an essence of addictiveness. The simulation of real-life can alter the perspective people have of time and space. Considering the competitive nature of battle royales, nobody truly wants to play them forever. They cause fatigue and exhaustion with their high intensive action. Players hopefully step away from the system once in a while, so as not to be influenced by other streamers in thinking that playing for long periods is healthy.

Are Battle Royales Games Ready to be Put in VR Currently?

VR is not ready to have a high-graphics, high-performance battle royale. And it’s not even the fault of the systems for not being ready, but the games themselves. Popular battle royale games like Apex Legends or even Fortnite are built on systems that have their own set of problems, not equipped to handle the interactivity that VR has.

Even though what players see on computers may not be the quality they see in VR, the potential exists. Games like Population One have been released specifically for Oculus and have gotten a wide range of responses, mostly positive, as Chemical_Grits reviewed the game, “A Spiritual Successor to Fortnite.” Many believe that Population One can become a hit if they included ranked games. The issue is, why has no one heard of this game? 

Population One is an Oculus-based game and does not even compare to the likes of Apex or Fortnite in terms of popularity. Simply, Population One hasn’t been on the radar of many battle royale players because it isn’t noted in the current media as the next biggest hit. And even though the quality is pretty impressive from where VR is at, companies like Respawn Entertainment and Epic Games can use their efforts to make a more reliable battle royale in VR, hopefully bringing in a new audience to the scene.

This dream of having these popular battle royale games in VR may come after the integration of battle royales on consoles, but of course, this trend is already happening and at a rapid pace. As games like Apex and Fortnite have crossed over from PCs to consoles like Xbox, PlayStation, and even the Nintendo Switch, these consoles have yet to see the likes of popular games such as Valorant or League of Legends.

So it's not just that the VR technology isn’t here to support these video games, it's also the technology of the video games themselves and who builds them. Games like Fallout 4 or Minecraft have brought in fans from other platforms to specifically buy VR sets and play them. Perhaps it’s because these games have the makings of a fully immersed world. Regardless, they still attracted fans to go out of their way and buy the systems.

The bridge between VR and battle royales is not really in the current market today, as can be seen with PlayerUnknown Battleground. Given the option to play in VR, the overall quality makes the game barely playable. What is needed to make the jump is an upgrade in not just battle royales, but virtual reality systems as well. 

Full Dive VR can provide the full immersion and optimal game mechanics that players need to play a battle royale in VR. It’s just a matter of developers and game production companies being ready to take that next step along with Full Dive VR to make that immersion possible.

Battle Royales in VR is Not a Hopeless Dream

The development of the VR system to provide a suitable experience of gaming has been a goal for many VR developers for quite some time. The integration of battle royales into VR doesn’t seem too crazy, making it very possible to see battle royales in their future, either with the current systems we have or with Full Dive virtual reality. What’s necessary is maturity and time for both elements to progress.

No matter how long we’ve had battle royales and VR, their progressions in technological advancement have been quite impressive, but interest in their smooth integration of each other will have fans waiting. Hopefully, not for long, considering that Full Dive VR is seemingly just around the corner and that battle royales can potentially find a place for themselves in a world of immersion and exploration.

As technology advances, so is the possibility of how players experience video games, and hopefully, with Full Dive VR, players do not fulfill the dystopian ideals that existed in Ready Player One, but instead, battle royales can be played at high-quality, greater accessibility, and with awareness of the mental impacts the system can cause.