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WizPop Minute: Microsoft's Mixed Reality Opens up the World of Halo

By Blair Marnell

WizPop Minute: Microsoft's Mixed Reality Opens up the World of Halo

While the concept of virtual reality has enticed sci-fi fans for decades, the reality of VR is that we’re still very far behind what was initially predicted. But the future is getting closer and closer, and now Microsoft is throwing its hat into the virtual ring with its Windows Mixed Reality headsets. And what better way to get gamers to buy it then by letting them enter the world of Halo?

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled Halo: Recruit, the first ever Halo VR experience. Note we said “experience,” and not a game. That’s because this won’t be a full fledged first-person leap into the epic battles of Halo and you can’t play as Master Chief. It’s not even a vacation home on Reach during the invasion! Instead, it’s just a taste of that world, but it could eventually lead to a much more ambitious Halo VR game. 

343 industries created Halo Recruit, and they’re openly excited about the possibilities of a Halo VR title. But it sounds like that might be years away from happening unless the project has already been underway for some time. That’s the critical dilemma facing Microsoft. It’s jumping into VR without the benefit of a game that would be guaranteed to sell its new headsets. In fact, the only way that VR gaming is going to exit its infancy is when both Sony and Microsoft give virtual reality the same attention that they give to their other titles.

Sony has squandered its lead with the Playstation 4 VR headset. If Sony had more VR games, it could have had an insupportable lead over its rival. Instead, Microsoft has a chance to get back into the race. That said, it’s hard to see either VR system making a serious dent in the marketplace until there are games truly worth buying.

If gaming history is any indication, many of the first VR titles will be remakes or re-imaginings of titles like Halo. That’s not a bad thing, and the idea of starring in our own Halo epic definitely sounds like a lot of fun. As our editor-in-chief, Brian Walton, notes in today’s WizPop Minute, we’ve already got a version of Cortana in reality. With VR, the possibilities increase exponentially. Although we have to agree with Brian that a Cortana dating sim would probably be a bad idea for the future of humanity.

There are only so many franchises that can easily make the transition to VR. Plus, rehashing the hits of the past can only take VR so far. In the long run, Microsoft and Sony really need to create a series of original games that fully utilize the capabilities of VR, even in their currently limited forms. The name of the game is fun, and gamers aren’t going to dive into these consoles for glorified demos that feel incomplete. Just because VR may be the way of the future doesn’t mean that it’s the only future. Sometimes, the only way forward is forward, no matter how many awkward games it takes to get there. If the primitive video games of the ‘80s led us here, then just imagine what VR games could look like within the next five to ten years. Getting that summer house on Reach doesn’t seem as far away as it used to be.

Image: Microsoft