A few years ago, the suggestion of a ‘virtual reality’ stadium in FIFA would be laughed at.
Now though, it’s a very real possibility.
After all, why play a game using the ‘default camera’ when a VR headset could propel you into the stands, just like you’re watching the real thing?
It’s such a compelling prospect that Oculus Rift co-founder Nate Mitchell described FIFA and VR as the ‘perfect fit’.
He once told Eurogamer: “You can imagine sitting in the stands and confetti is raining down… and the four of us are sitting right next to each other and we’re controlling the players on the field — that would be an awesome VR experience.”
But just how likely is it to happen in FIFA 19?
Well, VR has well and truly taken off – with 21 million dedicated VR headsets expected to be sold by 2020.
Sony’s PlayStation VR headset has proven particularly popular – which is great news for gamers.
Since launch they’ve shifted more than 1,000,000 units – already beating their six-month target.
While the company already has a host of VR-focused games, they’re arguably still to land that true triple-A title.
FIFA 19 could be the perfect platform to propel the hardware firmly into the mainstream – especially as the company look to further capitalise on the beefed up PS4 Pro.
But for those hoping that VR will replace the controller, that’s still some way off.
EA’s Sebastian Enrique told Trusted Reviews they “haven’t found something that beats the experience when you have a controller in your hands”.
Where VR could be implemented, though, is through a camera angle – perhaps exclusive to PS4 / PC versions.
This could essentially place the player amongst fans in the stands – putting them next to a few well-rendered fans, and giving them ability to look around their seat.
They would play the game as per usual, only players would be further away – with the entire pitch visible.
Sounds great, right? But there’s a kicker.
FIFA 18 has already come under fire for input lag – which is the time taken for a button press to result in an on-screen action.
By implementing VR, it’ll likely add to this delay – not by much (a few microseconds or so), but it could make all the difference to gameplay.
As Enrique explains: “It’s tricky. The problem is that you still have lag.
“When you play a game like FIFA it really depends on reaction time and on reading the game.”
Still, as the technology continues to advance, issues such as lag should, in theory, become a thing of the past.
Whether VR makes an appearance this year is still uncertain but one thing’s for sure… it’s going to happen – sooner, rather than later.
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