Oculus Demos Minecraft for Gear VR, Complete with a Side of Nausea
Since its purchase by Microsoft in 2014, Minecraft has regularly been pushed to new platforms such as Windows 10, Wii U, and Fire TV. In that spirit, Microsoft-owned Mojang has been developing virtual- and augmented-reality versions of the blocky sandbox game.
Recently, Oculus, whose technology powers the Samsung Gear VR, demoed a modified Minecraft Pocket Edition for the Gear VR at GDC 2016. Early reviews have found that its first-person nature introduces a big potential for nausea, but the game can certainly be enjoyable if you're fine with the controls.
Check out the gameplay video below for a better idea, courtesy of the guys over at Polygon (note that they're using the Oculus rather than the Gear VR).
You're able to play in either a full VR or Cinema mode. The former puts you inside your Minecraft character, providing an immersive experience. In Cinema mode, Minecraft is placed on a virtual display inside a virtual room.
To operate your character, you have to use an external Bluetooth game pad for some of the controls, though you're able to look around by moving your head and body. The process of looking around is where players have reported issues related to nausea.
As you move your head, you're met with a fairly smooth experience, but unless you're sitting in a swivel chair, you'll need to supplement your movement with joystick controls.
The Minecraft team has restricted movements with the joystick to individual partial rotations, meaning all transitions are choppy and may cause nausea. That form of movement, called "comfort mode," is common with first-person VR games. Comfort mode is optional, but it's effectively required with some setups.
For those who can handle it, Minecraft for Gear VR can be extremely fun. If you're primarily exploring instead of building, it's possible to largely avoid the choppy joystick transitions. As such, players have reported Minecraft for Gear VR can offer a nice experience.
Compared to playing on a mobile device or desktop, it's also far more terrifying (and cool) to be confronted with a giant spider, creeper, Enderman, or skeleton in VR.
Minecraft for Gear VR will arrive at some point in the spring, and when it does, you'll be able to play with friends who are on Minecraft for mobile, Windows 10, or Oculus Rift.