While most VR games so far are approximations, experiments, or riffs on traditional games, The Golf Club VR could be the first true killer app.
Plant your feet, shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees a little. An imaginary transverse line across the tips of your toes should be pointing towards the target. Now, address the ball with the club, keeping the face square and pointing towards the target. With your weight evenly distributed and a comfortable grip on the club, commence your swing, and whatever you do, keep your eye on the ball.
That’s how golf is supposed to work, but in video games, we’ve had some pretty ropey control mechanisms. From timing several button presses to waggling analogue sticks back and forth, the closest we’ve ever come to a proper golf swing is with the Wii – even that could be subverted by a lazy player, sitting down and flicking their wrist.
But VR is where sport games will get their chance to shine. While action games are off giving people motion sickness and shooters are still trying to figure out how the hell shooting and moving can work together in VR, sports games have their mechanics covered.
Pool Nation VR, since renamed Sports Bar VR (because you can do lots more in it than just play pool) is a great example of this. The use of pool queues translates pretty naturally into VR – except for the ever-present danger of falling through an imaginary pool table, of course – but being able to wander around and interact with your environment in a fun and playful way is where VR excels. You can play darts, skee-ball, air hockey, or even just hurl a bar stool at your buddy to try and put them off.
The Golf Club VR – follow-up to the surprise hit of last year The Golf Club by HB Studios – is also looking rather promising. For starters there’s going to be the most realistic golf video game swing mechanic we’ve ever seen, with the HTC Vive’s touch controller and head tracking working in tandem to make the ball behave just like it would in real life. However that could be a blessing as well as a curse: never before has your average gamer had to know how to actually swing a golf club to actually be able to play a golf video game. Keep your weight spread evenly and your head down, or you’ll be heading for hazards.
Thankfully there are also going to be neat diversions, just like Sports Bar VR. For an extra dose of realism you hold your scorecard in your hand in The Golf Club VR, but if you’re having a bad day, you can throw it away in disgust. Similarly, you can toss a club into your bag if you’re feeling swish, or chuck your driver into a lake in a fit of rage. Never before has a game seemed quite so capable of capturing the realities of a good walk ruined.
It’s this mix of beautiful environments and realistic gameplay – combined with a sense of flair and fun with the medium – that gives The Golf Club VR such promise. We can’t wait to get our hands on this one.
The Golf Club VR is expected to launch in late 2016, for PC as an HTC Vive exclusive.. You can buy its non-VR forebear, The Golf Club Collector’s Edition, from Amazon now.