Microsoft blew many minds at E3 this year with its demonstration of Minecraft on its augmented reality headset, the Hololens. Okay, Sony put on a good show by announcing a remake of Final Fantasy VII, a Kickstarter for Shenmue 3, and showing The Last Guardian for the first time in six years, but just take a look at this:
That video of Minecraft has had me breaking out in smiles all week because I keep seeing games that could be a perfect fit for Hololens. Here's just a few of them.
1. Banner Saga 2
The Banner Saga is an easy fit, it's a turn-based strategy game that's already a lot like chess. It's easy to imagine a holographic board laid out on your kitchen table where, instead of rooks and pawns, there are richly animated Vikings wielding axes and bows. And, unlike chess, those boards can be plains covered in deep snow, with gusts of wind unsettling the surface of the field, or the inside of a fire lit banner hall, its walls lined with clansmen spectators.
In fact, many turn-based strategy could work in this way. Picture XCOM 2's futuristic Earth built up on the table before your eyes. Or looking at a rotating holographic globe showing the alien forces spread across the planet.
We don't need to look far for an example of how games like The Banner Saga and XCOM could work; Star Wars has already helped there:
I love the idea of slipping on the Hololens and seeing my dinner table arranged with brutish warriors eagerly awaiting my orders.
When one card attacks another in Hearthstone there's a simple animation to relay what happened, a particle effect or two. What if, like in the Yu-Gi-Oh! cartoon, placing a card on the table saw a full 3D version of your creature rise out of the card, one that will attack the enemy on command?
We're seeing a real resurgence in games like Magic: The Gatheriing, Hearthstone, and Hex, particularly in the competitive scene. Spectating card games could be a lot more entertaining with a few holographic demons thrown in.
3. Dota 2
Speaking of spectating, you can already spectate Dota 2 games through Twitch very easily, but when you do, your view of the action is restricted to whatever the broadcaster thinks is interesting. What you see is snapshots of individual players, so it can often be hard to get a grasp of the overall play of both teams.
Imagine if you had a view of the whole map, as though it was sprawled across your living room floor. You could move in closer to look at single players or pull back and look over the whole thing, like a god surveying his subjects fighting for his amusement.
Which leads me on to...
4. From Dust
Ubisoft's From Dust was the last good god game (sorry Godus). You played a deity who could raise mountains that could burst into volcanoes or carve deep channels into the earth, making rivers to the sea. Spread before you was a population of worshippers who would build cities in your honour.
Don't you want to be able to have that all happen in your home in holographic 3D, using the Hololens' gesture controls to literally pull mountains out of the ground or flatten them with your palm?
It wouldn't only work with god games but city builders, too. SimCity already used a tilt shifted art style to make its buildings and roads look like miniature toys. Adapting a city builder to work in Hololens would would tap into what it was like to build Lego cities in your room as a child.
Even management sims, like Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital, and Prison Architect, would be wonderful to watch. Imagine seeing ant-like agents scuttling across your floor, going about their business.
Mashed came out back in 2004 and no racing game has ever beaten its particular brand of joy. You and three friends all drove tiny toy cars round a world filled with weapon pick ups, ridiculous jumps, and exploding environments. The tracks were short loops that you kept circling until there was only one car left on the road.
I'd love to be able to sit in a room with friends and have a Mashed level raise out of the floor for us to race round. It's basically a holographic Micro Machines set. With explosions. Mashed (or a game like it) on Hololens would convince me on a day-one buy.
We've seen only a brief glimpse of the Hololens in action but it's got me bubbling with the possibilities of augmented reality.