It’s been nearly 8 years since the last installment in the popular combat-driven Medal of Honor series. Like another popular FPS series that is coming back from the dead (you know the one), it will be exclusively available in Virtual Reality. Tasked with the development of this game is Respawn Entertainment, the studio behind such games as Titanfall, Apex Legends, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Set in the time of WW2, Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond is a single player VR shooter that will be exclusive to the Oculus Rift platform. More than just combat in historic situations, Respawn is trying to tell a story by including 360 video footage and interviews with combat veterans in the studio’s first attempt at Virtual Reality.
As reported by UploadVR just last week, Respawn has shown concern about making the act of harming another human too realistic. Respawn CEO Vince Zampella told the LA Times “As fidelity gets better and VR gets more immersive, you kind of feel like you’re there. That translates to, ‘Am I harming another more realistic-looking human?’ That’s something we’re going to have to be very wary of,” bringing back the old and familiar argument of the psychological impact of violence in Video Games.
It wasn’t long ago that I would have laughed at such an idea. Could something you see on a screen really desensitize you to real life violence? Of course not. Right?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Is there a difference between killing a human on a 2D screen and a VR headset? As someone who uses a virtual reality headset on a daily basis, I’d be inclined to agree with Respawn’s “Very Wary” approach. Perhaps there is a difference between using the R2 button on a controller and using a virtual representation of your real hands to kill a realistic looking human being. The thing that sets VR apart from more traditional gaming methods is the added layer of immersion, feeling like you are the character in the game. While this is obviously an opinion piece, backed by zero scientific evidence, it will be interesting to see if long-term studies on the matter are conducted. How do you feel about hyper-realistic violence in VR? Please share your take in the comments.