The Assembly: E3 2015 Hands-on Reactions
Unless you’re used to calling the underside of a rock your home, then you will no doubt be aware that the fabulous/infamous (depending on how jaded a gamer you are) E3 Expo took place in Los Angeles earlier this month.
More than that, you’ve no doubt kept abreast of all the latest revelations and announcements to come out of the show. And what a show it was! There were surprises to astonish and amaze gamers from all backgrounds and given nDreams is not immune to hype-train fever either, we have a few personal favourites of our own here at the studio too (*cough*FinalFantasy7Remake*cough*).
We’ve pulled together some of the most thought-provoking editorial features about what this year’s E3 means for VR in a separate blog post. Today, however, we wanted to share with you just some of the hands-on impressions we received from attendees who came and tried out The Assembly in the Concourse Hall of the L.A. Convention Center.
Please do spare a thought for nDreams’ bigwigs Patrick and DC, who demonstrated the game with such aplomb (look it up, kids) – it must have be so gruelling to have spent a whole week soaking up the California sunshine when not being dazzled by the sights and sounds of the greatest games show on earth. Our hearts bleed…
The VR revolution has been televised
Video interviews are always a mixture of fun and nerves, especially as they’re simply not part of our day-to-day life here at the studio. We jumped at the chance to push Patrick in front of as many cameras as we could at E3 so he could not just tell you about The Assembly, but show it too, providing a side-order of context to go with your main helping of razzle-dazzle.
Patrick spoke with IGN and gave them a guided tour (press love guided tours) around sections taken from the first couple of levels in the game, as well as sharing a glimpse into what further locations might have in store for players.
He also spoke with Polygon about what’s involved in crafting a compelling adventure for VR, some of the common misconceptions about this emerging technology and what the future might hold for the medium.
Last, but by no means least, Patrick joined (Oculus founder) Palmer Luckey and (PlayStation’s Directorof Portfolio Strategy) John T. Drake on the Giant Bomb couch to record a special live broadcast covering virtual reality, E3’s astonishing assortment of games, plus way more besides. Jump to the 24 minute mark to reach their segment.
The experts put The Assembly under the microscope
When guiding visitors around the Assembly’s bunker, we were sure to point out aspects of the game built especially for VR – virtual environments demand highly detailed textures so that objects look as though they’re made out of the same materials as in real life. Given that we only had around 30 minutes for each appointment, we also gave players a shortcut by pointing them in the right direction when it came to solving some of the game’s puzzles – the background hum of E3 was a far cry from Cal’s sterile laboratory in level 2 or Madeleine’s eerie puzzle chamber in level 3.
For a good idea of what all our E3 demos involved, check out this piece by Kill Screen: The Assembly wants to be your first VR experience.
We were over the moon when we found out Kotaku had named The Assembly one of the the six most interesting games they played on day one of E3, which we think is one heck of an achievement to be listed alongside the likes of No Man’s Sky and Metal Gear Solid V.
Everyone seemed very impressed that in VR, you can physically lean in to take a closer look at in-game objects. This was highlighted by Gaming Nexus, who described the experience as making players “truly feel as if you've become a character in the game world. The simple act of looking down at your character's feet instantly transports you to a time and place in a completely different world. The act of walking up close to a mannequin and than learning your head forward to examine its facial details is simply amazing with the virtual reality element.”
We especially wanted to convey how well we think adventure games work in VR, given how close they simulate real life – in both, you’re mostly exploring environments while interacting with people and objects (as opposed to, say, finding cover to duck behind with bullets flying all around while trying to lob a grenade with precision aiming). So you can imagine how thrilled we are to see GamingNexus say, “The Assembly truly looks and feels like the next generation of adventure games. The ability to simply walk around in an environment and use your head's movement to examine clues is something that non-virtual reality games haven't been able to accomplish."
Since we’re busy patting ourselves on the back, we’d be remiss to pass on this extraordinarily generous compliment from HardcoreGamer, who write, “So many publishers and developers had their own virtual reality showing at the event last week, almost to an alarming degree, but very few impressed us as nDreams’ The Assembly did” before going on to describe The Assembly as, “one of the most impressive demos we’ve seen for VR, containing incredible detail the environments that’s almost fully interactable.”
Aw, shucks… now you’ve gone and made us blush.
Like us, they agree there’s a lot of potential for an adventure game built around VR – we think it’s paying attention to all the little details that will help us make an as close to real-life experience as possible. Hardcore Gamer picked up on this too, saying “Sound awareness, fully interactable environments and a slew of other features, The Assembly brings VR to a whole other level.”
Overall, E3 was a marvellous experience all round – it’s a great feeling to be rubbing shoulders with some of the videogame industry’s biggest movers and shakers. We’ve come away both revitalised and with plenty of incredibly valuable observations from our attendees that we’re already using to help shape the final few stretch of the game’s development… a subject for a future blog, perhaps!