More than 2 million units sold and loads of ace games on it – what a superb 18 months PlayStation VR has enjoyed.
We were delighted to be right there at the front of it, when our sci-fi tank shooter Battlezone released on PS VR’s launch day. We’ve had such great feedback from the thousands upon thousands of you who strapped yourself into the Cobra cockpit – thank you for playing our game!
Now we’re thrilled to say that even more of you will be able to play Battlezone very soon. That’s because on 1st May we’re releasing Battlezone Gold on PlayStation 4 – the game’s definitive edition.
Not only does Battlezone Gold include all the additional content ever released for the game – we’ll get into that in a bit – but it’ll also make the game playable both with or WITHOUT a VR headset for the first time ever! AND Battlezone owners will automatically upgrade to Battlezone Gold, FREE.
So how did we make a VR game work without VR?
Well, on the development team we could always run Battlezone in “standard 3D” but it was a game designed for VR. In this early state, things still needed a lot of work to make the game work without a headset.
A lot of the work needed to go into what we call user experience and user interface alterations.
With the PSVR headset you have a much expanded field of view, so we worked on putting lots and lots of useful information on the panels that you see all around you in your cockpit – things like your shield status, radar and so on.
For Battlezone Gold we had to find a way of getting all that info back onto a 16 by 9 screen, which was no easy thing!
The first step was emulating the way you look around in the VR version. We added the ability to hold down the right analogue stick so that you can freely look around the tank’s cockpit – a start but not enough. We then cranked up the field of view so that some of the more peripheral information was now more central, which took us further in the right direction.
We also heavily tweaked various parts of our 3D user interface. In the VR version of Battlezone the user interface is all rendered on actual 3D polygons floating in space all around you.
For Battlezone Gold we spent an extensive amount of time adjusting the shapes, positions and animations of these polygons to work in standard 3D, so you can see everything you need to without having to manually adjust the camera.
We really dug into all the little details to make this work – things like increasing the size of various bits of text, reducing the angles on 3D elements to make them more readable and adding code to focus the camera on key areas as and when needed.
It’s the cavalcade of all these adjustments, minor and major, that have come together to get us to a point where Battlezone not only works without a headset, but is really fun too.
One of the more amusing changes came from what happens when you pause the game while on a slope. Because the pause menu is displayed as part of your tank, pausing at an angle means the whole display is at an angle, and that looks really weird outside of VR!
So in Battlezone Gold we temporarily adjust the camera to be level while you do whatever you need to while paused, and then set it back to normal when you restart.
There are loads of little things that we did to make Battlezone Gold work optimally. We added a control input that snaps the camera to your objectives for those frantic moments during gameplay when you need to check your progress while dodging incoming fire.
We improved the signalling of all incoming damage by adding flashing red hit indicators around the radar. We even repositioned all the bobbleheads so that you can see them all without a headset!
And that brings us on nicely to one of the coolest things about Battlezone Gold – namely that all of the additional content ever released for Battlezone is included free!
Whether you’re a new player or a returning one, you’ll receive all the bobbleheads, horns, tank skins and Classic Mode, our homage to the original arcade game, complete with green vector lines and traditional tank controls.
Battlezone Gold has been a long time coming. Redesigning the game so players with PS VR and those without can enjoy it together – yes, you can play together – has been a challenge.
We designed our game to take advantage of an exciting new technology, but we’re equally excited about bringing it to as many players as possible, so we’ve absolutely made sure it’s in tip-top condition for all.