Category Archives: PlayStation VR

NeonHAT Review – PlayStation VR

Neon Hat is like a trip back to 1985 to experience the 2021 we thought the future was going to be.  If that sounds like a mind-bender then it totally fits the bill when describing Neon Hat – a mind-blowing VR racing game from Spain’s Entalto Studios that will leave players nostalgic about the golden days of CGI.

There’s no denying Neon Hat is going for the 80’s aesthetic – and boy does it achieve it.  What the developers call a “low-poly neon world” those of us who were teens in the 80’s will instantly recognize the wire-frame, vector-style graphics as themes straight out of the worlds of Tempest, Star Wars Arcade, and Disney’s cyber-epic love story Tron.  Hel, there’s even some Space Invaders and Miami Vice thrown in the mix.  It’s like a trip down memory lane inside of a VR helmet.

As mentioned, Neon Hat is a VR racing game – but not one like we’ve seen before.  Combining the flying suit of Iron Man with independent jet engine thrusters in each hand (Move controllers), Neon’s Hat’s H.A.T. operator must compete in a series of races, shooting games, and boss battles to beat the game and win the prestigious Net Races competition.  The 3D enclosed racing circuits are decorated with precisely-positioned speed boost hoops which are utterly necessary to beat the three tough competitors.

The dual-thruster control mechanics may seem intuitive during the initial tutorial runs – simply point the thrusters, pull the trigger, and go.  But as the turn become tighter, and elevation comes into play, the control mechanics quickly become a bit confusing – about the closes comparison I can think would be navigating the swimming scenes in Uncharted – the buttons make perfect sense, you keep hitting the wrong buttons under pressure.

For instance, pointing the thruster left will certainly steer you leftward, but doing so too much will most likely slam you into one of the invisible wireframe walls that defines the edge of the course, severely affecting the speed.  In order to actually turn left, you must press the circle face button while pointing left, but if held too long the speed will likewise be severely affected.  It’s a constant dance, aiming the moves, feathering the accelerator, and tapping the turn.  With proper timing there is the ability to perform a kart-racing style powerslide speed boost, but very few times did the stars ever align for that to work for me.

Neon Hat features 10 different racing circuits which can be played in any one of the three base gameplay modes – Race, Pursuit, and Extreme Derby.  Race is the standard player versus bot racers (3), Pursuit has gamers chasing Data Snatcher all while shooting down the Space Invader-themed drones that protect it.  Those two modes can be set to run at either slow, medium, or fast speeds (aka kilobyte, megabyte, and gigabyte, respectively) which really amps up the excitement.  Extreme Derby is already set to gigabyte speed, but with damage turned on for hitting walls and obstacles making it very difficult to complete.

Obviously, with the complexity of VR there is no multiplayer – it’s all gamer vs. bots – but there’s a certain old school nostalgia to that as well.  One shining star are the boss battles that pop up every three races and have a definite feel of dodging fire in a first-person Sega classic Panzer Dragoon.

As alluded to earlier, Neon Hat is a visual treat for an old school gamer like me.  Between the wireframe landscapes, the 8-bit holograms floating by, and the square-brick obstacles in the path, Neon Hat is a visual trip back in time.  The exclusive Synth-Wave soundtrack likewise elicits a nostalgic feeling, albeit thankfully more along the lines of early 2010’s Daft Punk than of 1980’s Jan Hammer.  The music is hypnotic and warm without coming across as cheesy or contrived.

I had a pretty good time playing Neon Hat.  It’s certainly not one of the best racing games on the PS4, nor is it one of the best VR games on PSVR, but as a complete package of gameplay and presentation it’s totally worth checking out because it oozes cool.  And for those old school gamers who remember this stuff, you will have blast travelling back in time to look at the future we thought would be here already.

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Fracked Review – PlayStation VR

The PSVR system has been seeing a surprise surge in quality releases as of late, and not the least of which is Fracked, the stellar new first-person shooter (FPS) from the VR-exclusive developer nDreams.  Fracked isn’t your run-of-the-mill on-rails House of the Dead style light-gun shooter that we have become accustomed to in the VR realm – it’s a full-on, free-roaming, acrobat climbing, dynamite exploding, ski-slope escaping romp that is so awesomely immersive that you just might feel like throwing up.

Sadly, I’m not joking.

Fracked is the most awesome VR game that I simply cannot play for more than 30 minutes in a sitting, because on every occasion I end up with something along the lines of seasickness, which is a real bummer because it is such an amazing experience…the game – not the seasickness.

Fracked starts off by immediately instructing gamers that the intended way to play is in the sitting position. Sitting is an absolute must, as the game’s frenetic 360° action would surely result in more than a few accidents with standing gamers.  Fracked then has players link a PlayStation Move controller to each hand (two are required) and re-center the perspective using the Start button.

It’s right about there that the basic tutorial ends, as gamers are immediately throw into a white-knuckle ski run down the side of a mountain trying to keep ahead of an ensuing avalanche.  Having played a couple VR ski games in my time, Fracked delivers one of the better attempts at capturing the thrilling excitement sport – which comes into play more than once in the game.

Upon escaping the avalanche, gamers are thrust into the traditional FPS portion of the game – armed at first with a liberated pistol, and eventually a similarly liberated SMG, gamers traverse through mountaintop factory crawling with blue-faced baddies looking for a fight.  They aren’t the smartest of foes – they run right up on you like zombies looking for brains – but they aren’t the easiest to take down either, so each wave poses a difficult, yet exhilarating, challenge.

Making things even more frenetic is the reload mechanic that has gamers slamming magazines and cocking weapons upon each reload.  At first it all feels a bit wonky, but within minutes it becomes a rhythm of shooting, slamming, cocking, shooting, etc.

Movement is managed with the Move controllers, using the face buttons on whichever controller hand isn’t currently holding a gun; If the gun is in the left hand the right hand controls movement, if the gun is in the right hand the left controls movement.  Since guns are often switched from hand to hand to help fire around corners or from cover this contextual control scheme can get a bit hard to wrap your head around.  I found it best to keep the gun in the right hand for the most part and only use the left if I really needed to grab onto something to take cover or to grab a zip line.

And then there’s the climbing – and when I say climbing, I mean Uncharted-level scaling of sheer mountain walls and monkey-bar climbing over bottomless crevasses.  In fact, the climbing is so exciting and innovative that simply watching someone else play through a climbing sequence in Fracked is almost as enjoyable as actually playing it – as they stretch grasp above, below, beside, and behind themselves in what looks like some strange 80’s aerobics arm-workout routine.

But it all was too good apparently, because it was right about 20-30 mins in I started noticing the headset fogging up, the sweat began pouring down my face, and the strange feeling that I was spinning in my seat.  The headset came off and I could hardly walk straight to the bathroom to splash cold water on me.  That first time, I was wrecked for the night – feeling like the time I’d been on a charter fishing boat all day.  I thought I had caught a bug, until the next day when I tried the game again and it all happened again.  I then decided to experiment with my 16yr old son, I said nothing and let him play through, and at about the same spot in the game he suddenly yanked the headset off and said “something’s wrong – I don’t feel right”.  We tried again the next day with the same verdict.

That being said I probably made it through about an hour and a half of the 3-hour action and all queasiness aside, I was thoroughly impressed.  Fracked is an awesome package – it looks great with its cartoon-style graphics, solid voiceovers, and a great soundtrack.  I really wish I could play more of it, and I will over time – but I’d highly suggest gamers at least take a stab at the demo and see for themselves how cool Fracked is.

Synth Riders Review – PlayStation VR

My PSVR getup has been collecting quite a bit of dust this summer, so it was a real chore to get all the cords and cameras and controllers set up again to give the newest rhythm/dance/exercise title Synth Riders a go. But oh boy was it worth it, because Synth Riders might be the best game for the PSVR this side of Astro Bot.

First off – I already can hear you the grumblings of “it looks like Beat Saber” – and yes at first glance there are a lot of similarities between the two VR-based rhythm/dance/exercise titles.  But with only a few minutes of playing, it becomes obvious that Synth Riders is far more about mastering the groove and becoming one with the music, than it is about hacking and slashing your way through a grueling workout.  Synth Riders had me feeling like I’d been transported into a wholly-immersive universe existing somewhere dead center of the classic Rez and Frequency, and maybe well…the world of Tron.

Gameplay is simple – using a pair of color-coded move controllers, the gamer makes contact with similarly color-coded musical notes that appear along the path.  These notes come in the form of single-note spheres to be batted, or as sustained-note rails that must be tracked as they meander up, down and around.  There are obstacles set up along the path that must be avoided by ducking or leaning, adding a bit of whole-body physicality to the groovy dance that inevitably ensues.  Of course, the score is awarded for accuracy, but the real reward is the euphoria you feel from being totally in-tune with the music.

Visually, Synth Riders is incredibly basic, but that’s perfectly OK.  I earlier alluded to the likes of Rez, Frequency, Tron, and Beat Saber, and they all fit into a similar visual aesthetic: a huge, hypnotic, neon-soaked space eliciting a feeling of being stuck inside the innerworkings of a .  Synth Riders shares many of these attributes, but with a bit more background

Offering over 50 songs out of the box (MSRP $25), with an additional 25 available via DLC, there should never be a shortage of music for gamers to enjoy.  While most of the tracks fall into the EDM genre, there are a smattering of punk and rock thrown in to spice things up a bit.  If the 25 DLC songs, they can be purchased either individually ($2 each), as part of one of a handful of multi-song packs ($8 each), or as a complete package with the original game and all the DLC ($52).

Synth Riders also offers gamers the ability to modify their gameplay from the accuracy-based “rhythm” mode, to a velocity-based “force” mode, which is more akin to the likes of Beat Saber. In force mode, it’s the speed and force used to bat the notes away that determines the score.  While this does add another dimension to the gameplay, the rhythm mode was far more rewarding.

If you couldn’t tell already, I had an absolute blast with Synth Riders – and I have to say it’s all about the VR.  If it has simply been a typical screen-based rhythm title, the simplistic visuals and repetitive gameplay probably wouldn’t have kept my interest for longer than an hour or so – but the fact that the Synth Riders universe becomes such an immersive experience under the VR headset, I found myself lost in the game’s unassuming beauty.

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EXCLUSIVE PLAYSTATION®VR RACING GAME NEON HAT IS NOW AVAILABLE ON PLAYSTATION!

Sony Interactive Entertainment España (SIE España) announces that the exclusive PlayStation®VR racing game Neon Hat is now available on PS4/PSVR, also compatible with PS5, as a digital-only title on the PlayStation®Store for $24,99. Developed by Entalto Studios, within Playstation Talents Games Camp Valencia, one of the content accelerators that PlayStation Talents has in Spain, supporting local development in collaboration with Lanzadera.

Immerse yourself in a thrilling VR experience where you will fly at full speed while experiencing a freedom of movement never seen before! Neon Hat is a VR racing game set in a neon world (and featuring an original synthwave soundtrack) where you will play as a H.A.T. operator, competing in the fastest and most prestigious Net Races to climb through global leaderboards and obtain the best score while also shooting down the most dangerous enemies in synth-wave skies.

In NeonHAT you will use PSVR to fly through 10 different circuits —each with its own style— in 3 different game modes, and fight gigantic bosses with dynamic controls to top the immersion and speed sensation. As a H.A.T. Operator you are one of the few people qualified to fly around the Web, and you have decided to become the best racer on the whole Net. However, you are aware that the Web is not a place for the faint of the heart. Several people try to harm those connected through the net by controlling their enormous Ultra Viruses. But it has never bothered you. You know your skill. You know your enemies. And you know you can take them all.

KEY FEATURES

  • Compete against the whole world (with global leaderboards) in this 3D VR racer set in a low-poly neon world.
  • Synth-wave soundtrack and visuals that will immerse you even more in the world of Neon Hat.
  • Play in three different modes: Extreme Derby (a pure racing experience), Race (against three opponents) and Pursuit (where you will have to destroy a Data Snatcher).
  • Roam freely in a 3D VR environment created from scratch where you will experience speed as never before.

The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Aftershocks Update Is Coming on September 23

Skydance Interactive is excited to share that the Aftershocks Update, a free content update to the critically acclaimed VR survival horror title, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, will be available for players to download beginning September 23 across Oculus Quest, PlayStation VR and PC VR headsets.

The Aftershocks Update goes above and beyond a conventional free update, as players will have access to hours of new content in the form of missions, collectibles and survival tools to use as they traverse the undead city of New Orleans. The downloadable content will be available to those that have completed the main campaign in The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners. This update also reinforces Skydance Interactive’s commitment to delivering more exciting content to the hit VR game and crafting one of the most content rich experiences in VR today, with over 20 hours of game time available to owners.

With that in mind, the team at Skydance Interactive is also hard at work on more upcoming content for The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, so stay tuned for further announcements coming soon!

About The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

Developed in partnership with Skybound Entertainment, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is unlike any other game set in The Walking Dead universe, where every challenge players face and decision they make is driven by choice. In order to survive, players must battle the undead, scavenge for food and materials through the flooded ruins of New Orleans and make gut-wrenching choices for themselves and the other survivors.

Players can purchase The Complete Edition of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on the Oculus Quest Platform for $39.99 on the Oculus Store, also available for Oculus Rift cross-buy. The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners is also available for purchase on the game’s official website, for PC VR via Steam or Viveport and for PSVR digitally via the PlayStation Store. Physical copies of The Complete Edition on PSVR are also available to purchase on Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and GameStop.

To stay up to date on news for The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, visit the official website and follow The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Moss: Book II Revealed, Quill returns!

Quill is back! And she’s journeying deep into the hexed castle of the Arcane in Moss: Book II, the highly anticipated follow-up to the smash hit VR game Moss. At the Sony PlayStation global State of Play livestream today, Polyarc revealed that Quill’s adventure is far from over and teased a greater danger from those who seek to unmake the world we’ve grown to adore.

“We were blown away by the reception from fans to the Moss story. Players built an extraordinary bond with Quill. Countless emails, tweets, streams, and fan art postings made us feel like we had created something special,” said Josh Stiksma, principal software engineer and design director, Polyarc. “We’ve since poured our hearts into ensuring Book II is a worthy continuation of Quill’s journey, and hope fans around the world are ready to join Quill in the next chapter of her story.”

Moss: Book II builds upon the story set forth in the platinum-selling Moss video game that ranks as one of the all-time top-rated VR games to date. Having rescued her uncle Argus, Quill’s adventure continues with the revelation that a winged tyrant is hunting her within the hexed castle where her uncle was held captive. But Quill has a plan of her own, one that could finally end the merciless rule of the Arcane and save the world from a great unmaking. Lined with dangerous terrain, challenging puzzles, and enemies twisted in fire and steel, the journey will be trying—filled with triumph and heartbreak alike—but new allies, old friends, and the very nature of the castle itself can offer you help along the way.

“In Moss, players not only guided Quill throughout gameplay, but they also reached into the world as their own character—their every action had an impact. Players return to this role in Book II and it’s our hope that they are once again reminded of the joy of physical interaction and the power of emotional feedback they can experience within VR,” said Stiksma. “And it’s that immersion that makes the journey feel all the more real and the stakes even higher.”

With the announcement of Moss: Book II, Polyarc now sits alongside a select group of VR development studios to have announced a sequel release. Further cementing its place among distinguished video game developers, Polyarc has received more than 80 global industry awards and nominations for Moss from notable organizations such as BAFTA, The Game Awards, E3 Game Critics, D.I.C.E., GDC, Golden Joystick, and the Annie Awards.

For more information, visit www.polyarcgames.com and follow Polyarc’s social channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

Layers of Fear VR Review – PlayStation VR

I played Layers of Fear when it debuted back in 2016 on PC.  Honestly, I don’t remember playing it and Steam says I only have .7 hours logged so it didn’t hold my attention for long, but now the game has arrived on VR.  Actually, it already hit Steam VR in 2019, but Bloober Team’s adventure horror has finally made it to PSVR, and this time I managed to stick it out to the end; at least one of the three possible endings.  Layers of Fear VR lies somewhere in that shadowy area of a mediocre adventure game that somehow gets just a bit better when played in VR, only in the case of PSVR the visual quality is so low it actually detracts from any benefits VR might bestow upon it.  I also find it very consumer unfriendly to be selling the VR and non-VR versions separately for $20 each.  There should be at least some sort of discount if we are expected to double-dip.

Layers of Fear VR quickly falls in line with the standard first-person, adventure-thriller that consists of hours of exploration, lots of collectibles, plenty of reading, a few puzzles, and plenty of jump-scares.  You know the kind; paintings flying off the wall, a knife flying across the kitchen and sticking in the door, ceiling fans falling from above, an empty wheelchair squeaking across a room.  You’ll be playing the game as a mad painter who is trying to create a painting of his dead wife.  Your first objective is to find the key to your art studio and once there this will serve as your base for multiple excursions into the house to find skin, blood, bone, a finger, an eyeball; you know…all your basic art supplies.

Inner voices, random writing on the walls, haunted toys, and plenty of creepy dolls all wait to send the occasional shiver down your spine.  The game uses an assorted mix of visual and audio tactics as well as some creative pacing to build up tension then hit you when you least expect it.  One of the game’s best tactics that lends itself greatly to VR is that your surroundings will change with your view, so merely spinning around in VR can cause your reality to change.  This also happens with doors that don’t always lead back to where you came from…almost never in fact.  Don’t even think about mapping the floorplan.  This is more of an on-rails haunted house, and you’re along for the ride with a few pauses for reading documents for backstory and solving puzzles that are more desperation than logic.

The game loop basically has you entering a room and all the doors will lock until you discover the trigger that lets you continue.  This usually involves finding a certain item, lighting some candles, maybe playing a record, tinkering on a piano, etc.  Sometimes doors are actually locked and require a key.  Inventory is limited to these one-off items and requires no management on your part.  There can be quite a bit of walking between rooms, down passages or through other rooms, all of which are filled with interactive objects, drawers, cabinets, chests, almost all of which are empty of anything useful.  I don’t mind searching everything as long as there is the occasional reward for my effort, but after searching dozens of empty storage spaces you start to give up, and that’s when they put the required key in the bottom drawer of a nightstand.

As far as presentation Layers of Fear VR definitely benefits from the added immersion of VR and the ability to look around with just a turn of your head.  There was one instance where writing on the wall said “Don’t look behind you.”  In most games this would mean moving your mouse or analog stick, but having to turn your actual head and see what’s there…well, that is just terrifying.  Sadly, for all the added immersion the PSVR is ill-equipped to deliver an enjoyable experience.  Even on my PS4 Pro the resolution is so much lower than the non-VR version and there is a ton shimmering and jagged edges.  The game is dark by nature which only enhances the screen door effect.  I felt like I was playing the game with a stocking over my face – there is just this constant layer of grain you have to look through to see the actual image.  The audio is fantastic with a great score, quality voice acting and plenty of terrifying sound bites.  I did have to question why I was hearing howling wind when I was three floors down into a sub-basement.

Layers of Fear VR offers several comfort settings.  By default the game uses step-turning and a vignette aperture to help framerate and avoid motion sickness.  These are very distracting and I turned them off immediately, but that is up to you and your stomach.  Perhaps the biggest detriment to the gameplay is the mandatory use of the Move controllers.  I seriously don’t know why they couldn’t have used the DualShock; it worked fine for Resident Evil Biohazard in VR.  Instead you are forced to learn these ridiculous controls for moving, turning, strafing, and backing up; all of which use those tiny buttons that feel very unnatural.  Even after three hours I will still mixing up crouch and reverse and randomly hitting the button tutorial page.  At least you can toggle your movement to sync with your view, so I ended up steering with my head more than these insidious controls.

Layers of Fear VR is fairly short and you can knock out at least one of the three endings in four hours or less.  The other endings require various strategies executed throughout the entire game and will require complete restarts to earn those trophies.  Personally, I really disliked this game, not because it’s a bad game but because I was playing it on perhaps the worst platform available.  The janky graphics and insufferable controls were first and foremost in my mind and only occasional slipped away during an immersive puzzle or super-scary moment.  If this were a $5 upgrade for owners of the original game or at least bundled with the non-VR version I would be more inclined to recommend, but as it stands, Layers of Fear VR is a short experience with disappointing graphics and impossible controls that can wait for a sale or maybe a PS Plus freebie.  Bloober Team does great horror games but this isn’t one of them.

‘Star Wars Pinball VR’ Out Now (Oculus, Steam VR, PSVR)

Zen Studios has announced that Star Wars™ Pinball virtual tables are now playable in VR for the very first time. Star Wars™ Pinball VR launches today on Oculus Quest 2, Oculus Quest, Steam VR, and PlayStation® VR, delivering an exciting mix of new and classic remastered content from across the Star Wars galaxy, exclusive features and more.

Star Wars Pinball VR jumps out of hyperspace featuring eight amazing tables, including two never before released: The Mandalorian and Star Wars Classic Collectibles. The other six tables are remastered fan-favorites: Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, and Masters of the Force.

Beyond the incredible realism added by VR, Star Wars Pinball VR enhances the core Star Wars Pinball experience with new features exclusive to this release:

  • The “Fan Cave”: The new home for both your pinball table and the customizable array of Star Wars digital lightsabers, blasters, helmets and more you’ll earn while playing. Place a virtual action figure on the pinball table and the room comes to life – not only with a new table to play, but with life-sized characters and vehicles joining you on either side.
  • Total Immersion Mode: Stand side-by-side with some of your favorite characters and experience everything at table level.
  • Full 360-Degree Mini-Games: Dive into iconic Star Wars set pieces like the speeder bike chase on Endor, the Bespin carbon-freezing chamber duel and others.

In addition, players will have access to classic Star Wars Pinball features like Career mode, Force powers, competitive gameplay, haptic controller feedback, your own personal cantina jukebox and more.

For more on Star Wars Pinball VR, visit StarWarsPinball.com.

Layers of Fear VR Launches for PlayStation VR

Starting today, Bloober Team’s psychological and psychedelic horror hit, Layers of Fear VR, is available for PlayStation VR. This is another step in the company’s strategy to make its best psychological horror games available to the widest VR audience possible.

Layers of Fear VR is based on the critically-acclaimed 2016 horror hit and designed to immerse players into the depths of madness as they take control of a painter struggling to finish his Magnum Opus. Uncover visions, fears, and horrors that entwine the painter while exploring the depths of an ever-changing Victorian mansion filled with macabre artwork, all brought to life in a truly immersive and frightening virtual reality adventure thanks to PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation VR headset.

Redesigned with virtual reality in mind for greater interactivity and immersion, Layers of Fear VR is a first-person horror game built on a rich, dark story. Explore an environment overflowing with macabre artwork and unravel secrets through twisted puzzles, while the psychological horrors buried deep within the game will leave you questioning your own eyes and mind. Dare you help paint a true masterpiece of fear? Put on your headset and discover what awaits…

“When we first announced Layers of Fear VR, many of our fans contacted us asking for a PSVR version. Today we can tell that their voices have been heard” – says Piotr Babieno, Bloober Team CEO. “It’s also all a part of our wider strategy. For the last couple of years, we’ve been bringing the best of our horror games to additional platforms, including VR headsets, so more players can feel chills on their spines regardless of what hardware they own. This is a mindset we plan to maintain going forward.”

Layers of Fear VR key features:

PSYCHEDELIC VR HORROR

  • Explore the depths of madness within the painter’s mind
  • Terrifying twists and turns will leave you uncertain of what is real
  • Sense of insanity as each turn of the camera may completely change the look of your surroundings

STORY-FOCUSED EXPLORATION

  • Experience a haunting story that reveals details of the painter’s dark and tragic past
  • Uncover new secrets and details through immersive VR
  • Search the Victorian mansion, follow the dark visions and see the story and secrets unfold

VICTORIAN VIRTUAL REALITY

  • Explore a game world inspired by 19th century masterpiece paintings, architecture and décor
  • Numerous pieces of original art and music flesh out the story and environment
  • Explore an ever-changing Victorian-era mansion that evokes beauty, fear and suspense

Developed by Incuvo and published by Bloober Team, Layers of Fear PSVR is available now for $19.99.

Check also Layers of Fear VR for Oculus Rift / Oculus Rift S and HTC Vive.