By partying up with game publisher Wizards of the Coast, the VR social platform AltspaceVR wants you to play Dungeons and Dragons in virtual reality. You’ll need an Oculus Rift, but the account that lets you play D&D is free. The games take place in a stock fantasy tavern, with roleplaying twists like a halo of dice that float above the table.
The graphics are workhorse — World of Warcraft in virtual reality this isn’t, let alone Witcher 3 — but the app, like non-virtual D&D, wants to hook you with the presence of friends rather than a mind-blowing visual experience. To hear AltspaceVR tell it, the result is addictive: The average AltspaceVR user spends about a half hour in a social VR session, but playing D&D, testers found themselves strapped into the Oculus for upwards of six hours. Previously, as AltspaceVR’s CEO Eric Romo tells VentureBeat, the only people wearing an Oculus that long regularly were developers.
The end result is a chimera of real-world tabletop roleplaying — a grid and characters straight out of 5th edition rules, a room-like environment so the dungeon master can pull a character aside to whisper secrets — grafted to the technological wizardry afforded by virtual reality. Players can pull up floating browser windows to look up rules corner cases; the DM, not limited by physical pieces, can build whatever sort of grid he or she would like with the impunity of a minor Minecraft deity.
To pull off a complete simulacra of your game group’s experience, everyone will need a Rift, which is far from a household item at this point. But apps like this are promising omen: VR needs a compelling reason for people to meet, and what’s better than slaying orcs with friends?