Valve has announced the addition of a brand-new, Oculus Rift-powered VR Mode to Team Fortress 2. The new mode will be free update to the title and anyone with an Oculus Rift Developer Kit will be able to play all game modes and classes.
"When we first played an early version of Virtual Reality mode in Team Fortress we were blown away by the immersion we experienced," said valve programmer Joe Ludwig. "VR is just getting started, but it is going to have a big impact on gaming. This update will let us share that experience with more of the Team Fortress community."
The inclusion of VR Mode means Team Fortress 2 will be the first game released with full Oculus Rift support. The partnership between Valve and Oculus is not a direct financial one; Oculus gave Valve dev kits to use, while Valve worked on getting Team Fortress 2 to work with the Oculus Rift. TF2's huge audience gives Valve and Oculus a chance to see how players handle VR.
"Team Fortress was sort of the obvious choice for this," Ludwig told Engadget in an interview. "The Team Fortress community is large and healthy. There are millions of people playing TF every week, but they're also used to us shipping a lot of updates. The real reason for [choosing] TF is the community around TF, and the way that we use it as a place where we run experiments."
Valve has also tried out the Oculus Rift on other titles, but nothing concrete has come from those tests.
"There's certainly interest internally in moving other Valve titles. We don't know yet what the community thinks of all this," Ludwig said. "We've played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we've played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven't taken any of those other games to the point where they're anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we've just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit."
Ultimately, Team Fortress 2 fans' reaction to VR Mode will determine what Valve does with the technology in the future.
"We don't know how strongly people will react to VR," Ludwig closed. "We don't know how popular it will be, what people want to see. It might be that we need to learn a lot more from TF before we move on to other titles. We just don't know what's going to happen."