The most effective VR games, as EVE: Valkyrie Executive Producer Owen O'Brien explained in 2014, tend to jam players into a cockpit of some sort in order to work. Ubisoft's Werewolves Within does something similar, and yet quite a bit different, by planting its players firmly upon small wooden benches, from where they can make speeches, tell lies, and cast judgment upon one another. It's a multiplayer party game—a “social deduction game,” to use Ubi's parlance—in which five to eight players gather each night in the virtual village to Gallowston to determine who among them is the titular werewolf who's been terrorizing the local populace.
Werewolf (aka Mafia) is already a popular party game, with a few variations out there. Games are played through quickly in this case, and as usual roles are assigned randomly at the beginning, some of them providing special abilities that will help uncover the shape-shifting menace. But because it's not played in person, Werewolves Within's real promise lies in its use of “voice detection, Red Storm's positional tracking technology, and animations based on voice inflection analysis” to translate real-life movements and body language into the VR space. Players can even lean toward one another and conspire in whispers, just as they would if they were sitting around a real table.
In a way, it sounds not too terribly different from conventional videogames, except that instead of learning, for example, complex combos in a fighting game, you'll be learning to control the "physical presence elements," as Lead Designer Justin Achilli refers to them in the video, like your vocal inflections and physical movements, to reflect the lies you want to tell and the secrets you want to keep.
It remains to be seen whether those small tics, be they sincere or deceptive, will translate into the digital space as near-perfectly as Ubisoft says, and putting together a table of five VR-equipped friends may prove challenging too. (Fortunately, Werewolves Within's matchmaking functionality will support quick matches with strangers.)
There's no hard release date yet but Ubisoft says it's coming to “major VR platforms” this fall. Find out more at werewolveswithin.com.