Microsoft made waves back at E3 with the purpose-built version of Minecraft running on the company's HoloLens augmented reality headset. The demo provided a glimpse of what might be possible with the tech, which is set to provide tabletop AR gaming on Windows 10 and the Xbox One. But what other games would work well with the headset?
The top-down nature of games like Diablo III could make them a good fit for augmented reality, and developer Blizzard's franchise is the undisputed king of the genre. Being able to look down on your tiny warrior as it tears through the battlefield on the table in front of you could transform the franchise into one of the best arguments for AR gaming.
Blizzard has a storied history of keeping its games relevant for a long time (just look at World of Warcraft), and it's fairly likely Diablo III will get a second big expansion within the next year. If the game is still in active development, then we think HoloLens support should be a no-brainer.
These types of games tend to make use of a fixed camera position, so the control system could get a little confusing if you're moving around the table as you play (at least without significant modifications for the new hardware). If you stayed in a specific spot, though, there's no reason it couldn't work.
The Total War series' real time battles take place on large, clearly-defined patches of terrain that would be perfect for HoloLens. It wouldn't be practical to zoom in close to ranks of troops (though leaning in could get you a little closer), but it would be handy to have an AR tactical map, allowing you to direct units around while watching up close on a conventional screen.
In fact, HoloLens would seem to be a great fit for the entire strategy genre, and we could see it working well with everything from Sid Meier's Civilizations to the upcoming Halo Wars 2.
Kerbal Space Program
One of the most entertaining titles we've played on PC in a long time, Kerbal Space Program (KSP) tasks players with creating their own rockets and space planes, then attempting to launch them into orbit and beyond.
The hangar-based construction stage of the game could be ideal for the AR headset, allowing players to see their (likely doomed) creation right in front of their eyes.
More similar to Minecraft than most titles on this list, city builder games like the excellent Cities: Skylines seem like the perfect fit for HoloLens. It's easy to imagine how much fun it would be to see your city taking shape on the tabletop, manage the insanity that (inevitably) follows and walk around the metropolis scheming your next project.
Any city builder could potentially be a great fit for HoloLens, whether SimCity, Tropico (not necessarily a city-builder, but close enough) or lower key titles like Banished. Their inherently strategic, top-down experiences would be enhanced over their PC counterparts by giving the player a mixed-reality visualization of their creations.
You'd just better hope you're a reasonably good city planner, or things could get a little too real when the fires break out, the cemeteries fill up and your metropolis becomes a lawless, derelict wasteland … yeah, we're not very good at city builders.
Call us crazy, but we don't think that every augmented reality game would have to be modern and super high-tech. Why not give one of the gaming world's true classics the augmented reality treatment? Seeing those blocks falling faster and faster right before your eyes, while perhaps nudging and twisting them with your fingers, would certainly add a whole new layer of tension.