So here we have it, another year down and everyone is posting their top games of the year. For the last 2 years I published my top 5 games and while there were definitely more then 5 great games to choose from in those years, minus 1 or 2 entries, it was relatively easy to separate the elite from the pack. With 2018 I was going to do a top 5, but it just didn’t seem right to exclude games that on any given day could take the #1 spot, so I decided a top 10 should cover it and nope, not even close so I’ve decided to do a top 30 games covering a wide variety of genres so enough with the chit chat, let’s crush this list
30. Affected the Manor – A short and sweet experience delivering some decent scares on a couple of 15-minute runs as you walk through a haunted mansion. It’s a great intro for anyone new to VR offering simple controls as you walk through the house armed only with a flashlight and a recommended experience for those demoing VR!
29. Torn – For those looking for a more a narrative tale, Torn offers just that with some top notch story telling and very immersive world. A goal of the game is to reassemble a mansion designed as one giant circuit and while the puzzles offered are very simple, the story told about a mad scientist and his motivations is one well worth exploring.
28. Pixel Ripped 1989 – Not to say 2D side scrollers wouldn’t work in VR, but that just seems like a poor use of such immersive technology. Well, what if you were playing that 2D shooter on a portable game device, while interacting with the real world around you. Now what would happen if the real world and your 2D game merged into one wild shooter. Pixel Ripped delivered what is arguably one of the most unique platformers ever made making it a definite must own game for any VR headset.
27. Transference – This is probably one of the most oddball inclusions of my list as the game is relatively short, offers limited replayability and the puzzles, while offering some challenge, are relatively sparse when the game is looked at as a whole. What Transference nails is the presentation offering some of the best visuals on the headset and a very engrossing story about a father trying to protect his family by any means possible.
26. Detached – The only reason why this isn’t higher is the relatively simplistic campaign. That said, if you ever wanted experience Zero Gravity, Detached is easily the best experience available. Stranded in an asteroid field it’s up to you to restart the a few different power stations with a major emphasis on just floating through space. If you can handle it, set the controls to simulation and enjoy what it feels like to propel yourself through space.
25. Creed: Rise to Glory – Boxing and VR are a match made in heaven and this movie tie-in did an excellent job and not only delivered a fun and realistic campaign taking place in the Rocky universe but gave us our 1st multiplayer fighting simulation. Fighting my friends online in some one-on-one action was some of the most fun I have had in my time in VR this year, especially picking apart my opponents with some quick combos and hard shots!
24. Trickster VR – What do you get when you take the Raw Data wave formula and replace it with a fantasy setting in dynamic environments? One of the best brawlers in VR! Want to make it better? A post-launch patch offered us 3 player co-op action giving me some of the most fun I’ve had as I battled hordes of orcs alongside my friends.
23. Space Pirate Trainer – Once of PC VR’s greatest wave shooter graced out headsets and delivered some intense action as you faced enemy drones while dual wielding pistols with on demand ammo types and surrounding turrets that aided in your attempts. The shear variety offered in how you dispatch your foes keeps the action feel fresh way longer then I thought it would and that feeling of being a badass is exacerbated wonderfully here.
22. Track Lab/Electronauts – I’m lumping these 2 together because they weren’t really my bag but brought some wonderful music creation tools to VR. Track Lab offered true creation by letting you customize every beat, note and effect, though people looking to create some sick beats will have to invest a lot time mastering all the tools available. Electronauts on the other hand let you remix a whole bunch of tracks with a series of modifiers and effects turning you into a virtual DJ.
21. 2MD VR Football – It’s not a true American Football sim thank largely to the visuals and focus on offense only play, but 2MD showed us that a Football game worked great in VR. Customize your team, pick your plays and take to the field as the Quarterback as you find the right receiver or run the ball yourself against more and more challenging opponents plus a late addition offered us some couch-co-op which only sweetens the pot!
20. Knock Out League! – This is Punch out in VR and the folks over at Grab Games took that formula and executed it flawlessly while still making it feel like their own title thanks to the outlandish fighters you’ll face. It’s less boxing sim and highlights pattern recognition and careful timing to navigate through the ever more challenging fighters. It gets crazy physical and is going to make you sweat and I really haven’t had this much fun being this physical in my entire life.
19. Downward Spiral: Horus Station – Exploring a Space Station in Zero Gravity, armed with a grappling gun and a few weapons as you try and reactivate the station while fending off deadly drones was great fun. The grapple mechanic made for a unique way to navigate the station and offered a fresh and unique look at First-Person Explorative Shooters.
18. Tetris Effect – It’s Tetris…in VR and I stand by this as being the best version of the game I have ever played. The near seamless integration of audio effects as you moved the Tetrominos’ with the ambient music playing in the background made for a game I lost a lot more time in then I expected. A plethora of modes besides a campaign offers some variations on the classic formula and I loved chasing my own scores and my friends scores as well!
17. SculptrVR/Cool Paintr VR – I’m going to combine these 2 together as well as both are great VR tools for artistic expression. SculptrVR lets you chisel and sculpt whatever you desired with some later updates letting you explore your creations by setting the scale and flying through them as if they were real terrain. Cool Paintr VR was focused much on brush strokes with a variety of effects and tool allowing for you to bring 3D paintings to life. If you are into creating are in 3D, both of these apps are great and offer unique expressive tools!
16. Rush VR – Strap on a wingsuit and fly down the mountainside in a race to the bottom. A bunch of control options can let you play any way you want with the campaign offering tons of missions and reminded me a fair bit of the SSX franchise, only in the air. Add in the multiplayer which supports up to 11 other racers and sandbox mode before and after a race and this is a recipe for pure fun!
15. To The Top – It’s an arcade parquor racer with the goal being to climb and leap to the top of some intricate and massive levels. More difficult stages push your skills to the limit and once again, the ability to play online with friends ensures endless hours of fun, especially with huge amount of and variety in levels!
14. Sprint Vector – Considering that VR really only tracks your head and hand positions, you wouldn’t think running in VR would make sense but it soooooo does and makes for an intense and exhilarating racer. The faster you pump your arms, the faster you run and throwing in some jumping and flying elements as well as light combat makes for one hell of a racer that will exhaust you in all the right ways!
13. Transpose – A Puzzlers puzzler that could only work in VR. The goal to chain together echoes of yourself to solve puzzles involving platforming, gravity and time. Trying to unravel the conundrums and linking together your past plays with future ones is mind-bending and every time I solved a puzzle elicited a sense of satisfaction I haven’t felt since the epically awesome Statik! If you have any interest in puzzle solving, pick this up!
12. In Death – Talk about a game that came out of nowhere. Wandering through purgatory taking out lost soul after lost soul with a crossbow or bow and arrow in rogue-like action where every death potentially made you more powerful but increased the difficulty of the enemies you faced made for a thrilling experience. Throw in the very pretty visuals and solid combat and this game felt like the VR equivalent of Dark Souls and continues to call me back for one more go, again and again.
11. Blasters of the Universe – This is a top-level wave shooter with only 4 stages with multiple difficulty levels and weekly challenges. The fun factor lies in the vast array of weapon customizations and bullet-hell gameplay that forces you to duck and dodge incoming blasts as you dispatch your foes. It’s a solidly balanced game with an over-the-top comedic 80’s style of action that lend itself well to VR.
10. Borderlands 2 VR – porting this 6-year-old title to VR was a dream come true as I had never ventured into the Borderlands universe before. Some of the choices made held the game back from true greatness, but the transition to VR was a beautiful with it’s 30-hour(ish) campaign, tons of side quests and the over the top comedy having me loving my time on Pandora!
9. Bow to Blood – Where to begin. Bow to Blood has so many layers that seamlessly work together that make for one of the best games to come out this year. You are the captain of a space pirate ship in a galactic game show involving races, combat, exploration and social mechanics and you make allies and enemies that can vote you out or save you should fall in the ranks. Included are some power management and crew management mechanics as well as some first-person combat and you get a game with so much depth that it’s one of the true gems released this year!
8. Red Matter – This game came out of nowhere and surprised the hell out of me in the visual department alone. Red Matter gave us one of the best-looking games for the headset and delivered a campaign mixed some light-hearted cold-waresque drama and a very serious and surreal story. The puzzles aren’t quite as amazing or as complex as we saw in Transpose, but the way they are integrated with the environment makes them feel very natural giving this title a very fluid experience as you navigate an abandoned station on a distant moon. It’s a short campaign with limited replayability, but I enjoyed every minute in this gorgeous game.
7. Wipeout Omega Collection – Oh My Damn! is this everything right with VR. The team who ported this to our headset did an absolutely amazing job at not only keeping the stellar visuals intact but made the gameplay even better by putting you in the cockpit. You get 3 games in 1 and while each has their own individual look and feel, they all bring AAA future sport racing action the forefront of the best games of the year and is a must own for any racing fans out there!
6. Catch and Release – When I put this list together, I knew Catch and Release would be high on it, but I didn’t expect it to be as high at it ended up, but it is a near flawless VR experience. It’s simple, you are in a small boat and you can row around a small lake catching an assortment of fish. There are gaming elements in here tasking you with catching certain types of fish to unlock more bait types to catch bigger fish, but if you want just to ignore that and catch whatever you can, you can do just that. Heck turn on the radio, loaded with music or just take in the sights as the tranquil lake is loaded with surrounding wildlife. This is my go-to game to just unwind and is a great escape from…well…. everything!
5. Firewall Zero Hour – It should be noted that this game is built for the Aim controller which adds so much to the total package. Working in 4-man squads to take down or defend against 4 others gets intense. The Rainbow Six inspired action makes working as team top priority as you place mines, scout for the enemy and try to find those dastardly signal jammers. This is the kind of game where once you start it up, you’ll be saying just one more round for hours. The action has been refined to near perfection and while I do have a few issues with the grindiness and lack of modes besides the 4 vs 4 action, I still can’t deny how exhilarating this game can be!
4. Beat Saber – You want to to addicting games, then Beat Saber is at the top of the list. Beat Saber breathed new life into the rhythm genre and make for a game that calls me back again and again. You just swipe at incoming beats and thanks to a decent starting variety of songs, difficulties and gameplay modifiers, the small amount of songs currently available are used to the max. With the promise of at least 40 more songs coming in paid DLC tracks there should be plenty to keep out interests into 2019 and is a great show piece to demo to anyone in VR.
3. Moss – I love Moss. From the story, the excellent narration, the mechanics and world created for the game. We were introduced to Quill, a lovable little mouse with a badass side and she ventures on a quest to save her lost uncle. It a fantasy world that has a great sense of scale as you navigate through mouse-sized ruins or traveling across the remains of ancient human battle. Add in some light combat and environmental puzzles and you get a game that takes you on journey and I can’t wait to see wait to see the next chapter in Quill’s quest.
2. The Persistence – Man oh man, is this game intense. When I first ventured in to this infected ship, I don’t think I have ever been more nerve-racked. The Persistence offers up some rogue-like action that lets you get more powerful every time you die but cause you to restart whatever level you were on with a whole new layout. The weapons get absolutely nuts as do the enemies and every time you encounter a new one, you need to figure out how to defeat it or bypass it which usually ends up in with a death or two as you work out a strategy. Add in some free DLC that added a couple bonus modes that change the overall feel of the gameplay and extend the overall value greatly, making this one of the best shooter to grace our headset in 2019
1. ASTROBOT Rescue Mission – Yup, you guessed it and any of my top 3 games on any given day could easily be the #1 game but when I think of just how damn perfect and accessible ASTROBOT is, I couldn’t not put in the top spot. Not only is the gameplay on par with some of the best Mario titles, but the use of VR puts this above it’s flat counterparts. You control Astro but are physically in the world as well letting you smash barriers and get hit by enemies trying to blind your efforts. The level themes constantly change up and rarely repeat themselves and the final boss was a hilariously meta and challenging. Searching for hidden robots throughout each game and utilizing some tools built into your in-game controller gave this platformer some depth we have never seen before and for all those reason, ASTROBOT Rescue Mission is my #1 pick for the best game of 2019.
So, that’s it. 2018 was so great I felt if I didn’t mention any of these games, I would be doing a disservice to all the awesome we got in 2018. There are still even more games that didn’t make this list that are still worth playing and if you think I got something wrong, I probably did! It was near impossible assigning numbers to all these great games and any one them could easily be 10 spots higher then where it landed. I moved things around so much I just had to stop and just put it out, even now I still want to shift and adjust my rankings which is testament to the banner year that 2018.