With the year coming to a close, everyone and their dogs are doing best of’s and top whatever’s of the year I’ve decided to join those sheep and compile my own list of top VR experiences. These are not just a compilation of our top 5 scored games but rather a list of the games and moments that simply just wow’d us or have just called us back over and over again.
It was really hard to widdle this down to 5. Most of my ‘OH MY GAWD!!!’ moments occurred on the Gear VR because that’s how I experienced VR first. I could easily swap out a few of these for a few others but ultimately decided that the joy I had in these games just trumped all others.
5. Thumper – I threw in the demo for this thing and was blown away. I’ve never been a fan of the rhythm genre but the mix of intense audio, insane speed and visuals just hooked me. While playing through this game in one shot probably isn’t a great idea, finish a stage, turn it off and this game will be calling you back in no time. The on-the-rails aspect of this game as well as the precise timing required to get that top score make this game a delight. It is still one of the most intense experiences available on the PS4 and my top rated game of the year.
4. Werewolves Within – Since becoming a reviewer I have been minimizing my exposure to trailers and demos and any other hype before a games release so when this came, I knew nothing about it. I was initially taken aback by the visuals, but don’t let them fool you. What’s here was some of the most fun I’ve had in and out of VR. It’s a social game where each person is assigned a role (with unique abilities) and your task is to figure out each others roles and vote out the werewolf, unless you are the werewolf. Its an absolute blast and a game built entirely upon interacting with people and separating truths from lies. I had so much fun and with games taking only 10 minutes or so it’s great to pop in for a round or 2(or more) anytime.
3. Driveclub VR – I have never been a fan of sim driving games. Not to say I never enjoyed them but I don’t care/know anything about cars and prefer the kart genre over the real thing. In fact, I’ve always despised the behind the wheel view in driving games. Driveclub has changed my mind and I don’t think I could ever go back to playing a driving game if I wasn’t in VR. The ability to look around the interior of my vehicle is awesome and burning past someone or seeing them catch up in your rear-view mirror is thrilling. I would love to try one of those force feedback wheels just to add to the realism. The visuals may not be top of the line here, but I was to focused on the road most of the time to care!
2. Holoball – I love this game. It pushes the limits of the PSVR’s tracking but it works damn fine. It is essentially a futuristic game of squash with you armed with 2 bats (move controllers) in a battle to get the most points and earn your freedom from your robot overlords. The story here is inconsequential, what matters is they nailed the gameplay, visuals and awesome 80’s techno soundtrack. Add to that the local multiplayer option for a friend to pick up a DS4 controller and take control of the enemy paddle and you have a recipe for a lot of fun. This is a great example of a physically demanding VR game and it rocks!
1. Star Wars Battlefront VR X-Wing Mission – First and foremost, I love Star Wars, like a lot so I’m not gonna lie when I say I was sooooooo pumped for this game. It’s a 20 min addition to the main Battlefront game and I love it. Starting this mission and seeing the AT-AT walking in front me blew my mind. Flying with the rebel fleet, going to hyper space and seeing a Star Destroyer appear out of Hyper-space were all nerdgasm moments. The presentation here was flawless and this needs to be played by any fan. Like I said, its not perfect. It’s super linear, pretty easy and controls are somewhat neutered compared to other space flight games…and I don’t care. This (mini)game was the realization of lifelong dreams and I can’t wait to see what Star Wars has in store for VR in the future.
2016 was the year that VR arrived in the national zeitgeist. Many developers and publishers were vying for a piece of the head-tracked pie, and the result was a deluge of experiences, good and bad. While I loved a lot of things I played, here are the standouts:
5. Batman Arkham VR – I am not a fan of Batman. Never really have been. But even this non-believer couldn’t deny the appeal of “being” Batman. This is a really great one to show people what VR is capable of, even if there isn’t any action in the game. While this is absolutely a glorified tech demo, it’s a really neat one, and absolutely worth the $20 entry fee.
4. I Expect You To Die – By design, we really haven’t seen a “full” VR game. One that would take 10+ hours to complete a story. IEYTD is about 8 and a half hours shy of the 10 hour mark, but does everything very well during its short stay. Cast in the role of a Bond-esque secret agent, you are tasked with using gadgetry and wits to think your way out of deadly situations. Clever puzzles mixed with a dash of humor make for a great time. Even the opening credits are awesome.
3. RIGS Mechanized Combat League – According to Guerrilla Cambridge’s RIGS, the sport of the future is deathmatch with football or basketball spins on it. They might be right, considering I’m not a big fan of either. After getting past the annoying tutorial levels, RIGS reveals its brand of frenetic 3v3 mech competition to be exhilarating. It’s the ultimate in “one more match” style addictiveness on PSVR.
2. Robinson: The Journey – I love Crytek. The original Far Cry, and the Crysis series that followed, were excellent. Great shooters with engaging stories, and even better visuals. So, Robinson was absolutely going to be on my shortlist. While I was bummed at the lack of combat, what we did get was interesting and gorgeous enough to wow me on a different level. While it looks good on the standard PS4, the Pro knocks it out of the park. Excited for the future of CryEngine in VR.
1. Thumper – This one wasn’t even on my radar. I tried the demo after reading good things. Purchase came shortly thereafter. This is a great example of a title that, until you actually TRY it, you won’t know how good it is. After the dead simple tutorial, everything just clicks. The graphics are wonderfully odd and fill you with dread, while the sound and controls are so very spot on. Not a “wow” VR title, but wearing the headset immerses you in the game in a way that no flat panel ever could.
2016 go down in history as the year of VR. With four popular commercial VR systems released this year including the Playstation VR which most user friendly, accessible, and no doubt going to be the most popular. Within 10-15 years VR will be ubiquitous in many areas of life, from medicine, to design, and of course games. And with that here are my top five PSVR games of 2016
5. The Assembly – While it may have its flaws, mainly the over reliance on drip feeding the story via reading employee’s monitors, and searching in far to many empty drawers, The Assembly is a sci-fi puzzler worth playing. It should be noted that you don’t have to open every drawer an cupboard! And you don’t have to read every monitor, but this reviewer is one of those completionist game players who explores nearly every nook and cranny of a game.
With an intriguing dystopian story, and mostly original complex and in some cases very moral puzzles, along with a great aesthetic design to the environments, The Assembly is a short but sweet story driven puzzler!
4. Driveclub VR – The sense of immersion in Driveclub VR is incredible. Every detail of the inside and outside of your car is there. The cars can be inspected, doors opened, etc. before each race. And the racing. Yes, you will hear people complain about the graphics but I am not racing to enjoy how pretty the trees and grass looks, I am playing to win and rarely do my eyes divert from the road to admire the scenery. Take the original Driveclub, and imagine you are now actually in the game. I can only imagine with a decent steering wheel set up the game would be taken to another level. But even using the DS4, the game plays beautifully.
3. Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood – I have always loved light gun games, and what I considered the epitome of the genre, ‘House Of The Dead: Overkill’, now has a close contender for best light gun game ever. Rush of Blood oozes atmosphere from the second the game boots up. It is intense, scary, bags of fun and best played in short doses.
Certainly not for the faint hearted. The rollercoaster effect works so well that you feel the sensations you would normally feel when on a rollercoaster. It is normally the first game I boot up and have a quick 20 minute blast every time I play PSVR. Any more play time I find too intense, as you have enemies coming at you from all sides. With plenty of replay value Rush Of Blood is my top three PS VR game of the year.
2. Job Simulator – This game is far more fun than it sounds like it might be. In fact, it is hilarious, the funniest game I have played in a long time. If you see something, you can open it, touch it, pick it up, move it and (in what proves to be endlessly amusing) throw any of these objects at the androids around you. Pretty much everything you can think of you can do. Especially funny is the voice acting, the way the robots express themselves often in a staccato fashion. Visually Job Simulator is stunning too, one of the best looking PS VR games yet, with pinpoint super sharp graphics. I can see this game as one of the few launch games that I will come back too years from now. If only to see what ridiculous sandwiches I can make, or if I can break the game by trying something the developers never thought of.
1. Rez – To say that Rez is a masterpiece, is like saying that a Ferrari XX is an average Supercar. There was nothing quite like Rez when it was released in 2001, and there still isn’t in 2016. Rez is a hybrid game, an on-the-rails, rhythm shooter. The graphics back then were stunning, and now in VR equally so. Likewise, so is the sound design, gameplay and every aspect of Rez. It is a fusion of light, sounds, feelings, that you are in part creating by playing. While playing you feel a sense of perfection and oneness of synthesia. When I played the PSVR version in October, the entire hour or so it took me to finish the main five levels and the new Area X, I felt tingles down my spine every few minutes. I’ve never had tingles from a videogame!
This is why Rez is my VR game of the year, and also the reason why it won VR game of the year at the game awards.
There you have it guys and gals, Our top 5 PSVR Games. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment below and let us know your list. We would love to hear from all of you!