Today’s a big day for Sony. It’s the launch of PlayStation VR and eager early adopters are all sampling some of their first virtual reality experiences. If you’ve been paying attention to our steady stream of reviews, you’ll know that we’ve had our hands on a PSVR for the last fortnight, sharing it out between myself, Tuffcub and Aran.
For those who’ve picked up a headset, comment below and add your own impressions, but here are some of our highlights from the launch line up.
Whilst some games on PSVR have been slightly disappointing – yes, I mean you Driveclub – there have been a couple of surprises. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood turned out to be an inventive and genuinely thrilling remix of the ageing shooting gallery genre, and I gasped out loud in amazement when my craft launched in to the depths of space in EVE: Valkyrie.
However my first pick, and I know plenty of people will disagree with me on this one, is Super Stardust VR. The new VR mission is very basic and places you in a hovertank, whizzing around a single arena shooting at five enemy types. It’s over in about twenty minutes, it doesn’t look that stunning, and there is very little variation. However, it was the only game that felt totally natural to play for me, the only game where I felt I was in a vehicle on an alien planet and whizzing around like a bad-ass. Battlezone may look better and is almost certainly a better game, but it always felt like it was game. I want my VR to make me forget that I look like a long lost third member of Daft Punk waving what appear to be a pair of glowing sex toys about. I want to be totally immersed and somehow Stardust managed to do that.
My second choice has to be Tumble, and it’s for the same reason. The VR isn’t there to impress or show off, it’s slowly drawing you in to the world, making you forget that you are wired up to a games console. The puzzles are good, the presentation is perfect and there are lots of secrets to find. I suggest you look behind you when playing, because you never know what you will find!
Having spent a couple of days with the PSVR I tried out quite a few of the games that were available, and the two I’ve chosen as my favourite couldn’t be more different if you tried. The first is undeniably Batman: Arkham VR. It is more of a detective title than an acrobatic action adventure, as in Rocksteady’s other games, with puzzles to solve instead of throwing punches, but it is easily the best showcase of VR so far. Looking down and seeing the utility belt with a batarang on the front, grapple gun on one side, and forensic scanner on the other just gives feels so great.
Standing face to face with the likes of Robin and Alfred is great too, and, without wanting to spoil too much, I greatly enjoyed the game’s fresh take on that fateful night of Bruce’s parents getting murdered. For me, Arkham VR is currently the best, most immersive experience on PSVR.
On the other side is the rather silly but entertaining Headmaster. It’s all about heading footballs towards goals and targets but the set up is comedic and the challenges are all varied. The game is more fun than it has any right to be, because it’s just such a simple concept executed in a very good way. It makes VR accessible to anyone. All you need to use is your head.
I’ve said it several times now, but Battlezone is still my favourite game on PSVR. It’s just such a smart and simple idea executed really quite well, putting you into the cockpit of a hovertank and letting you loose on a neon infused world. Each mission takes a few minutes, but they’re strung together into a campaign that lasts a couple of hours each time.
It’s definitely at its best when played in four player co-op, but even on your own, there’s a good few reasons to keep plugging away and embarking of fresh campaigns. The roguelike structure means you’re always looking to unlock new and improved weapons, new tanks and new abilities, so you can take on the final boss at even higher difficulties.
I also have to state my admiration for RIGS, which takes on the difficult task of replicating a fast paced first person shooter for VR. There’s only so many maps and modes, but that core gameplay is done really very well. It also helps that it’s perhaps the best looking game on the system!
So that’s us, but what about you? If you’ve picked up PSVR at launch, let us know your thoughts on the system and your first forays into virtual reality gaming.