2016 has seen a major advancement gain massive strides through premium VR headsets. Players have three options options to choose from if they want more high end experiences over the mobile VR counterparts through the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and PlayStation VR. However VR wasn’t the only shift that occurred, as the PS4 Pro blurred the lines between console generations.
In March 2014 Sony made its declaration that it was entering the virtual reality space with what was known as Project Morpheus, and they already had a prototype to show the public at the time. What followed was over two years of announcements from Sony regarding the technical specs of the headset and a number of game announcements. Then there was the announcement that the headset would simply be called PlayStation VR.
PlayStation VR launched on October 13th for £349.99 and has become incredibly hard to source since launch. All the big retailers have sold through their stock and aren’t expecting more until early 2017, while reports suggest it has sold more than Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It has managed to bring premium VR to the masses in a much more affordable package than its competitors, and a number of experiences that are breath taking like Batman Arkham VR, PlayStation VR Worlds, RIGS, and Until Dawn: Rush Of Blood.
Valve’s and HTC’s partnership managed to spawn one of the most innovative VR headsets that is currently available on the market: the HTC Vive. While the entry cost is higher than that of the PSVR, the Vive offers a much broader and more impressive experience.
When it launched the Vive offered the complete package for VR enthusiasts. Base stations allow players to create large play areas so they can walk around freely in various software due to 360 degree room tracking, and the wireless controllers give proper 1 to 1 feedback. Back in October HTC confirmed that it had sold approximately 140,000 headsets since launch in April, but despite the size of its audience, they’ve helped to define where VR is heading much better than PSVR and Oculus Rift have.
Our 2016 award for Best Hardware goes to:
Runners up in alphabetical order:
- Oculus Rift
- PS4 Pro
- Xbox One S
While new hardware is all well and good, it’s the software lineup that sustains it, and VR is no exception to that. With the launch of VR we’ve seen a number of different experiences released by a number of studios, all of whom are in the process of what will stick in this new format and what will be left behind. The GOTY VR chat at TSA Towers did get quite heated with a number of games suggested, but only one could reign supreme.
Ubisoft’s Werewolves Within is my personal favourite when it comes to VR gaming, showing just how the medium can be used as a new social space. If you’ve played real world party games like Mafia and Werewolf then you’ll understand the gist of Werewolves Within. Basically you’re put in a situation with up to seven other people where one or more of them may be the werewolf. Everyone is assigned a role at the beginning of the round and have a limited time to work out who the werewolves are.
Accusations will go flying as the werewolves accuse the innocent parties while others will defend themselves. Within a round or two you feel comfortable enough to play without worry with a group of strangers, all of whom have so far been welcoming. With Werewolves Within, Ubisoft haven’t just created a fun game, but a template from which other developers could learn from to make simple mutliplayer games for VR which can foster great communities.
Job Simulator is a bit of strange beast. It’s set in a world where automatons do all the basic jobs so humans have a ton of free time. One of the entertainment activities the humans of this world can take part in are job simulators, where they experience jobs that have become obsolete. Unlike the menial real world counterparts these jobs are bizarre AI interpretations of modern day professions and allow you to get away with a ton of things that would get you fired otherwise.
Job Simulator offers four jobs to try out from office worker or store clerk to gourmet chef and mechanic. You’re not expected to complete tasks in a proper manner so can feel free to throw things about like a hotdog or a mug. While the experiences could be considered quite short, they’re a lot of fun, and there’s just a huge amount of interactivity on offer in each space.
Here They Lie
Here They Lie has been quite a divisive VR title getting quite a lot of mixed reviews. Tuffcub reviewed the game scoring it a 9/10, and championing it during our end of year discussions. One of the big reasons for its inclusion here is that Here They Lie is a game that couldn’t really exist without VR. While other games on the list have similar experiences available outside of VR, Here They Lie needs it to deliver its full effect.
Tuffcub likened Here They Lie to the works of David Cronenburg, acknowledging though that its weird scenes may put people off. At the same time, considering it is an experience unlike any other in VR it makes Here They Lie a strong contender.
In fact TSA’s VR Game Of The Year 2016 is Here They Lie:
Runners up in alphabetical order:
- Batman: Arkham VR
- Job Simulator
- RIGS: Mechanized Combat
- Werewolves Within