We’re smack bang in the middle of the busiest time of year for video games, the biggest companies in the biz dropping a barrage of AAA goodness, all vying for our attention and no doubt a top spot on the charts come Christmas.
With Sony having another banging year of exclusives on the PlayStation 4, it’s easy to overlook is just how well PlayStation VR has been doing these past twelve months. In August it was reported that Sony’s headset had shifted 3 million units, selling a third of those since the start of the year. Though it rarely gets to take centre stage away from traditional console games, 2018 has shown us anything it’s that VR is now a mainstay and a core pillar in Sony’s strategy as we look to the future.
A large part of that success has been a growing number of fantastic games, PSVR now offering a sizeable library of diverse VR experiences from racing sims and online shooters, to interactive demos, music videos, and even sculpting tools. PlayStation VR is redefining the way we think about console gaming, breathing new life into greying genres. Here are just a small selection of games released over the past 12 months you should look into if you’re planning on dusting off your headset or picking one up in time for the holidays, especially with the current Black Friday sales and offers.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
Developer: Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Price: £34.99 – £19.99 during Black Friday
If you would have told us those tiny robots from the PS4’s Playroom app would go on to star in one of the best games of 2018, we’d have called you a damn liar. However, after spending several hours with Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, these little mechanical critters have grown on us. With Sony’s current focus on mature, story-rich adventures that boast cutting edge graphics, Astro Bot is delightfully out of sync with the rest of its exclusive lineup.
Why you should play it: A simple joy to play, or even watch. Astro Bot is packed with creative level designs that are both accessible yet cram in hidden extras for those who want to wring more from this superb platformer. It has a Nintendo-like aura and polish, easily rocketing its way into our top PSVR picks.
Firewall: Zero Hour
Developer: First Contact Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Shooters for PlayStation VR have been fairly hit and miss since launch. The only ones you’ll hear about are success stories such as Arizona Sunshine and Raw Data though there a sizeable number of mediocre, subpar alternatives out there. Despite the hype surrounding Zero Hour, it was hard to get excited about the game until it was in our hands, being beamed directly into our eyeballs.
FPS fans and PSVR early adopters will remember online shooters such as Rigs and Starblood Arena, both of which were great games, though quickly fell away. You can have an awesome online VR shooter but if there’s only a small community keeping it afloat, that can be a real issue. Some months after release and Firewall: Zero Hour is still going strong. Jumping into matches is quick and players tend to be fully engaged.
Why you should play it: Fast-paced, high tension skirmishes as two teams of form operatives go head-to-head. Firewall plays like a dream, using simple yet intuitive controls that gives you everything you need to execute attack plans and get caught in exhilarating firefights. The way it encourages communication, and the fact that every headset has a built-in microphone, breaks down some of the awkward barriers you often get playing online shooters.
Even if you haven’t been following the PSVR’s lineup of games carefully, chances are you’ve still seen Quill. She became somewhat of a temporary mascot for Sony’s headset, Moss grabbing the attention of critics and gamers with its gorgeous fairytale visuals.
Why you should play it: The way Moss casts you as spirit-like entity, guiding Quill throughout her journey, is a clever twists that ties directly into how the game plays. You have an almost top down view of the action, wrapping your head around each fantastical diorama, pulling levers, battling creatures, and spotting the odd hidden collectible here and there. It actually shares a lot in common Astro Bot now we come to think about it.
Creed: Rise To Glory
When it comes to bridging the gap between sports and pop culture, few media properties can top the lasting legacy of Rocky. Similarly, when it comes to making great games for virtual reality, Survios is among the very best. Raw Data and Sprint Vector are both celebrated hits for the PSVR and while Creed may seem like a weird match for the developer, it’s still imbued with that same passion and attention to detail.
Slightly let down by basic gameplay and an annoying stamina mechanic, meaning you’re on-screen character will tire long before you do. A game boxing fans should investigate though punching above its weight compared to other entries on our list.
Why you should play it: Energetic fights that will have you throwing jabs, hooks, and uppercuts while also trying to keep your guard up. These are punctuated by a series of fast, fun mini games to help you train in between matches.
Developer: Bethesda Game Softworks
Publisher: Bethesda Game Studios
Price: £47.99 – £19.99 during Black Friday
Having launched last November, Skyrim VR narrowly makes the cut. The fifth entry of The Elder Scrolls has been doing the rounds these past several years but there’s something special about its virtual reality adaptation.
This is the full-fat Skyrim experience. Despite the herculean task of bringing the game to VR, Bethesda hasn’t cut out content or tried to dumb down the core game. From performing advanced alchemy to exploring every crypt, cave, and castle, this vast roleplaying experience has been fully translated.
Why you should play it: Virtual reality enhances combat and exploration greatly. Using motion controls you’ll swing swords, sling spells, and loose arrows with an alarming degree of immersion. Being able to see the game through the eyes of your protagonist makes the simple act of walking between waypoints far more interesting, allowing you to soak in this lavishly crafted world.
Wave based shooter, Raw Data, really put Survios on the map as one PSVR’s premier development studios. What’s so interesting about this team is their willingness to try something entirely different as they go from one project to the next. Sprint Vector is just one of three games Survios launched this year (as well as Creed and Electronauts) and it’s pretty bonkers. A futuristic parkour racing league in which contestants from all over the galaxy run, leap, climb, and fly through a series of vibrant, twisting stages.
Why you should play: Sprint Vector’s immersive gameplay nails that feeling of momentum. With one motion controller in each hand, you’ll be pumping those army, bending, turning, and throwing your fists in the air as you try and navigate each course. It’s a game that pushes you physically and strategically, rewarding you with a total sense of immersion.
To The Top
Developer: Electric Hat
Publisher: Panic Button
Why you should play: To The Top gets straight to the point – a game where all you do is navigate obstacle courses, looking to achieve the quickest time possible. Scaling walls and bounding between platforms feels natural and intuitive as you use your arms to fling yourself into the air, sometimes climbing massive structures. Hitting those high scores demands dexterity and quick thinking though the payoff is rewarding.
Developer: Fast Travel Games
Publisher: Fast Travel Games
Why you should play: A first person blend of genres that combines exploration, puzzle solving and bow combat, set in a world that feels very Portal-esque. What works best is how the game alternates between these segments while telling the story of how this world came to be overrun by mechanical creatures. Apex Construct isn’t quite in that Astrobot/Firewall tier though is still easily one of the best PSVR titles we’ve discovered in our search to bring you this list.
Developer: Robot Invader
Publisher: Robot Invader
Why you should play it: Dead Secret really isn’t much of a looker and nothing about its simplistic gameplay will change the way you think about VR. However, there’s something special about this superb little murder mystery. The way its story unfolds over the course of roughly three hours reels you in, guiding you through a series of simple puzzles, as a sense of dread gradually manifests.
Drunkn Bar Fight
Developer: The Munky
Publisher: The Munky
Why you should play it: For the same price, you could easily pick out a shedload of games with far more passion and prestige behind them. Get lost in an emotive episodic story like The Walking Dead or Life Is Strange. Stumble upon remastered classic. Lose hours to an online timesink. Or, you know, you can walk around a virtual bar instead, pouring pints over punters and flailing your arms around in one of the funnest VR frenzies we’ve experienced in 2018. Drunkn Bar Fight is a guilty pleasure and we honestly hope there’s a full-fledged sequel on its way soon.
Why you should play it: An incredibly polished first person, stealth/horror roguelike, The Persistence has you sneaking through the bowels of a space vessel overrun with corrupted crew members. Firesprite nails its sci-fi scares and atmosphere, the lack of checkpoints only adding to the overall tension. It’s a brutal VR game and one that can easily become frustrating given the procedurally generated layout of stages, however.
Killing Floor: Incursion
Developer: Tripwire Interactive
Publisher: Tripwire Interactive
Why you should play it: Over the top gore and combat sequences that will make you feel like a true badass. Tripwire understands that players don’t just want to shoot guns in VR, they want to dual wield fire axes and feel that satisfying crunch when landing a perfect headshot with a sniper rifle. The fact you can share this experience with a friend in online co-op makes Incursion just that little more wacky.
WipEout Omega Collection
Developer: Sony XDEV
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Why you should play it: WipEout’s stunning Omega Collection may have launched last year but only recently got an update, introducing full PSVR integration. It looks just as marvellous as it sounds, thrusting you into the cockpit, blitzing through gorgeous futuristic cityscapes at breakneck speeds. This three-part bundle wasn’t originally built with VR in mind though it works surprisingly well.
Why you should play it: A simplistic puzzler that should serve as a relaxing palette cleanser after stepping away from something a little more intense. Rangi has you beaming around its minimalist stages, moving obstacles with your magic staff, attempting to create lines that will open a portal and allow you progress. It slowly ramps up the challenge though not to the point that it ever becomes frustrating. Nothing about Rangi is overly complex and sometimes that’s exactly what we want from a VR game.