Of all the escapist avenues that video games provide us, virtual reality is by far the most comprehensive. We’re still a good way away from the Star Trek Holodeck, but popping on a VR headset – whether it’s the ageing PSVR or a newer Quest or PC VR set up – is the most all-encompassing and potentially immersive experience you can get right now.
Half a decade on from the widespread launch of VR platforms, it’s a technology that’s still yet to prove itself to many gamers, but we are seeing more and more examples of full, mainstream games being adapted in compelling ways. Our winner in this category is widely regarded as one of the best games of all time.
After years of whispers and rumours, this year saw the announcement and release of a remake of what many (rightly) consider to be the best Resident Evil game of all time – Leon S Kennedy’s European Vacation (AKA Resident Evil 4). As a game that I replay on a regular basis, I was excited to experience it in a new way, but I wasn’t prepared for how transformational the move to VR would be. Everything that made RE4 great back in the early 2000s has been revitalised to the point where it feels like an entirely new game whilst keeping the tone and story of the original.
As with all the best VR games, some of the enjoyment comes from just messing around in the environment – but here with the added bonus of being one of the most iconic locations in gaming history. Whether it’s throwing eggs at plagas then tossing your gun from one hand to another before blasting them in the face or even typing on the iconic savegame typewriters, there are just so many moments that stand out. Resident Evil 4 VR challenges Half Life: Alyx’s record as being the very best VR game.
– Steve C
Hitman 3 – Runner Up
Have you ever wanted to play the entire Hitman World of Assassination trilogy in virtual reality? Well, earlier this year IO Interactive made this a reality with the launch of Hitman 3. From Agent 47’s first training mission through to his final showdown, each chapter and every kill can be experienced in PlayStation VR – a PC VR release is coming in 2022 after the timed exclusivity expires.
Despite these three massive games having been retrofitted to accommodate Sony’s ageing VR tech, it works surprisingly well, even if the accompanying PlayStation Move controllers are a decade old at this point. From burying an axe into a target’s head to placing a well-timed sniper shot, all the gameplay highs are here and made even that more immersive, as you watch 47’s takedowns from behind his very eyes. It’s like a very murderous Being John Malkovich
– Jim H
Ragnarock – Runner Up
VR and rhythm action games are a match made in heaven. Beat Saber continues to be an essential purchase and continually adds new tunes to the mix (this year saw Lady Gaga joining the party) but the cyber aesthetic isn’t the best match for my favourite genre of music. This is where Ragnarock comes in, bringing with it a massive amount of charm and Viking style. Bashing four war drums on a long boat to an assortment of sweet rocking tunes, the mechanics fit the medium so well that it’s impossible not to gain a smile and lose yourself to in the experience. Even better, the developers actively encourage user added songs and a dedicated community have been adding everything from Viking metal greats like Amon Amarth to metal covers of Disney tunes.
– Steve C
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remake/Remaster
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
- Best Independent Game
- Best Gameplay
- Best Narrative
- Best Single Player
Are you a virtual reality connoisseur? What new VR games and experiences have stood out for you through 2021? Let us know in the comments.