2016 saw the advent of ‘functional consumer virtual reality’, the technology of sci-fi movies and twelve year old kids’ dreams, and a new frontier for gaming and technology alike. So here are our picks for the games that best demonstrated what VR is capable of.
Thumper is described as “rhythm violence” and at first glance, it’s hard to imagine playing Thumper, much less experience it in VR. Thumper is an on-the-rails rhythm game, chock full of frenetic violence and action. You control some sort of space-beetle, following along a demonic path, bouncing off of walls and zooming over obstacles. You zoom into a techno hellscape, full of chaos and phenomenal rhythm. While Thumper succeeds with all of these elements on its own, the shift into VR only heightens the experience. You are a part of the aforementioned hellscape, the action and intense violence slamming right into your face. While I couldn’t previously imagine a game like Thumper not making me sick or nauseous, I found myself enraptured by the rhythms and the action, and forgot all about the PSVR unit on my head. VR is at its best when it makes you forget that, and Thumper not only did that but provided a phenomenal battering of rhythm violence to boot.
Written by Kevin Atteridg
Onward has become something of a killer app amongst those who currently possess PC VR headsets. The game is a 5 vs 5 tactical FPS with a focus on realism and close-quarters combat, with mechanics reminiscent of Squad or ARMA. Friendly fire is always on, bullets are hyper-lethal, once you’re dead you’re out for the round, and there’s no HUD to help you out either. Instead, you must coordinate with teammates through voice comms (in the form of a walkie-talkie on your shoulder), learn how to properly load modern assault rifles, and master the art of counting shots. The learning curve is a bit steep to start, but online tutorials and a genuinely positive community significantly smooth out some of Onward’s rougher edges. It’s become one of the most popular VR games, period, and with new modes, maps, weapons, and balance changes coming all the time, it’s hard not to recommend!
Written by Sam Young
Hey, remember SUPERHOT? You know, that game that makes you feel like a complete badass and has what is possibly one of the best mechanics ever implemented in a video game? It’s in VR now. What this entails is one of the most exciting, satisfying VR games to come out this year, that captures everything fans loved about the original release and makes it work perfectly in virtual reality. This ain’t no cheap cash-in, either: SUPERHOT VR is a brand new experience set in the SUPERHOT universe, with an (admittedly abstract) story all its own, and a couple of cool new tricks that take advantage of VR as a medium in a way that wouldn’t have made sense in the original release. Grabbing the gun out of somebody’s hand, shooting their buddies with it, bending over backwards to dodge bullets, then throwing the gun at their face feels stupid, badass, and tremendously satisfying all at once, and intuitive enough that it hooked all of my friends and family within a minute of them trying it out.
Written by Sam Young