While Sony may have had a mixed response to its State of Play stream, the range of PSVR titles it showed was truly impressive. From shooters to platformers, Sony’s lineup looks like it will satisfy the needs of a decent portion of all 4.2 million PSVR owners. But not all of them are created equally and while the breadth is astounding, some are naturally going to be better than the others. And after playing almost every PSVR title from that State of Play, there are some clear winners.
7. No Man’s Sky Beyond
Given the easygoing nature of the game and the perspective, VR support seemed like a given before No Man’s Sky came out. However, after launch, VR was the last thing on everyone’s mind since the game was a bit of a mess. But the title is in a good place almost three years later, making it a great time to implement the highly requested feature that most people had probably forgotten about.
Exploring planets in virtual reality is naturally more isolating than it ever was since VR focuses your vision in a way that flat gaming can’t. Reaching around to your back to grab your gun as well as aiming and firing is intuitive and a better way to grab materials, blast the environment, or create structures. The menus might take a bit to get used to but using your hands to tap through hologram menus located on your wrists is much more engrossing than digging through a typical HUD.
Flying the ship is the highlight though because of how it uses the Move controllers to fulfill a fantasy that a traditional controller can’t. The throttle requires that you lay the left wand horizontally and push or pull forward to thrust. The other flight stick remains vertical and you have to use it like a joystick in order to control the ship. Making the controls crudely emulate a simulacrum of an actual cockpit is the extra visceral push it needed to be more than just another viewpoint on the same game. Placing the player in the cockpit in VR is immersive as well as it makes those controls help sell the illusion of being Luke Skywalker during the trench run just a bit more.
However, much like the Death Star, there is one glaring issue that threatens the whole package. No Man’s Sky’s PSVR support causes the game to run at a nauseatingly choppy frame rate. But sadly, this isn’t shocking given how the regular game chugs on both current PS4 models. It’s possible that Hello Games could smoothen it all out before launch, but, again, given the instability of the root game, it doesn’t seem likely. So while it may be a novel, more engrossing way to play this constantly evolving exploration game, you may also need to pack a barf bag with your headset.
6. Everybody’s Golf VR
Sports are the easy go-to for VR and Hot Shots Golf VR Everybody’s Golf VR sure fits that mold. VR lets the player step into the golfing shoes of the avatar instead of watching from a third-person perspective. And instead of its signature meter, you have, well, nothing.
Everybody’s Golf VR requires that you use your depth perception and foot placement to gauge how hard to swing instead of an accessible meter everyone can read. This means it will take some practice to explore what is full power and what is not since there is no physical feedback when playing in VR. This disconnect made it much more difficult to judge how far the ball was going to go and felt like it was only for experienced golfers. Hopefully, players will be able to acclimate and be able to more accurately predict how hard to hit it as they make it through the game’s 50 or so holes.
Golf nuts may be more into the game because of how minute every small gesture changes how you hit the ball. Rotating the wand while swinging will cause it to curve accordingly and this sort of control is likely meant for people who want to do more than hit the ball Happy Gilmore-style. However, if you do club it well, the tiny white ball is hard to track given how the PSVR camera can’t zoom to the ball as it flies away.
While you’ll be able to swing practice shots before every swing that show you whether you’ll hit the ball or not, the more hardcore controls seemed aimed at people who want a more “realistic” golfing experience. Even though holes will suck in nearby balls when you’re putting, this runs a little counter to the non-VR entries in the series and may not have as much for that more casual audience.
5. Concrete Genie
Concrete Genie was announced a traditional video game but it’ll also come with a separate PSVR mode as well. While they share some similarities, they’re for different moods. The PSVR section is more serene and places the player into an arena that lets them use the Move controllers to paint different vegetation in the environment or stars in the sky.
A little genie roams around the player and has different interactions for each type of item that you paint into existence. It may go cuddle up by the fire or eat an apple that you dropped on the ground. Figuring out what the little guy wants you to do gives it some puzzle-like objectives but it isn’t traditionally challenging and its slower pace might not be for everyone. It’s more of a meditative experience that will probably be a nice, temporary distraction from the main game.
4. Blood and Truth
Blood and Truth gives off the appearance of being a run of the mill shooter and, honestly, it is. But the novelty of being developed around VR gives it an upper hand as it’s one of the bigger, story-based first-person shooters the platform has seen so far.
Firefights place the player behind cover and peeking over it to shoot requires that you physically move around. Putting the Move controllers up to your face and looking down the actual in-game sight is a natural response to a shooting game like this and it still feels good to do. It evokes a similar feeling of playing cops and robbers as a kid except Blood and Truth has a more cockney accents.
Manually slapping a clip into the gun and reaching to your hip or back to holster your weapon is also intuitive and simple and also helps contribute to living through an action film like Hardcore Henry. Shooting thrives off the explosive pacing of it all and the intimacy that VR naturally brings.
But it goes beyond shooting. You’ll be using the Move controllers to do more mundane actions like picking locks, grabbing nearby bottles and cans, throwing back grenades, unscrewing screws, and more. All of these actions combine together for a game that seems to be all about putting you in the action and designing around the platform it has been built for. On paper, Blood and Truth seems standard because of how it probably wouldn’t catch much interest if it were a regular shooter. But in action, it appears to fully embrace its VR foundation and use that viewpoint to give players familiar gameplay systems in a new package with an amount of polish few shooting galleries could attest to.
3. Falcon Age
Falcon Age, as is the case with Trover Saves the Universe, is playable on normal displays but is truly meant to played in VR. From the concept to the execution, it’s built from the ground up to take advantage of what virtual reality can do and should be commended for it.
It’s an action adventure game that takes place on a modestly sized hub world that opens up as you collect more gadgets for you and your trusty falcon. The bird can directed to activate certain buttons, hunt, bring items to you, as well as attack enemies so you can club them while they’re down. Cooperating is essential since you’ll need to help your feathered friend so it can help you.
Whistling to call your bird and sending it commands are both intuitive as you merely mime those actions with the Move controller. Your electric whip also matches the motion controller well as it copies your swings and whips as you’re beating the hell out of some robots.
Naturally translating motions like that into VR is essential for the medium but Falcon Age‘s most remarkable aspects is how it uses VR to strengthen the bond between the player and the bird. Not only can you call it to perch on your arm, but you can also pull arrows lodged in its skin, pet it, dress it up, feed it, and even have it do tricks.
Interacting so intimately with the bird helps you build a bond with it in a way a controller and regular TV couldn’t. This connection fits alongside a narrative about colonization filtered through a science fiction lens, which wasn’t prevalent in the demo, but is a promising premise nonetheless. Falcon Age controls well, looks sharp, and is unique enough to be one of PSVR’s most intriguing titles this year.
2. Trover Saves the Universe
Trover Saves the Universe almost undoes how annoying the worst Rick and Morty fans can be. Little has changed since we played the game at E3 2018 so it might be better to read our full preview for a more detailed breakdown.
But in essence, it is still hilarious and stupid in all the right ways but also has an inventive gameplay hook that gives it life beyond its barrage of jokes. The sense of humor goes from the bizarre improvisation that Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland is known for to roasting video game tropes. Its comedy is nestled in the environment, dialogue, and moments, meaning that you’ll always be close to another wisecrack. Not everyone will care for its style, but enough people will probably get at least a chuckle or two out of it.
Controlling Trover like a normal platforming mascot to teleport the player around the environment is a solid concept and further fits the game’s undying commitment to VR. The utterly ridiculous and nearly unexplainable premise and gameplay systems are built around virtual reality in a way that more games should learn from. Even its simple visual style appears to be aware of the hardware limitations of VR, as its vibrant palette intelligently opts to go for fewer, brighter colors over a realistic motif that would only look muddy with a headset on.
Trover Saves the Universe could have easily cashed in on being tangentially related to Rick and Morty. But instead it looks like it’ll be able to stand on its own and be one of the best and most hilarious VR games out this year.
1. Iron Man VR
Iron Man VR was one of the few surprises in Sony’s upcoming PSVR lineup as it was an unexpected mix of developer, platform, and license. And though it was easy to cynically look at that fusion and expect a nausea simulator starring a goateed smartass, it was actually one of Sony’s most promising PSVR titles it has on its slate. Although, it still does star a goateed smartass.
While you can read our full, more detailed thoughts here along with an extensive interview with the game’s director here, Iron Man VR basically puts you in Tony Stark’s iconic thrusters in a way suited for VR. You use the Move controllers as if you were mimicking the Iron Avenger himself: palms out to shoot and arms to your sides to fly through the air. You can move each arm independently to fire and propel yourself.
It’s a little tricky at first to fly where you want to fly while shooting what you want to shoot without looking its your first day in the suit. But instead of being a clunky mess, the controls give it depth because you’ll be getting better at the game while you play. Even though there are some training wheels to keep you on track, it’s a lot like the early Tony Hawk games in that the maneuvers are there but it is up to you, as a player, to improve.
Director Ryan Payton, however, did say that the game would have more upgrades including some ballistic weapons, the Unibeam, and more. And even though these might add some more to the core gameplay, it’s that core that appears to be solid enough to warrant the confidence developer Camouflaj has in it. The voice acting sounded a bit shaky but it has a good chance of finally being the Iron Man game we’ve deserved in a medium that it is organically suited to.