The video game industry has been preparing gamers for virtual reality for a long time now. Every year, technology advances and developers are coming up with more ways to utilize our human senses to craft a better experience. We have fancy headphones that relay sound with the utmost clarity. Sony DualShock controllers vibrate to signal that we are making contact with an object. Video game graphics have evolved to where your aunt asks what new movie you are watching while you’re enjoying a cutscene on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. There are PlayStation Move controllers, prop guns, and steering wheels to help simulate the real thing. PSVR makes use of all of this. As technology continues to improve, we are in for some truly fantastic video games.
After spending a week with PSVR (PlayStation Virtual Reality), I’ve gotten comfortable with not just the system, but also the different types of games available for it. So far, out of all of the genres I have tried, horror games, racing games, simulators, and mech/vehicular combat-styled games seem to showcase the most immersive experience from the tech. Immersion, as it relates to virtual reality, is the perception of being physically present in a non-physical world (Wikipedia). The level of immersion you experience varies from game-to-game. It is seriously bizarre how engulfed you can become in these worlds, so I want to base the majority of my criteria for the list on the experience and fun factor of the game. So, without further ado, let’s get to the list.
ACTUALLY… Before we do that
There are two games that I tried out that will not be on the list. I haven’t played these enough to put them on it, but I do want to give a quick first impression of them.
A) Gran Turismo Sport & Resident Evil 7 (A quick word)
I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot with the VR portion of Gran Turismo Sport. I immediately felt some type of way when I realized the entire game isn’t playable in VR.
I’m not sure if it was advertised that way, but I certainly expected to be able to use my headset for the entire game. The only portion of the game that is playable in VR is the arcade mode. Granted, there is a nice amount of content in arcade mode (as far as the amount of playable tracks); however, I am still disappointed.
Adding to my disappointment is the addition of the VR showroom. This mode allows you to view the exterior of your car in VR mode. While in a garage, you can essentially walk around your car and look at it. That’s all there is to it. Oh, you can also flick the headlights on or off. The VR showroom seems tacked on just to give you something extra to do with your VR headset.
Neither of these games look great visually inside of the headset, either. It is actually really noticeable with Gran Turismo because the game is absolutely gorgeous on the TV screen. Then, you put on the VR headset and the first thing you think is oh. It doesn’t look bad. When you go from TV screen directly to headset, there’s a stark difference though. Resident Evil 7 doesn’t look terrible in the headset; however, Some Gal Named Elaine kept making comments about how unimpressive it looked on the TV screen.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move onward to the main event!
My First Five PSVR Games
5) StarBlood Arena
StarBlood Arena is an arena combat-styled shooter. One of this game’s strengths is that you can move in any direction. On the contrary, enemies can attack from any direction. This definitely takes some getting used to. Until you learn how to fully control your ship, there will be a lot of turning in circles, which can make you pretty dizzy and nauseous at first. However, once you get the hang of it, it is extremely fun, fast-paced, and chaotic.
I’ve spent most of my time in the multiplayer section of the game. Here you have your standard matches: Carnage (death match), Team Carnage, and there is also a mode called Invaders, which is a sort of survival mode. The wait time for matches with this game can take a while depending on what time of day you are playing. During the day, if you are patient, you should be able to find a match in a decent time.
This game is only #5 for a couple of reasons.
A) I don’t really care for the level design. The stages aren’t memorable, and they all seem to be fairly similar. There’s a lot of dark colors like brown, which gives the levels a boring, dull feel.
B) There are a few gameplay elements that the game at #4 on this list has that makes vehicular combat more enjoyable and allows for easier movement. I feel like this game would’ve benefited from them.
Although this game is only at #5, it is still a hell of a good time and something you should check out.
Here is some of my gameplay from an online match. Check it out!!!
4) RIGS Mechanized Combat League
Everything about RIGS screams, “I AM A SPORT. TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!”
You should definitely take it seriously though. If not, you WILL be destroyed…by the computer. The AI in this game is relentless. I am currently sitting at a terrible 0-4 record in career mode, and I am not happy about it. The goal here is to be the best so that you can increase your fame and fortune. You can also get sponsorship deals that award you with extra goodies. There are a variety of different modes that mix up the gameplay. Of course, there’s your standard team death match. There’s an awesome football inspired mode where you have to carry a ball from your side of the field to the other without being killed.
In this game, you are the pilot of one of four mech types. The great thing about these mech are that they all feel different. You actually need to utilize the tutorials and practice facility to make sure you have a good grasp of the different types. There’s one gigantic one that is really powerful. There is this one small mech with wings that flies around and resembles a little bug. Piloting these mechs are a blast! As previously mentioned in the #5 entry, RIGS has two gameplay features that I believe puts it above StarBlood Arena. These mech have a dodge ability making it much easier to avoid enemy gunfire. They also have an ability that allows you to ram enemy mechs. These two small features makes combat a lot different in the two games.
This game is only at #4, which means it too has its mishaps. The wait time for online matches is abysmal right now, and it’s a shame because the gameplay is so much fun. The game would be at least another spot higher if I could consistently play online. Also, when I first got the game, there was a sort of game-breaking glitch. The longer I played the camera would lose track of which direction I was looking. In order for me to look straight, I would have to turn my head further and further left. Because of this, I could only play a couple of matches before I would have to restart the game entirely to fix the issue. This hasn’t happened with any other VR game I’ve played besides this one. I think this may have been fixed because the last two times I’ve played this issue hasn’t happened. If this has been fixed, then you should definitely give this game a try.
(Update – I believe the issue has been fixed. I haven’t had any further problems with it)
3) The Playroom VR
What can I say about The Playroom VR? Whenever someone comes over to try out PSVR, this is a game that I must have them play. The Playroom VR is a game that consists of a bunch of fun, party-styled, mini-games. It stands out from the rest of the list because of the creative ways it involves player 2. Two people can work together to accomplish certain task, or they can battle it out competitively. Two of the mini-games left my mouth wide open with awe. I had to sound like a broken record because I kept saying OMG…
Other than the game at #1, nothing else on this list elicited this type of reaction. The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is because the other mini games weren’t at the same level. They were good, however they weren’t great. If you do happen to try this one out, make sure to try the dinosaur level first. Then, go for the platforming mini-game. It takes place outside and reminds me of the first level of the original Knack. Both of these levels are extremely fun and were two of the most immersive experiences I’ve had so far. Try them out. Then, thank me later.
3) Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Yo, this here is something else. This is the only game on the list that I’ve beaten. Late one night, once everyone was asleep, I turned it on and was prepared to finish the last two chapters of the game. As the intro rolled and the title flashed across the screen, I came to a sudden realization and cut the game off. I realized, at that very moment, that I was scared.
This is especially embarrassing because I was already 80% done with the campaign. I’ve literally watched that intro every single time I’ve turned the game on. I didn’t that night though. After playing this game, I understand that horror games are about to be something special with VR. It is an entirely different experience.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is dark, gritty, and disturbing. There are spiders…there is an entire level full of spiders that need to be killed with fire (I mean you can definitely shoot them, but why? Kill it with fire!) They are everywhere and coming from every direction. Big queen spiders with hundreds of little baby spiders trying to lay eggs on you, which will probably birth hundreds of more tiny baby spiders. In the game, you see them crawling on your hands, but it’s VR so you know it’s not real. But then, you think you feel them in your hair, but you’re not so sure. They scamper from your hair to your face quickly. Then, you panic and shut the game off. You kill the game with fire as punishment for blending reality and fantasy so seamlessly. Afterwards, you vow to never play that evil game again…
I really enjoyed this game. It was decent in length with about 10 levels. Each level had its own theme, and they were all jam-packed with stunning, yet shocking visuals. I have to give a shout-out to the final stage. The final boss fight was impressive and one I will remember for some time.
Overall, this was an enjoyable on-rail shooter filled with scares, secrets, and collectibles. It even has a leaderboard for the hardcore stat chasers. It felt great to visit the Until Dawn universe again. If you’re looking for a shooter that will scare you but keep you on your toes, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood will surprise you with how good it is.
1) Special Delivery
If there’s a story to Special Delivery, I think I know what it is. You’re a random boy in some neighborhood. You have a job delivering newspapers to your subscribers. You gain or lose subscribers based on your performance that day. At least, I think that’s how it works. You see, Special Delivery does a terrible job of explaining the specifics. I honestly don’t know how the subscriber system works. At the end of each route, the game flashes the stats on the screen for .000302040402 seconds, making it impossible to decipher and figure out what anything really means. I know there’s a rival newspaper that disrupts your route every week. I don’t know what they want though. They just kind of show up and start throwing newspapers at you while you throw newspapers at other people (it’s the circle of life). However, none of it matters!None of it! The only thing that matters is finishing all of your deliveries and surviving to the end of your route.
Special Delivery is the most immersive experience for me so far. When you climb on that bike, you feel like the neighborhood bully. The neighborhood feels alive. Your neighbors are always active, and it is always something to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s the random cow tornado that just spawns in the middle of the street or the demolition of the office building at the intersection of 5th & Jackson ave (I definitely just made up those street names. I don’t think there are any actual street names in the game),
Everything is trying to kill you. It doesn’t help that there is a HUGE learning curve because of the controls. Special Delivery utilizes your body to turn. So, you have to lean in whatever direction you would like to go. It sounds simple, but it is pretty challenging at first. However, once you get the hang of it, the neighborhood is yours to roam and semi-explore. It is your job to impose your will on any and everybody, except for your girlfriend of course. She waits for you on just about every block and still acts excited to see you every single time (Awwwww, it gets kind of creepy after a while. I’m also not quite sure if she’s really your character’s girlfriend. She gets really excited whenever you ride pass, so I just assumed. I guess she could be your sister…whatever NONE OF IT MATTERS).
As much as I love this game, I expect more from it. It has so much potential that will be wasted if the devs let this game die with no further updates. You could open the map up more. Add more locations and places to go around the city. Encourage exploration and hide treasures and secrets for us to find. Get rid of the invisible walls and let us make our own routes. There could be DLC with maybe some type of catastrophic natural disaster where we have to escape on our bikes as fast as we can. Give us more of the goods! Don’t let it die!
Check out some of my gameplay for Special Delivery below!