2018 has been the year virtual reality gaming stepped up a notch, with the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR now readily available to buy in the UK with falling price tags. With so many titles available for PSVR on the PlayStation Store, which VR titles are worth spending your hard earned cash on?
If you're new to the world of virtual reality, why don't you take a look at our complete guide to VR.
While the original Superhot didn’t boast any VR support, it immediately felt like the sort of game that was built for the platform. For one thing it’s already set in a virtual world, but it also gives you the chance to act out your wildest Matrix fantasies thanks to first-person bullet-time combat.
Naturally, that translates to VR exceptionally well, not least thanks to the fact that rather than simply port the original title, the devs have re-built Superhot from the ground up for VR. That’s principally to remove movement - beyond simple dodging - without breaking the core premise of the game: the world moves only when you do.
That means you now stand, watching static enemies who spring into life as you move your arm to aim your gun or lean out of the way of an incoming bullet.
Each stage sees you fight off a handful of enemies from one spot, and stages are strung together into sequences that you must complete in one go - die in one and you restart the sequence. It’s challenging, but never unfair, and there are always multiple ways to survive the onslaught, from grabbing a gun, to throwing nearby objects, or even to stealing weapons from the bad guys.
And if any VR game can top the feeling of tilting your head to watch a bullet streak past in slo-mo, we haven’t found it yet.
Robinson: The Journey
Robinson: The Journey is one of the most hyped PlayStation VR games to date, and it's easy to see why. From the moment the game started and I found myself in my emergency pod, detail of the textures and environment blew me away. Crytek is famous for creating games with spectacular graphics, and Robinson: The Journey didn’t disappoint.
The graphics are superb and the environment feels ‘alive’, so much so that I felt that I became the lone explorer as I wandered around the jungle searching for HIGS units to scan, and played hide and seek with my pet T-Rex. The environment is huge and filled with objects to interact with, along with a huge library of pre-historic animals to discover and document.
The only real issue is the lack of Move baton support. Using a controller to explore is fine and it’s fun to look around the virtual world, but it’d be much more immersive if I had the ability to scan, levitate and interact with the world using my own hands.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
One of the rare VR games built exclusively for multiplayer, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes will test your cooperation and communication skills to the limit.
The player in the VR headset finds themselves alone in a room with a bomb, and a timer ticking down. It’s their job to describe what they see to the other players - and ultimately defuse the bomb.
Everyone else has access to a set of defusal instructions, which they can access either on the TV screen or through a phone, tablet, or PC web browser. They’ve got to work through the often byzantine instructions to figure out which wires to cut or buttons to press - and let the VR player know.
There’s a whole range of different bomb modules with different defusal rules, and you can set custom difficulty settings by changing the timer and number of modules. It’s all randomised, so you’ll never deal with the same bomb twice.
One word of warning: this is fiendishly difficult, and is almost guaranteed to ruin friendships.
With actor Elijah Wood as artistic director, Transference always had aspirations to be more than 'just' a game, bringing in real actors and a cinematic style to lend a bit of extra Hollywood flair.
That may sound very forward-thinking, but really gamers have been through all this before - remember the '90s wave of FMV games boasting live-action cut scenes? Still, even if Transference isn't really treading new ground, it does still deliver on its promise of claustrophobic thrills.
Available to play either in VR or not (though trust us, it's better with the headset) the game sees you explore the small apartment of the Hayes family. Except this isn't really their apartment - it's a digital simulacrum created by Raymond Hayes to house digital copies of his family for eternity, and it's your job to pick apart exactly what happened to the Hayes family, unpacking a dark domestic story as you go.
You navigate the apartment through a fairly linear story that sees you flit between different timelines, often bringing objects back and forth or using information gleaned in one version of the apartment to solve a puzzle in the other. Puzzle complexity drops off a bit across the games 3 or 4 hours, but there are a few great head-scratchers and a satisfyingly opaque rhythm to it all.
It's also scary - especially in VR. This is a thriller first and foremost, but it breaks out into horror every now and then, and does a better job of it than most 'proper' VR horror titles, with a smart mix of panicky jump scares and tense claustrophobic dread.
The Inpatient is a prequel to the acclaimed PS4 choose-your-own-horror game Until Dawn. That game saw you controlling members of a group of ill-fated teens up on a mountain near an abandoned asylum, and The Inpatient (predictably enough) casts you as one of the inmates back in the facility's heyday.
Like Until Dawn, the narrative is built around the 'butterfly effect' mechanic, with every choice you make impacting the shape of the story going forwards, often in ways that are tricky to predict. That encourages a lot of replayability, and plenty of people will probably want to run through the 2-3 hour story a few times to play around with how it shakes out.
Most of your interaction is actually just walking and talking, though there are also some (admittedly awkward) motion controls dotted around. This is mostly when interacting with objects that serve as clues to the story, teasing a few details that will be familiar to fans of the original game.
Best of all though, it is actually scary. Less so as the story progresses (the curse of most horror, sadly) but the first hour or so manages a nice mix of subtle dread and in-your-face jump scares that should satisfy any genre fans.
I Expect You to Die
The 007 influence on I Expect You to Die goes well beyond the game’s Goldfinger-referencing title. It casts you as a British secret agent in the ‘60s tasked with taking down the sinister Zoraxis corporation, and comes complete with silly gadgets, ludicrous plots, and a big band theme song.
In terms of gameplay, this is a first-person puzzle game. Each level gives you a specific goal - escape an airplane, destroy a supervirus - but leaves you to figure out how.
Most objects in your environment are manipulable, but there are traps and enemies lying in wait, so survival requires a combination of puzzle-solving, trial-and-error, and quick reflexes to make it out alive.
The game also has a wicked sense of humour (What’s in that drawer? Surprise grenades!) and does a great job of keeping you on your toes even as you replay a stage for the nth time to get the sequence just right.
I find myself stranded on an alien planet with "standard issue equipment" to keep me alive, and the objective of reaching The Pilgrim, a downed space station. The planet is swarming with aliens of all different shapes and sizes, from small spider-like animals that spit and jump at me to huge behemoths that charge at me with devastating effect. I’m supplied with a single weapon at the beginning and discover more as I advance, helping to keep the game fresh and exciting as I confront ever more powerful enemies.
Intrigued? You should be. Farpoint is different from the rest of the PSVR lineup as it was the first game to take advantage of an (optional) accessory: the Aim Controller. Aim is essentially a gun, complete with triggers, buttons and a sensor to be used in virtual reality, and provides a much more realistic experience than using the Move controllers.
While the tracking isn't quite 1:1, feeling the gun in my hands and aiming as I would in real life really immersed me in the extra-terrestrial world of Farpoint, and made the overall experience that much better.
Essentially, if you’re looking for an immersive FPS for PlayStation VR, you won’t find much better than Farpoint.
London Heist (part of PlayStation VR Worlds)
The London Heist is a mini-game part of PlayStation VR Worlds, and is hands-down our favourite of them all.
At one point in the experience, I found myself in the passenger seat of a white transit van next to a typical East London gangster, complete with a bald head and thick cockney accent. Anyway, me and my cockney pal were being chased by a Russian gang on bikes and in cars, and it was up to us to stop the pursuit. The game supports PlayStation Move batons, which allowed me to physically reach out and grab the SMG on the dashboard and open fire.
The game is immersive and realistic, thanks in part to elements like manual reloading. As exploding cars flipped around us and bodies went flying, I completely forgot that I was in my bedroom. As far as I was concerned, I was a gun-toting East London gangster shooting up a rival gang on an empty motorway – and it was great. I even had a slightly thicker-than-normal cockney accent once the experience was over!
Battlezone is a reimagining of the 80s-classic built from the ground up for VR, and is another personal favourite of mine because c’mon, who doesn’t like blowing things up with tanks?
The campaign can be undertaken off- or online, where users must make their way across a map of hexagonal tiles with each tile representing a randomly generated mission.
The ability to communicate with two other online PSVR gamers in a single map allows you to co-ordinate your attack, enabling us to take out waves of enemies quickly and effectively. It also allowed me a second to appreciate the small details of the game, like the cockpit display that show live information about your shields, bullets, etc.
The graphics and lighting are impressive, especially in the cockpit, and I can confidently say that this game will bring hours of enjoyment to any PlayStation VR gamer.