NO SPANDEX SATURDAY: Virtual Reality Wasn’t Dead in 2018 and These Experiences Prove It.

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Virtual Reality’s year sets up the tech for an even brighter 2019.

Virtual reality technology has been a polarizing subject in gaming even before 2018. Many have predicted consumer-friendly devices like Oculus and PlayStation VR would wear thin quickly. Especially in the case of Sony’s track record of failing the PS Vita. But 2018 saw VR become home to some truly unique games and immersive experiences. Here’s the five you should pick up in case VR was on your holiday wish list.

 

Marvel Powers United VR (Oculus)

Since I first got my hands on the slice of Spidey VR in Homecoming, I wanted VR to go beyond cosplay and give me the gamma strength of the Hulk or Rocket’s jetpack. Sanzaru Games brought the thunder when it launched Marvel Powers United VR. The game allowed you to team up online with up to four friends each taking on different characters from the Marvel universe such as Wolverine, Captain Marvel, and Deadpool to name a few. There was no cooler feeling than being 3ft tall as Rocket Raccoon and looking up at Deadpool’s abdomen. The attention to character heights, traversal methods, and even mannerisms players could control using touch controllers was beyond meticulous. Challenge was a bit light and the story fell a bit short of memorable but the game’s fun factor made up for many of its short comings. If you’re a comic book fan or even just a Marvel fan with VR, Powers United should be high priority on your list.

 

Gun Club VR (PlayStation VR)

Shooty shooty bang bang is one of the pillars of VR and Gun Club VR by studio The Binary Mill satisfies something primal due to its level of detail. Using the PlayStation Move controls as avatars for your own hands, the game doesn’t skimp on making you cock pistols or full charge pump action shotguns. The firing ranges it puts you in feel more like training courses than they do simple target practice. It does recycle much of its own content by having you do the same things you just did on high difficulties or throwing in cardboard zombies for variety. There’s also a bit of a learning curve when using two handed long range rifles but it definitely didn’t take away much from the overall experience. For what it lacks in story and content it makes up for in sheer level of detail and meatiness. It’s phenomenal to see close to real life form bullets slide into and pop out of the chambers of each weapon so close that you can almost reach out and touch them along with looking at other little things like countries of origin stamped on them as well. If you’re looking for a shooting range to go with your PSVR system Gun Club VR is one of those simple things anyone can do and have fun with.

CREED: Rise To Glory (PSVR, Oculus)

VR isn’t just about shooting, it’s meant to get you up and off the couch. There’s no better workout than stepping into the red, white, and blue trunks of Adonis Creed. Following the path of the Ryan Coogler film Creed, this VR boxing game takes you from fighting in Mexico bars to the heavyweight prize fight climax of the film. Using the two touch controllers, you’ll push yourself as you simulate running and various rhythm done by boxers preparing for their bouts. Once you step in the ring against opponents, the game goes beyond simple pattern recognition. Computer opponents at higher difficulties have a sense of unpredictability forcing you to rely on a balance of defense and quick offense. Play CREED RTG long enough and you’ll definitely get your heart rate moving just make sure to enjoy the montage you’ll play through in the story’s climax set to the most iconic movie music of all.

Tetris Effect (PlayStation VR)

Every game is a unique piece of art, but few games feel like they should be hanging on a gallery wall like Tetris Effect. We’ve been playing the classic Russian puzzle game Tetris since the days of the big gray handheld Game Boy and in those decades the game has added competitive modes, adapted to various other jewel matching titles, and generally diluted itself. Tetris Effect slices away fat to emphasize the core of what made it great, challenge. Giving you some of the most difficult levels and speeds should be infuriating but the preparing it layers on has a calming influence which actually helps gameplay. Visions of exploding color and surreal scenery are a feast for the eyes and then there’s the way music in each stage is linked to your button presses. When you get such an addictive visual and musical rhythm going you simply don’t care that the whole thing is going to overflow. While the game can be enjoyed in standard PlayStation 4 displays, it’s the VR of the game that immerses you as though 20 firework shows were going on all around you. This is a must for PlayStation VR owners.

Beat Saber VR (PC, PSVR)

While it is a port of a PC game to PSVR, it’s transition only lacks the ability to import your own tracks. The rest is ever present. Beat Saber VR puts you in an active version of Guitar Hero. You’ll use the move controllers to rhythmically slice through color blocks flying at you while dodging other objects. It’s a feeling that’s part Lars Ulrich and part Jedi. Much like Tetris Effect there’s an addiction that comes along with playing Beat Saber that’s welcoming to everyone whether music is your thing or challenge. The sheer level of satisfying exhaustion you’ll feel once you progress to more difficult levels of the game is enough to make this feel worth your money. Beat Saber is also an experience that requires as much immersion as you can get so don’t skimp on wearing some quality headphones over whatever icebucket you choose to put on your head play it as the constant pounding of the bass feels like something Zack Snyder came up with.

 

2019 is shaping up to be another good year for consumer based virtual reality. From major franchises such as Star Wars Darth Vader entry to smaller independent made experiences like Vacation Simulator, there’s no shortage of quality software to immerse players in incredible worlds. We’ll be sure to bring you the best of the best as the year goes on.

 

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