PlayStation VR launched to better than anticipated numbers a little over a month ago. With an estimated unit number of 2.6 million being sold before the end of 2016, it’s no doubt Sony’s venture into virtual reality gaming has won over skiddish early adopters. The true test of any new entertainment hardware lies in content support. Sony came out with some true eye-opening experiences on VR and some that simply felt like cushioning for a catalog number. Now that we’ve tried EVERY PSVR game and app available, here’s the favorite five countdown:
HULU – (Free to download, subscription required)
Stay with me for a second. The value of a costly piece of new tech is its ability to go beyond intended purpose. Sure there are some great games and good VR media experiences but most don’t feel fleshed out enough. HULU is a service a lot of people are already familiar with. Watching recent episodes of your favorite network TV and originals like Casual is already embedded in a lot of consumers entertainment routine. On PSVR, HULU feels like a new experience. Activating the VR mode puts the wearer in a virtual living room where you can choose several different ambiances ranging from a tropical beach to the void of outer space. It’s a neat thing which is probably nicer than most of our real living rooms. Plus, less vacuuming. There’s a library of 360 video experiences from channels like National Geographic and Discovery. You’ll get the full taste of being in the center of the Mythbusters blowing up a house or a freaky shark encounter deep under water. Unlike playing a PS4 game in theater mode, watching regular TV in HULU VR feels grandiose. You’ll watch your favorite shows on a 100-inch screen in your virtual living room. What’s not to like? PSVR isn’t something gamers will play with every day. Most of the games have a shelflife of a few hours. Something like HULU VR adds another dimension for PSVR owners, one you can spend more hours in than some of the games.
JOB SIMULATOR – Owlchemy Labs ($29.99)
What VR has the ability to do more than any game system since Nintendo Wii is to bring in people who don’t play video games. Job Simulator is a perfect example of an easy going and addictive experience, a tongue-in-cheek virtual reality experience for PSVR. In a world where robots have replaced all human jobs, step into the “Job Simulator” to learn what it was like ‘to job’. Job Simulator isn’t what you’d call “revolutionary”, in fact much of the fun you’ll have is seeing the reactions of other people playing the game. In a way, it goes against what modern gaming has become. Instead of focusing on making the most powerful and realistic looking game out there, Job Simulator plays to the classic effort/reward system games like Centipede or PacMan were built on. If you don’t believe the amount of fun you’ll have playing this game then just watch Conan O’Brien play it.
SPORTSBAR VR – Cherry Pop Games ($19.99)
My mom wouldn’t let me go to pool halls as a kid. What responsible parent would let their 10 year old go when they asked, right? She said, you can’t go there that’s where the bad people go; but it sounds more ominous in Spanish. As an adult, I don’t want to go to them either. Not from a fear of anyone. When you get older, staying home sounds better than anything. Thanks to SportsBar VR, you get all the fun of pool hall games with just the right amount of social interaction. Putting players in a virtual bar, you’ll be able to challenge other PSVR owners online in games of darts, air hockey, skeeball, and yes billiards. While the game has a bit of a learning curve in how you’ll navigate the bar and get into games; once you get a feel for the environment, it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience. Like a jerk at a real pool hall, players can interact with almost everything in the bar. Pick up a jukebox and smash it, throw beer bottles like misdemeanors don’t exist. Ideally, the only missing component I would have liked is to be able to construct some kind of avatar for other players to see. Other than that, you’ll be able to simulate a fun night out while saving tons of bail money you’d need when you had too much fun. Getting back to the game.
Billiards feels intuitive and when combined with the PS move controllers, gives a necessary weight you want on your senses in VR. The rest of the games you’ll get to play all come with keen touches that give them the same semi-real feel. If the developer and Sony can get around the legality of using money in a game, one could see it being the first game in the PS ecosystem to let players make wagers much like the new Tetris game available on mobile platforms. It was one of the top ten downloaded PSVR games for the month and with it still going strong there could be even more added to this game in the near future on top of already being able to get enjoyable mileage out of your initial download. For $20 it’s a must have for PSVR owners.
EAGLE FLIGHT – Ubisoft Montreal ($39.99)
Virtual reality was made to put you in the figurative shoes of different things; goats, robots, crime fighters. One thing I didn’t think I’d be able to step into without throwing up was being an eagle. In Eagle Flight you’ll become a majestic soaring symbol of awesomeness flying through a post-apocalyptic Paris. The game does take a bit of adjustment since you’ll control flight by your own head motion. The more you tilt and turn your head the steeper eagle you will course correct. Once you go through the game’s tutorial you’ll be amazed at how at home flying and fighting with other birds above Paris becomes. The game even comes with a story mode which sees you collecting to navigating abandoned subways to escorting injured eagles to safety — all while fending off pesky vultures and crows with your supersonic eagle scream. In addition to the stately story mode, players can jump into two multiplayer modes where you’ll use your skills to take down six other players in a mid-air dogfight. Eagle Flight is a gorgeous game. One which on VR shows how artistry can blend with a rewarding gaming experience. If not for the somewhat higher price point than most VR games, it would have made the number one spot on the list.
Batman Arkham VR – Rocksteady/WB Games ($19.99)
Virtual reality Batman! It’s basically that episode of Batman: The Animated Series where the Riddler makes batman plug into the game he’d left at police headquarters, come to life. While it’s not as deadly as that, the game does put you into one of the most brutal Batman stories told since the Joker blew up Jason Todd. You’re tasked with finding Nightwing’s killer. If you’ve played through the game you know the full story but if you haven’t we won’t give you any major spoilers. The case will get you up close and personal with the likes of Killer Croc and the Penguin. While Arkham VR sets aside rhythmic fighting action for a more cerebral focused game, it does it in such a way that feels like more than just a point and click adventure. You’ll do all the things a Batman should do; examine bodies, mix and match blood samples, and throw batarangs. While PlayStation VR isn’t a true 3D experience, Batman best shows how immersive storytelling can be done in VR. On top of all the great things this game is, it has the distinction of being THE reason to get a PSVR system. Now let’s get that Detective Chimp game!
PlayStation VR is off to a terrific start. The tale of any good launch window is always what are we going to get next? If you jumped on PSVR early you can expect some of pop culture’s biggest name franchises to come to VR soon including Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, and Star Wars.
If you’ve played some of these launch titles I’m curious what you liked best? Rigs? VR Worlds? DriveClub VR?
Also if you’ve indulged my little list here on a Saturday then you deserve a prize. Here’s a STEAM PC game key for a Non-VR game very near and dear to Beat Manor:
3F97K-06E6A-8D784 (First come first serve) enjoy!