VR on the PlayStation: game on
The PlayStation VR is Sony’s answer to the VR headsets that currently dominate the PC platform, but whereas the likes of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require pretty powerful PCs to function, the PlayStation VR runs on the humble PS4, which is a fraction of the price.
The comparatively low cost of the console, combined with the low cost of the headset itself, means that the PlayStation VR is one of the most affordable VR experiences yet.
Now with E3 2016 safely behind us we’ve got our clearest look yet at the games that we’re going to be using the PlayStation VR to play.
So with the headset due out in just a few short months, there are the 10 best experiences we’ve had on the device so far.
Resident Evil 7
The next entry in seminal horror franchise Resident Evil was clearly inspired by a spectacular game demo shown off at last year’s E3 to coincide with series rival Silent Hill: P.T. But, developer Capcom is taking that one step further with an insanely immersive-looking VR implementation. Set in an abandoned mansion, you’re placed in the shoes of an unknown and confused survivor in a derelict mansion. With only vague scribbles on torn sheets of paper to guide them, you must find a way out of the locked house while learning of the horrors that transpired there – but you soon learn that you’re not alone and something sinister is lurking in the shadows.
If this teaser that we’ve played is any indication of what the final game will be like, then we’ve got something quite terrifying in store for us.
Chances are, the original Battlezone might have passed you by if you’re under 40 – Atari’s 1980 arcade game doesn’t quite hold the same iconic status as Pong. However, it’s generally considered to be the very first VR game, which is why British developer Rebellion bought the rights from Atari so that it could remake it for modern VR headsets. The result is one of the best VR experiences we’ve had to date. The gameplay is fun (think a futuristic take on World of Tanks), but it’s the striking but simple graphics that are the key to the overall enjoyment. While a lot of VR games try to go as realistic as possible, Battlezone’s Tron-like game world is more absorbing than nearly everything else we’ve played.
The Playroom VR
Even the coldest of hearts will be melted by The Playroom. The little robots that star in the game will be familiar to the three people who played the original Playroom, which was bundled with the PlayStation Camera when it launched with the PS4 back in November 2013. Basically, these droids are the anthropomorphised versions of the company’s famous Aibo dogs, and you get to play around with them in this virtual Playroom. In one mini-game, the player with the VR headset is a monster, while four players using a TV and DualShock 4 controllers try to avoid the debris he throws at them. There are also toybox demos where you just look into a miniature house and observe the droids as they go to the gym, go swimming, watch TV and so forth. The Playroom VR will be bundled with the headset when it launches, essentially becoming PlayStation VR’s version of Wii Sports.
The London Heist
The London Heist is Sony’s most obvious attempt to make a VR game that will appeal to traditional PlayStation gamers – it could even be a sequel to The Getaway, right down to the dodgy Guy Ritchie-esque Cockerney gangster stereotypes. We’ve seen the game demonstrate a lot of different gameplay strands – there are interrogations, car chases and even actual heists – but from what we can ascertain the finished game is going to be an on-rails shooter. While no one was particularly asking for a VR update of Virtua Cop and Time Crisis, the genre is definitely suited to virtual reality – and leaning out of a moving car to shoot bad guys does make you feel pretty badass.
Developer: Media Molecule
Listing Dreams here is cheating a little bit, as it’s the only game on this list that we haven’t actually played. However, as it’s from Media Molecule, the Bafta-winning creators of LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway, we’ll make an exception. Even if it doesn’t reach the lofty heights of those games, Dreams is highly original – you recreate your dreams and explore the dreams of others within a 3D space. It’s not clear how it will actually work, but the E3 2015 stage demo showed someone using a PlayStation Move motion controller to make characters dance. And who wouldn’t want to be able to explore their dreams in virtual reality? OK, probably a lot of people, but at least Dreams appears to be exploring the abstract nature of your unconscious mind, rather than those nightmares in which you’re giving a presentation to your boss and you suddenly realise you don’t have any trousers on.
Developer: CCP Games
Eve Valkyrie isn’t exclusive to PlayStation VR – it has already come out for Oculus Rift, and it will be coming to the Vive shortly. However, because it’s been in development for so long, it’s one of the most polished experiences on any VR platform right now. Developer CCP Games was one of the first companies to start working on a VR-exclusive game, and while it was impressive when it was first shown a couple of years ago, it’s really starting to look like a finished game now. There’s no genre better suited to virtual reality than space combat: when you realise you can just move your head around to track enemies you’ll wonder how you ever played such games on a flat screen.
Eagle Flight is the strangely Assassin’s Creed-esque flight simulator set in the skies of post-apocalyptic Paris. This strange premise puts you in control of an eagle as you swoop through narrow pathways and kill your fellow birds of prey. Eagle Flight appeases that simple wish to fly that, until now, you’ve only had in your dreams. Your eagle will fly wherever you look, whether that’s through an open window or down a derelict sewer tunnel or straight into the wall of a 15th century chapel. Gameplay is both strangely addictive and nail-bitingly intense when you’re on the wrong side of a dogfight. Best of all, according to Ubisoft the game will be available on launch day.
RIGS: Mechanized Combat League
Developer: Sony (Guerilla Cambridge)
You might be surprised by the lack of first-person action games being developed for virtual reality platforms. However, RIGS may explain why there aren’t more: it’s pretty nauseating, at least when we played it at E3 2015. It’s a sports game rather than a traditional shooter, although guns are involved – certain players have to make it through a hoop in the middle of an arena to score a point for their team, while the opposing team has to try and shoot them down. It’s a cool concept – like a game of Capture the Flag with a basketball twist – but it’s too fast and frantic for VR. Hopefully these issues will be ironed out ahead of release.
Developer: Highwire Games
Golem will be one of the first hybrid virtual reality console games. Some parts of it will be spent with DualShock 4 in hand controlling a human character and crafting the eponymous fictional creatures then, when it’s time to take them out for a spin, you’ll don the headset and see the world through the creature’s’ eyes. Golem’s creator, Jaime Griesemer, was one of the creators of the original Halo on Xbox. Now he and Halo’s composer Marty O’Donnell have set out to pioneer the next big platform with a platformer that they hope will sell as well as Halo did all those years ago.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Developer: Supermassive Games
One of our favorite aspects of PlayStation VR is just how many different genres of games it has. DriveClub in VR will satiate racing game fans’ need for speed, while GNOG will put fans of puzzle games face-to-face with a dozens of colorful enigmas to solve. Unlike either of those, Until Dawn: Rush of Blood will join Resident Evil 7 in being PlayStation VR’s first foray into the horror genre that will strap you into a carnival-esque rollercoaster and send you hurtling through of funhouse of horrors. While the controls are fairly limited, the real “fun” to be had in Rush of Blood, a standalone VR game set in Until Dawn’s engrossing frightworld, comes from tumbling from one jump scare to the next with a deathgrip on both the controller and your bladder. Trust me kids, nothing is scarier than almost peeing your pants in a room full of your friends.