Virtual reality is really blowing up in popularity right now.
Everywhere you turn, there are new stories about exciting developments in the technology, and announcements of brand new games that make use of VR to create immersive, enjoyable experiences.
But with so many games appearing on your radar, how can you find the perfect titles? Which games are must-have, medium-defining experiences, and which ones look flashy, but are ultimately skippable?
At its core, virtual reality is the same as any game platform—there’s no definitive list of what a person will or won’t like—it does still boil down to their taste. That said, good virtual reality games will share elements of smart design and pay attention to the virtual reality technology. Here are some important points that you should bear in mind when choosing which VR games to invest your time and money in:
Unique Virtual Reality Utilization
There are a lot of ways to use VR in a game, and plenty of studios are trying out varied approaches.
Many studios, though, eager to make an extra sale on the wave of VR novelty, are looking to add virtual reality into a game that doesn’t otherwise need it. There are a lot of titles that are designed for traditional screens, which have been given a VR mode simply for the sake of being modern.
These are games to avoid—if a studio isn’t deliberately focusing on VR, that mode will always be an afterthought. This means less development time will be spent on a game’s VR capabilities, and less time on its bug testing, than a full VR-only game will get.
The exception to this is when big studios, such as Square Enix, go out of their way to create a separate VR mode for their legacy games. Final Fantasy XV VR and Resident Evil 7 VR aren’t just using different tech for an existing game, they’ve created wholly new experiences.
Focus on Immersion
The best VR games will be the ones that play to the strengths of the medium. While there are interesting RTS and third-person platformers coming for VR devices, these are experimenting with a novel viewpoint for games which are already proven to work well on traditional screens.
If anything, for a stellar virtual reality experience, you want to look for VR games that absolutely won’t work if they’re not played in virtual reality. These are the games that have been given genuine love by VR developers who are looking to make use of the unique functions of the system.
This is the case with games like Eagle Flight, a title which has the freeing nature of virtual reality immersion at its core as players soar over the world around them, experiencing something they’ve never seen before.
Games designed specifically for VR will focus on the immersive nature of the technology, and the fact that, by putting on a visor, you’re sinking into another world. These games will create unique perspectives and viewpoints, or will take advantage of the fact that you’re finding yourself in a different body. The best VR games will make use of the possibilities offered for roleplaying, character interactions, and world exploration.
To find these games, you’ll want to look closely at a title’s trailer. What is the company drawing attention to—are they showing off the fantastic visuals of a game, presenting a new gameplay mechanic that focuses on VR immersion or motion controls, or exploring the game’s characters and their level of interaction? It’s the quality of these key signs that will show you the focus of a game and how well it does at making use of the unique virtual reality experience.
A Solid Experience Overall
If someone tells you that a new title is a great VR game, that’s nice to hear.
If, however, they tell you that something is a great game, period, that’s all the better.
As a new technology, virtual reality is going to see the creation of plenty of VR games which are simply that: games which use VR to create a diverting, gimmick-filled gameplay experience. For truly great games, though, this isn’t enough—you need to find the virtual reality games that are fantastic games in their own right, and aren’t just shallow experiences which depend on VR for a selling point.
This is perhaps best explained by looking at early polygonal games. In the excitement of a new, 3D world that could be created on PlayStation hardware, plenty of game developers made games to capitalize on the new viewpoint.
There’s a reason, though, why people still rave about Crash Bandicoot, while nobody really remembers platformers like Croc: Legend of the Gobbos. Naughty Dog’s Crash game wasn’t just a solid 3D game, it was a decent platformer all around, and successfully brought across the traditions of earlier games to a new viewpoint. Croc, on the other hand, while a perfectly good 3D platformer, simply wasn’t as much fun as some 2D games that came before.
If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: don’t invest your time in games that have no notable features beyond being VR compatible. You should be looking for games that have significant depth to them in terms of story and gameplay—games that have been built around having fun in VR, rather than simply existing to demo the capabilities of the technology.
This is the approach that’s been taken with Loading Human. The game has been created with the idea in mind of bringing classic adventure gaming to virtual reality. At its core is an engaging story that’s rife with diverse characters, while the game itself is built around the new and exciting capabilities of VR and how that enhances the traditional adventure game experience.
Quality Speaks for Itself
As you look for games that make specific use of the unique functions of VR, and which have solid, fulfilling gameplay experiences at their core, you’ll be able to spot the best titles because the gems will naturally rise to the top of the pack. Good games win fans, and these fans will be eager to tell you all about the amazing experience they’ve had with a particular title.
Keep your ear to the ground, watch out for the kinds of VR games that appeal to you, and you’ll spot the ones that are most worth your while.
To try out a solid gameplay experience that’s designed specifically around VR, preorder Loading Human, releasing on PlayStation VR October 13th, today.