Rewind a few years to when the pre-release hype of VR was at its peak. Even the most stalwart of supporters wouldn't have dreamed that in 2017 virtual reality would dominate the halls of Gamescom. And yet this year it seems that behind every booth is somebody with both a headset and a grin securely strapped to their face..
I spent a couple of days at the games expo in Cologne and one thing is clear: developers have started to take their titles beyond gimmicks or novelty experiences and games are starting to have the depth required to stand on their own. These aren't launch demos bought to help justify that headset investment.
A new format is always going to have growing pains, everything takes a bit of time to find its feet, even now we are struggling to find the best way to implement movement in VR but in the age of remasters, remakes and rereleases, VR's path is clear.
The huge crowds found at Bethesda's Skyrim and Fallout 4 VR booths is indicative of what people want, a reinvented product they know from personal experience is worth their time. Even The Talos Principle, a much lesser known title, had people abuzz at the HTC Vive station.
These games are not without fault of course, but instead of creating VR experiences or singular levels that aren't much more than a proof of concept such as last year's Star Wars Battlefront, the developers are now focused on making the best game they possibly can, one that is enjoyable both outside and inside VR.
We've already got two recent examples of this, Drool's psychedelic rhythm game Thumper released in December to critical acclaim and Capcom's world renowned Resident Evil 7, the first triple A game fully playable in VR on launch. Both are stand out games in their own right.
So it was with this thought in mind that I battled my way through the crowds on the show floor to try and find the next 'Better in VR' games. My results were mixed but there is still plenty more to come this year, any one of them could be a golden egg.
Fallout 4 VR
The slower gun play in Bethesda's post apocalyptic epic Fallout 4 VR translates incredibly well to the HTC Vive and considering that immersing yourself in this hellish open world is one of the main draws, VR seems like a match made in heaven.
Bearing in mind the average length of a full playthrough this could be premature, but I feel safe to say Fallout 4 is better in VR.
Read this: The best HTC Vive games
The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle is a first person puzzle game that likes to ask the tough questions in life. It was overlooked by many for its price on launch, many didn't feel it was worth the asking price regardless of its positive reception.
I recall my time with it years ago and some of the more complex puzzles that stalled my progress for much longer than I care to admit. Hopefully The Talos Principle will find new life here in VR where I think it belongs.
Viking VR's Bullet Sorrow is a dual gun FPS available on Steam now. Purely combat focused, it has more in common with a light gun game such as Time Crisis than your usual shooter.
Hitting a moving target more than a few meters away required pin point accuracy and quick reflexes and landing consecutive kill shots in slow motion made me feel like I was starring in an old John Woo classic. Unfortunately, the game lives or dies on its akimbo combat. There could be enough content on offer to make it worth playing sans VR.
Project Cars 2
Project Cars 2, aiming to be the new number one racing simulator, is due for release very soon and like its predecessor it's also playable in VR.
While more for hardcore motor heads than anyone else, it's incredibly difficult and authentic driving plays brilliantly with a steering wheel and doubly more so with a headset. With the recent price drop, now could be the best time for any racers who were holding off on a VR purchase.
Racket NX is currently available on Steam early access, and was the game I probably had the most fun playing: so much so that the PR had to wrestle the controllers out of my hand. It's a full 360 degrees game of squash with a handy feature to call the ball to your racket, allowing you to do a pseudo serve if you can manipulate it well enough.
Racket NX is one of the more physically draining VR games and it relies entirely upon the system. This kind of game would be near impossible to release for the traditional platforms and not nearly as entertaining either.
Distance, a near epilepsy inducing racing game currently available on PC and on it's way to PlayStation, was originally developed without any VR features.
However after a bit of late night experimentation, the devs realised their game was a perfect fit. I enjoyed my brief time with it on PC and after playing Distance again in VR, I feel very happy to give this a Better in VR award.
Read this: The best PlayStation VR games
Hyperbolic Magnetism, a two man team, is on schedule to release Beat Saber for Vive and Oculus Rift by the year's end. It's a rhythmic slasher that looks set to scratch that itch left by Thumper. The concept is simple, but the original score and quality has real promise. One caveat: I can't see anyone wanting to dive in without the necessary peripherals.
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