24 hot VR games to watch

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[Originally printed in games™ 186]

Have you purchased a virtual reality headset and are struggling to find anything to play, or are you perhaps on the fence, trying to justify siphoning so much money out of your bank account? The second wave of VR games is coming and games™ has picked 30 of the most exciting, innovative and striking for your consideration

24 hot VR games to watch

Fallout 4 VR

Format: HTC Vive • Dev: In-house • Date: Q4 2017

Bethesda rode a wave of hype right out of E3 2016 with the announcement of Fallout 4 VR, although the company quickly went quiet – and some started to believe the worst. Thankfully, that worry was entirely unwarranted. When it launches later in 2017 for HTC Vive, you will be receiving the full, uncompromised Fallout 4 experience. Bethesda is putting all of its weight behind this project, promising a unique experience that’ll change your perspective on both Fallout 4 and the potential of virtual reality. If last year’s hands-on impressions are anything to go by, it might indeed be time to invest in a Vive.

24 hot VR games to watch

Blunt Force

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive • Dev: G2A Games • Date: Q4 2017

G2A is more than likely best known for its key code reselling business, which is a subject of much debate in the industry. It has also made an impression in VR. The bold shift in focus for the company is bringing us Blunt Force, an ambitious game that will run across two simultaneous storylines; the first, a smaller exploration experience where the player must find hidden clues and information, while the second dives head-on into focused WWII shootouts. It’s an odd blend, but what we’ve seen of the static shooter – letting you teleport to fresh locations once the bodies hit the floor – has been impressive, polished and worth keeping both eyes on.

24 hot VR games to watch

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Format: PSVR • Dev: Project Aces • Date: Q3 2017

Ace Combat 7 is, in a word, stunning. Developer Project Aces has always done a stellar job of delivering high-octane thrills with the long-running series but it feels as if it is about to ascend to another level as it meets with PSVR. It’s these kinds of experiences virtual reality was built for; it lets you climb into the cockpit of a monstrously powerful jet and take to the skies, using a look-to-lock missile system – not dissimilar to the one found in EVE: Valkyrie – to take down enemies at breakneck speeds. This is another triple-A quality game for PSVR, helping the headset to emerge as the leading arena for dependable VR gaming.

24 hot VR games to watch

Arktika.1

Format: Oculus Rift •  Dev: 4A Games •  Date: Q3 2017

If 4A Games should be known for anything, it’s that it sure knows how to deliver one hell of a post-apocalyptic vision of the future; the developer behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light is back with Arktika.1 and it looks to be no exception. Built exclusively for Oculus Touch – running on the latest, impressive build of the studio’s in-house 4A engine – Arktika.1 is an immersive and high-octane FPS game making full use of the new technology. Expect intuitive weapon handling – that is truly only as accurate as your aim – and an array of gorgeous-looking environments to litter with bullet holes.

24 hot VR games to watch

Skyworld

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive • Dev: Vertigo Games • Date: TBC 2017

On the surface, it might be difficult to see the appeal of this turn-based strategy game. But there’s this moment where Skyworld immediately spins into focus, literally; there you are, staring at a blank tabletop before it flips, bringing a beautiful and fully animated cityscape into view. From there, it is yours to tinker with; to explore and renovate. You can lean into it for a closer look at your tiny kingdom, picking apart the fabric of it all, or you can take a (quite literal) step back for a better overview of your kingdom. Vertigo Games has had this in development for a number of years, and it’s great to finally see it edge closer to reality.

24 hot VR games to watch

Brass Tactics

Format: Oculus Rift • Dev: Hidden Path Entertainment • Date: October 2017

Brass Tactics might just be VR’s first legitimate real-time strategy game, coming from the studio responsible for Defense Grid: The Awakening and Age Of Empires II HD. Brass Tactics uses Oculus Touch controllers to give you full control and command of your miniature army, using intuitive motion gestures to let you swing around the tabletop to get a better view of the chaos unfolding beneath you.

24 hot VR games to watch

XING: The Land Beyond

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR • Dev: White Lotus Interactive • Date: tbc 2017

Poetic adventure game XING: The Land Beyond has finally been confirmed for VR and we couldn’t be happier. White Lotus’ latest invites you into a gorgeous, sprawling world littered with perplexing puzzles to solve – the perfect remedy to a long day in the office. Virtual reality doesn’t have to induce fits of fear; sometimes it can be the perfect place to chill.

24 hot VR games to watch

Pixel Ripped 1989

Format: Oculus Rift, PSVR • Dev: Pixel Ripped Inc. • Date: Q4 2017

Pixel Ripped is a pretty mad journey through the history of gaming, leaning on nostalgia and intuitive design to create a game within a game as venture across the ages to assist self-described gaming addict Nicola to complete her favourite platformer, Pixel Ripped. It makes inventive use of the VR space; at its most basic it’s a 2D game in a 3D world, but at its heart it is unlike anything else, keep this on your radar.

24 hot VR games to watch

GranBlue Fantasy

Format: PSVR • Dev: PlatinumGames/Cygames • Date: TBC 2018

PlatinumGames and CyGames’ RPG GranBlue Fantasy: Project Re:Link is making the leap to PSVR in 2018 following its hugely successful debut on mobile in 2014 – boasting over ten million downloads in Japan. JRPGs are something of a rarity in VR and we’ve already got high hopes for the console conversion; anything out of PlatinumGames is always worth keeping a close eye on, after all.

24 hot VR games to watch

From Other Suns

Format: Oculus Rift • Dev: Gunfire Games • Date: Q4 2017

Gunfire Games, the studio behind one of 2016’s best VR games, Chronos, returns with From Other Suns and it’s one of the most ambitious games we’ve seen on the Oculus Rift so far. It’s essentially a killer blend of FTL and Borderlands, blending the punishing space-sector touring and ship management of the former with hectic first-person combat of the latter. Plus, it supports three-player co-op.

24 hot VR games to watch

The Persistence

Format: PSVR • Dev: Firesprite • Date: Tbc 2017

The Persistence pits you in a perilous situation, awakening from cryosleep to find your ship’s crew has mutated into various monstrosities. From there it’s all about violence, survival and harvesting stem cells. Navigating the damaged ship is always a new challenge, as it procedurally generates every time that you die – and you will die, a lot – but it’s integral to locating new enemies; each one that you encounter can be harvested for stem cells that enhance your character after death. Calling all fans of the System Shock 2 aesthetic and the rogue-like frustration paradox, you’ll want to check out the horrors of The Persistence.

24 hot VR games to watch

Lone Echo

Format: Oculus Rift • Dev: Ready At Dawn • Date: TBC

Lone Echo is one of the defining experiences of the second wave of VR games coming in 2017. It’s proof that fantastic and unique experiences can be created once developers design VR around its inherent limitations, as opposed to deliriously trying to fit established 2D design templates into the new 3D moulds. Lone Echo has you drifting through zero gravity, attempting to run and maintain a space station locked into orbit around Saturn. It has fixed VR’s biggest issue, locomotion; by removing the need to walk, Ready At Dawn has unlocked the limitations of physical space, giving you an intuitive and immersive playground to tinker in.

24 hot VR games to watch

Ark Park

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR • Dev: Snail Games • Date: Q3 2017

The Jurassic Park experience is coming to PlayStation 4. The opportunity to visit a land before time, inhabited by all manner of strange beasts and creatures is something Spielberg fans have been waiting over two decades to see with their own two eyes. Now, thanks to PSVR, it’ll be happening. ARK Park is a companion piece to ARK: Survival Evolved, sacrificing survival in favour of something far more beneficial – education. ARK Park will let you explore the gorgeous world of ARK at your leisure (on foot or by vehicle), giving you the opportunity to interact with, and learn a little, about its mighty dinosaur inhabitants.

24 hot VR games to watch

Stifled

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR • Dev: Gattai Games • Date: Q2 2017

This is one of those unique experiences that truly benefits from virtual reality. Stifled is a minimalistic horror game with a striking presentation, thrusting you into blackened areas illuminated by sound. The more noise your microphone picks up, the more the world is exposed, though that comes with its own dangers; sound may reveal your surroundings, but it also attracts nightmares that lurk in the shadows. By robbing you of one of your senses, Stifled quickly makes you feel vulnerable, forcing you to balance a fear of the dark with the relative safety it offers. A brilliantly simple idea brought to life through excellent execution.

24 hot VR games to watch

Panoptic

Format: HTC Vive • Dev: Team Panoptes • Date: TBC 2017

Panoptic is the kind of asymmetrical multiplayer experience we were really hoping to see a lot more of in VR. The player wearing the headset is the Overseer while a local PC player on the same machine controls a rebel and must avoid the burning gaze of their opponent. It takes the best functionality of VR and melds it with something that can be shared, breaking the Vive out of its often lonely bubble. We’re very excited to play this one.

24 hot VR games to watch

Guardian Arena

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive • Dev: Purple Squid Games • Date: q2 2017

Guardian Arena brings a fresh perspective to a classic setup, literally. This online multiplayer shooter looks to subvert established arena model design conventions to better suit the VR environment. Guardian Arena plays from a third-person perspective, letting you scale the entire arena up or down to get a wider view of the action or a closer look at the carnage. It’s designed to channel the blistering momentum of Quake, while ensuring players aren’t beside themselves with motion sickness. It’s an interesting strategy/shooter hybrid that’s at least trying to bring legacy experiences to the new platform.

24 hot VR games to watch

Megaton Rainfall

Format: PSVR • Dev: Pentadimensional Games • Date: Q4 2017

Ever wondered what it would be like to actually be Superman? Megaton Rainfall casts you as an interdimensional superbeing fighting off a worldwide alien invasion – oh, and you have the power to level cities with the flick of a wrist and can accelerate from zero to Mach 10 in five seconds. It’s a little mad and wildly impressive, effortlessly empowering you in a way that we haven’t experienced before.

24 hot VR games to watch

The Mage’s Tale

Format: Oculus Rift • Dev: inXile Entertainment • Date: TBC

We wouldn’t expect inXile’s first steps into virtual reality to be anything less than spectacular, and we’re yet to be disappointed by what we’ve seen of The Mage’s Tale. The studio is bringing the world of The Bard’s Tale IV exclusively to Oculus Rift with Touch in 2017 in this beautiful, hand-crafted first-person dungeon crawler. The Mage’s Tale is really pushing what we thought was possible in VR, and it’s impossible to overstate just how satisfying it’ll be to conjure and throw an array of elemental abilities with intricate hand motions and the flick of the wrist.

24 hot VR games to watch

Dino Frontier

Format: PSVR • Dev: Uber Entertainment • Date: Q3 2017

Following the launch of Wayward Sky, we’ve been eagerly keeping a watchful eye over Uber Entertainment, and the studio isn’t disappointing with its follow-up, Dino Frontier. Pitched as a light simulation game, Dino Frontier has you building and managing a frontier settlement in a world where the Wild West and dinosaur-populated eras collide. As Big Mayor you’ll be responsible for overlooking the settlement in tabletop-scale VR, ensuring your semi-autonomous citizens not only thrive and survive, but also avoid being eaten by the wandering packs of wild dinosaurs that patrol the area. It has a gorgeous look and plenty of fun systems; Dino Frontier is a PSVR must.

24 hot VR games to watch

Lola And The Giant

Format: Google Daydream • Dev: Climax Studios • Date: Q2 2017

Lola And The Giant might just be the first truly must-play game for Daydream View, Google’s first virtual reality headset for Pixel. Inspired by parenthood and executed with grace, Lola And The Giant is an adventure game that casts you as both the titular Lola, a little girl with a mysterious power, and her accompanying Giant, who must work together to escape the wondrous, picturesque world they’ve become lost within. You’ll be switching between third- and first-person perspectives to solve an array of environmental puzzles, exploring beautiful locales and losing yourself in what might be the VR fairytale of the year.

24 hot VR games to watch

Augmented Empire

Format: Gear VR • Dev: Coatsink • Date: Q3 2017

Designed specifically for Samsung Gear VR, Augmented Empire is further proof that virtual reality on mobile is as viable as its more expensive console brethren. Coatsink’s upcoming story-driven RPG is promising the real-deal here, a fully-fledged RPG to lose yourself to, complete with a wide cast of characters to befriend and a complex politically-driven narrative to enjoy.

24 hot VR games to watch

Unknown Fate

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive • Dev: Marslit Games • Date: Q3 2017

Exploring strange worlds is one of the biggest draws of virtual reality, making us hugely excited about diving into Marslit Games’ third-person adventure title, Unknown Fate. Promising a twisted story through a surreal, ethereal world, mind-bending puzzles and mysteries to uncover, Unknown Fate is yet another game that’s making the leap into VR seem easier than ever.

24 hot VR games to watch

Private Eye

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PSVR • Dev: Slacker Games • Date: TBC

The point-and-click adventure genre is yet to make a splash on VR, but that’s what Slacker Games is hoping to change with its psychological thriller Private Eye. A murder mystery that sees you confined to a wheelchair, armed only with a pair of binoculars against your house’s rear window, its one of the most compelling and original games we’ve seen so far on Rift.

24 hot VR games to watch

Time Carnage

Format: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive • Dev: Wales Interactive • Date: 18 September 2017

Some survival shooters like to pit you against zombies. Some enjoy pitting you against hulking monsters. Others still enjoy throwing dinosaurs at you (a popular choice in VR as you’ve likely noticed). However Time Carnage isn’t greatly interested in making a choice between such challenging enemies. It’s going to throw the lot at you. This is a dark, gorgeous and crazy shooter.