The PlayStation VR is no longer the new kid on the block, as it's been around for almost a year and a half and has had a lot of decent releases, ranging from Moss to Skyrim VR and the incredible shooter Farpoint. There's plenty coming in the future though, and that's why Sony recently hosted a showcase of no less than 12 titles for their VR headset in London, where we got to play all of them. In no particular order, here are the games we sampled:
Firewall Zero Hour
Despite having the most generic name imaginable, Firewall Zero Hour had one of the longest dedicated preview slots, and that's because we played a 4v4 match including fellow journalists and devs (hence it has its own dedicated preview). Imagine Rainbow Six: Siege in VR, but stripped down to the bare essentials - attacking a location while one team defends it, and where you get control of the cameras when you die. That's the basic premise.
The setup worked, and as long as you have a working headset and microphone you can really make use of the tactical elements, making callouts if you see enemies on the camera, for example. Teamwork is key here, unlike the action fantasies we've seen in other shooters where you can take on the world alone. We found the Aim Controller's tracking a little off though, which meant that firefights weren't all that satisfying in the end, as we struggled to line up the red dot sight with where we thought it should be.
Blood & Truth
Remember The London Heist on the PlayStation VR Worlds collection? Well, fans wanted more, and that's what we're getting in Blood & Truth, a cockney action shooter with plenty of cool features like pistol spinning, catching clips in the chamber of your gun, and epic slow-motion sequences for the action hero feeling that London Studio wants you to feel so much. It's true, we came out of it feeling like a badass, satisfied with the hordes of enemies that lay dead in our wake, but there are a few things to note.
Neither movement or rotation are free in this game, unlike many other shooters. Instead, you move between fixed points in the world akin to something like Time Crisis (as we explained in our full preview), but don't panic, because we really think it works. Each point you move to is chosen by the devs because it works for the cover or for the best experience, so it's a much tighter shooter than some others as a result. Couple this with cockneys and satisfying shooting, and it's looking good for Blood & Truth.
It seems VR games love alien planets, and we'll be dropped on another one in Eden Tomorrow. After your pod crashlands on a hostile planet, we narrowly escape the jaws of a monster to make it out, at which point our assistant robot Newton introduces itself and helps us to escape. We switch between both ourselves and Newton in the game though, as we walk around in first-person until we get to a shielded safe zone, and by tapping triangle you can use Newton to fly around, explore, and use shockwaves to knock things out of the environment.
Our goal was to find a way off of the planet, and find some medical attention too, and using our scanning tool we could find environmental objects to interact with and help facilitate our escape. During our brief hands-on though we also found some mysterious cave paintings which, coupled with an aggressive assistant robot, indicated something very sinister was going on with said robots. There's more than just escape to worry about, it appears, and we're intrigued as to where the story will go. On the gameplay side of things though, everything worked very smoothly, so Eden Tomorrow may be one to watch out for.
WipEout Omega Collection VR
Okay, so this isn't a preview as such, since the VR update for the WipEout Omega Collection has already been released, meaning the entire game is playable in PSVR now, but it's worth talking about for those who have yet to dive in. We tried two normal races as well as a round of Zone, and there are plenty of options available for you, including whether you rotate with your vehicle (meaning barrel rolls are really stomach-churning) and how much you want your field of view restricted in terms of peripherals, which helps certain people avoid motion sickness.
We have to say that the options we had enabled, with field of view restricted somewhat, worked incredibly well, and to our surprise we didn't get motion sick even once, even in Zone when the colours were changing and we were whizzing along the pulsating track. It seems incredibly polished, amazingly optimised, has tons of content (all of it in-game already, to repeat), and on top of that it's the most immersive way to play WipEout yet. You can even play in VR online against non-VR players, so you're always part of the fun.
MOBA isn't the first genre that springs to mind when you're talking about VR, but Dark Eclipse is bringing that genre (loosely) to the platform. Here it's all about taking a 'god' like perspective, moving and instructing units with your virtual hands, i.e. the Move Controllers. Here you can select your heroes, build towers, attack, defend, gather resources, and more, all while the other player on the other side of the board does the same.
While a lot of it was straightforward, like holding the Move button to drag the board around to navigate, and clicking on things by using the trigger, the screen often felt quite busy. When moving a character onto a space to build a tower, for example, you'd have to click on an orb behind their head to build the tower, which was a bit frustrating. This looks like something MOBA fans may enjoy, but we think the layout and presentation needs a bit of work before it can draw in the hardcore genre fans.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality
Another game that's not strictly new, but Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is making the move from PC to PSVR on April 10, and we got the chance to try it out. As you've seen from the previous versions of the game, this is all about being a clone while Rick and Morty give you various humorous tasks to do, made all the more difficult by the medium itself.
We have to say that the tracking got a little frustrating at times in this preview session, as bending down to pick stuff up was a real chore when the PS Camera lost track of the Move Controllers, making things a lot more tiresome than they were hilarious. The overall aesthetic and comedy has made the move unchanged though, so if you're careful with the Move Controllers and make sure you've got plenty of space, this should be a laugh for Rick and Morty fans.
Star Child caught our eye when it was first announced, which is why it was a little disappointing that our hands-on time was so short (under five minutes). What we did see was this: a giant spaceship moving underground on a landing platform before our character disembarked and walked through a series of hallways, ending up in a giant hall with a massive robot who defends her from a hostile monster.
That's about all we know, although we did get to do some light puzzles aside from just jumping and walking. These involved taking control of a shiny orb that directed glowing wires to their sockets, before landing themselves in a bay to open doors and allow progression. As mentioned, there wasn't really much else to see, although like fellow VR platformer Moss you can examine the scenery around you as you go, and it all looks like a lovely mixture of neon glows and low-level lighting.
The Persistence is an oddly-titled VR horror shooter where you have died on a spaceship and are reanimated by your AI companion in a new form, having to explore the spaceship and its mutated horrors. Oh, and if you die again, you'll keep respawning in this new form, and trust us when we say you'll die quite a bit since your new body is apparently quite squishy and can't take any hits.
This is your standard VR FPS affair in that you move and rotate around, sneaking preferably, and taking down enemies you come across, foraging for supplies as you do so. We even found a pistol during our brief introduction, but this ran out of bullets real quick, meaning that once we faced a big boss we were left trying to melee attack him... and died. It's a nice little survival game that really places the emphasis on taking your time to make sure you conserve health and ammunition, and the controls are easy to use, meaning there's less time fumbling and more time staying alive.
While some VR games already released have been about encouraging the creation of music, TrackLab VR is doing something a little different. Yes, you're still producing music using a selection of beats and samples, but here you place them on a grid like orbs, and by shooting pulses through them and using reflectors and loops, you create the beat using a kind of puzzle, rather than simply using a production system like a professional would.
As such this is an incredibly accessible way to make music that not only introduces newcomers to the whole production process, but even allows you to create really great results once you get good. With all the musical notes at your disposal you can make music like the Game of Thrones theme tune, for example, and it's a really promising way to get people on board with not just production but music in general, all done in a fun and welcoming way.
Salary Man Escape
We've seen that satire on the everyday working man before, like Stardew Valley's opening when you're sitting at a desk, and Salary Man Escape is again all about the need to escape the working environment, except here it's all about guiding your Salary Man to the exit by moving red blocks, much like Lemmings where you had to guide your creatures to the exit while they simply walked where they needed to go.
Of course this varies in terms of the challenge, but the premise is still simple: move the red blocks, get to the exit. There's a great comic tone running through the whole thing though, as the it mocks the various aspects of office life, from motivational tools to buzzwords, and there's even a stellar soundtrack too, which we'll let you experience for yourself in the trailer down below. It's looking good for Salary Man Escape, and it should be a head-scratching puzzler.
Imagine a tower defence game where instead of towers you place animals all around, each one with different abilities, that shoot at varying streams of alien spaceships that are appearing to threaten the earth. That's pretty much the premise for Animal Force, with ISVR's game all about arranging your animals, letting them attack enemies, and adapting to where new opponents appear (which can sometimes be all around you).
With the streams of aliens moving incredibly quickly, Animal Force gets real hectic real fast, and it's all about making sure you know where all the enemies are coming from - which might even be from behind you - before grabbing animals to move them to where they need to be. There are even fun co-op minigames that you can play with people outside of VR, like guarding statues from three thieves, which is great fun in itself.
Smash Hit Plunder
Possibly our biggest highlight of the day was Triangular Pixels' Smash Hit Plunder, which puts you in a pixel-art world of RPGs long gone and tasks you with going through the level in first-person to find all the coins you can. Of course, you can smash stuff to do this, but there's a ton of other interactions here we won't spoil, so it rewards the inquisitive and encourages a constant chasing of the elusive high score in each level, which is much easier said than done.
Like with Animal Force, another player can join in who's not wearing a VR headset and they can help this treasure quest, but it's ultimately up to you in the headset to hoover up all the coins, throw items at the animals, smash pots, and snoop about for the gold. It's addictive, it looks beautiful (it's surprising that the pixel-art style hasn't been used in VR more) and ultimately it feels like you've been dropped into an arcade game... except you're living it.