After much sweaty-palmed excitement, Sony's Playstation VR has finally arrived and with it a flood of nascent virtual reality titles, all vying for your attention. While you'll want to showcase your new hardware with as many games as you can, budgets are finite and some are far more worthy of your time — and cash — than others. To help with this most first-world of problems, we strapped on our goggles and played the hell out of the launch line-up so you can make your choices with confidence. Not got a PSVR yet? Read our verdict on the hardware here.
Batman: Arkham VR
Instead of swooping through the night sky, the Arkham VR team has chosen to focus more on Batman’s sleuthing skills. You move through a number of scenes, searching for clues and reconstructing crimes, which you’re then able to wind back and forth in real time. You may have watched a dozen Batman films and read a thousand comics, but yo've never visited Gotham before. Not like this. While this is one of PSVR's stand-out launch titles, it's also one of the shortest, ending abruptly just as it's warming up. If you've ever fantasised about being the Dark Knight, though, this is as close as you'll get.
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Returning to the vector tanks of Atari’s 1980 classic, you tear around a series of neon wastelands in the humming cockpit of your tank, taking on a variety of missions, from shoot-and-kill to escorts to base capturing. The vehicle, which can be upgraded after each successful outing, is intuitive to control, and the sense of scale is convincing. Sure, the gameplay is basic but it comes into its own when teaming up with others in squad-based combat.
100ft Robot Golf
Playing golf as a Megazord lookalike is more fun than you'd think — especially when you can smash down buildings to beat par. Although this is essentially crazy golf, or a mecha twist on Wii Sports' golf, it's a colourful, fun, and often cathartic alternative to actually walking 18 holes.
DriveClub on PS4 had trouble getting out of the gate but evolved into a solid racing game. This VR exclusive version continues that positive trajectory, making a compelling case for multiplayer VR gaming while also proving drop-dead gorgeous — if not quite up to the non-VR standard. It's incredibly immersive too, and with 80 cars, an assortment of new and returning tracks to zoom around, and a single player career mode, it's a petrolhead's dream.
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A multiplayer dogfighter that boasts cross-platform support with the PC version, there's no denying EVE: Valkyrie is ambitious. It's also tons of fun, offering a speedier, more engaging entry point to the fascinating but slow universe of EVE Online — at least once you've passed the drawn-out intro missions. With gorgeous visuals and an intuitive head-look system to target enemies, this redefines the space-shooter genre and, if we're honest, is the kind of game VR was invented for.
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If you're not into football, the national obsession with the sport can feel inescapable. This ratchets that up, placing you in the absolutely-not-a-prison Football Improvement Centre, where you're strongly encouraged to improve at increasingly sadistic header challenges. A nice use of the PS VR's spatial tracking, but rather repetitive, despite the occasional explosive distraction.
Here They Lie
A psychological horror, Here They Lie is best compared to Silent Hill — only you're personally trapped in this monochrome hell. Lost in a decrepit, blighted world and hunted by rarely-glimpsed monsters, this PlayStation-exclusive is genuinely chilling, while exploring themes of existentialism and psychosis in its surprisingly complex story.
Or: a thrilling endorsement for Universal Basic Income. In a future where robots and AI have automated all labour, meatbag humans relive the glory days of actual work through VR. Creative liberties with the mundanity of everyday jobs have been taken though, giving an air of the bizarre to the likes of office paperwork. There's only so much you can do to make filing exciting, though.
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Already available on other VR platforms, this is an incredibly fun approach to multiplayer VR that doesn't require everyone to splash out on a headset. The person in a headset must describe the workings of a ticking bomb to friends who have the defusal instructions, making this not just a bridge between VR and console but also tabletop games. One of the best party games available, though by design is useless for single players.
PlayStation Worlds VR
Sony's own taster package, this collection gives you five games — Getaway-style shooter The London Heist, downhill speed thrill VR Luge, Ocean Descent, Danger Ball, and Scavenger's Odyssey — to showcase the potential and versatility of VR gaming. The first two are the meatiest, and the package as a whole explores all of PSVR's features, but this isn't going to be something you return to often.
Tetsuya Mizuguchi's experiment in synaesthesia has been re-released numerous times since the 2001 Dreamcast original — and it keeps getting better. Although VR isn't required, literally plugging into the virtual world of this psychedelic music shooter feels like the ultimate realisation of Rez. That it's in HD and adds a brand new level is the icing on the cake.
RIGS: Mechanized Combat League
A more serious take on both mecha and sports than 100ft Robot Golf, this multiplayer arena combat title aims to take e-sports to the next level. Piloting giant robots in team battles feels like an evolution of classic Virtual On, and with both online multiplayer and single player matches, plus 24 RIGS to unlock and play as, this sport of the future has plenty to offer.
Think of this as PlayStation VR's answer to Tetris. The gameplay is different — here, you're peering around 3D space, rapidly trying to re-orient odd-shaped blocks to pass through seemingly incompatible gaps in walls — but the simplicity, intuitiveness, and one-more-go compulsiveness makes a strong pitch for VR's gaming merits. Addictive in the best way.
The Playroom VR
Sony's VR equivalent of the PS4 launch software, this minigame collection delivers six new experiences with a social twist. The lovable Asobi robots return, shepherding players through competitive and co-op games that bridge VR and local multiplayer. It's fun, it's free, and it has a Platinum trophy — but, like VR Worlds, it's on the simple side.
A 3D puzzler challenging you to build impossible towers — or sometimes destroy them in destruction challenges — this puts your dexterity with the Move controllers to the ultimate test. Only being able to manipulate one block at a time, even if you have two Move wands, feels unnecessarily restrictive though, and while stacking bricks is more fun than it sounds, it wear very thin.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
Where the PS4's Until Dawn took on eighties slasher flick tropes, Rush of Blood taps a more modern phenomenon — the clown apocalypse. An on-rails shooter through an abandoned fairground (classic), you'll have to dodge attacks as much as shoot anything that moves. Oddly, not as immersive or engaging as its more cinematic sibling though, and while it supports the DualShock 4 controller, you'll need Move wands for the most responsive experience.