The HTC Vive will soon be approaching the second anniversary of its consumer launch, and as such there’s been a practically literal flood of software made available for the head-mounted display (HMD) over the past 12 months. Sifting through Steam and Viveport to find the best videogames available can be a tiresome task, and so VRFocus has compiled a list of the movers-and-shakers from 2017.
The below selection of videogames, in no particular order, represents the best that the HTC Vive has to offer. From AAA releases to indie titles that managed to latch onto a unique facet of virtual reality (VR), offer a huge and diverse playscape or a compelling, immersive experience, the HTC Vive’s portfolio of videogames has never looked better.
Fallout 4 VR – Bethesda Game Studios
While many have found the control systems and graphical quality of Fallout 4 VR questionable, there’s no denying that Bethesda Game Studios has delivered one of the most enduringly compelling virtual worlds. The wealth of exploration and interaction opportunities offered in Fallout 4 VR is second-to-none, including Bethesda Game Studios’ own The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR, which launched on PlayStation VR in November 2017.
L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files – Rockstar Games
The most recently released title in this selection – and the last AAA VR release of 2017 – L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files is the antithesis of Fallout 4 VR. While it’s true that L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files features a free-roaming open world, the substance in the videogame isn’t about your interaction therein, but rather with the characters you meet along the way. Not quite to the point of developing relationships, but arguably one of the greatest role-playing experiences as the player is cast as a detective and must interrogate both witnesses and suspects to solve each of the included seven cases.
DOOM VFR – Bethesda Game Studios
Bethesda Game Studios’ other big VR title for HTC Vive, DOOM VFR proposes the exact opposite first-person shooter (FPS) gameplay formula to Fallout 4 VR. While Fallout 4 VR is based entirely around its open world setting, DOOM VFR presents tight-knit corridors and a linear path to its gunplay. In accordance with that tighter construct however, DOOM VFR is arguably the best FPS yet seen in VR, holding strong against Epic Games’ Robo Recall.
Manifest 99 – Flight School Studio
A surprisingly successful experience that blurs the line between videogame and interactive film, the heavily stylistic approach to Manifest 99’s visual design is as intriguing as the story it tells. The player interacts with the world through variable teleportation options, each offering a unique perspective of the events unfolding. This results in an adventure that can be experienced at your own pace; Manifest 99 isn’t a film that continues when you look away, it’s a story in which you are a key character.
Bloody Zombies – Paw Print Games
Bloody Zombies broke out of the mould by forcing old school videogame mechanics headfirst into a brand new medium. A side-scrolling beat-‘em-up akin to Final Fight or Streets of Rage, Bloody Zombies offers four-player co-operative gameplay regardless of how many players own a VR HMD. The added advantage of playing a 2D videogame in VR is depth – both in terms of gameplay and into the world – as using a HMD allows players to cast their view around the landscape, finding additional paths or hidden secrets not visible on a 2D monitor.
Blasters of the Universe – Secret Location
Wave shooters in VR are two-a-penny, so what makes Blasters of the Universe any different? Well, it has a storyline – an actual, genuine story with plot twists – behind the frantic shooting action. It also features a huge variety of customisable weaponry, noted as one of the videogame’s best features in VRFocus’ review of Blasters of the Universe, which is based on an inventory built from unlockable components. Thus, there’s also a progression system accompanying that storyline. Blasters of the Universe isn’t just a highscore chase; it’s a videogame with genuine depth.
REZ Infinite – Enhance Games
REZ Infinite is simply the way REZ was always meant to be played. Enhance Games looked back at the much loved Dreamcast classic and decided that modern technology could bring something new to the experience; and they weren’t wrong. REZ Infinite redefines the rhythm-action genre and even – according to designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi – holds a key to what could be coming next from Enhance Games.
Cosmic Trip – Funktronic Labs
Funktronic Labs has taken the real-time strategy (RTS) genre and turned it on its head. Conducting all of the action from a first-person perspective, Cosmic Trip makes the player feel like less of a god and more a commander on the battlefield lining-up with the grunts and cannons. According to the RTS mainstays, players must balance the gathering of resources with the development of new aggression properties, and Cosmic Trip places you at the centre of all your survey.
Battlezone – Rebellion Studios
Originally a PlayStation VR exclusive, Battlezone came to HTC Vive in good form. Arguably still one of the best action videogames in VR, UK-based Rebellion Studios positioned a steep learning curve next to an open campaign progression system, customisable inventory and four-player co-operative gameplay. Piloting a neon tank has never been more fun, and rarely has modern VR.
Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality – Owlchemy Labs
Rick and Morty is an irreverent commentary on many of the ills of modern society and alternative culture. Adapting this to a videogame could’ve proven a difficult task – VR or otherwise – as there’s a depth in the humour that could be irreparably lost in trying to make a linear, passive experience more open to player interpretation. So who better to adapt the franchise than Owlchemy Labs, a studio which had already proven its ability to achieve the exact same goals with the hugely popular Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives? Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality is a videogame that’s hard to define by genre, and instead argues to be defined by experience; and in that Owlchemy Labs has crafted a VR compelling slice of VR.