Everywhere you looked at PAX West this year was a new and exciting VR game on display. Games for PSVR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift were all being demo'd at the show, and it's a great opportunity for players who haven't had much exposure to VR to try it out and see the latest and greatest. We spent a full day jumping from booth to booth try play all the new virtual reality games, and have collected a list of our favorites.
These are by no means all of the new VR games coming out, and there were a couple we missed that we really would have liked to try (sorry Acorn: Attack of the Squirrels!). Much of what we DID play, though, really impressed us. VR still has limitations, cords and camera prevent a full range of motion, and camera movement often requires unintuitive camera controls, but the developers that are working within those limitations are discovering how to create unique experiences that only VR can offer.
In our longer story about Iron Man VR, we explained the flight mechanics that make the game a joy to play. Using both hands to fly and attack simultaneously creates a balancing act of momentum and trajectory that is both challenging and very rewarding once you get the hang of it. Within minutes I was able to shoot up into the sky, take out a couple targets with energy pulses from my palms, and then dive back down, banking off a wall and zoom off in the other direction.
Flying as Iron Man is thrilling in VR, and, though the scope and length of the game has not been revealed, even the short demo that only requires you to shoot drones and race through check marks is well worth the price of admission. In our other story I called Iron Man VR the Link's Crossbow Training of PSVR, and after playing tons of virtual reality at PAX, I think that still holds true.
Stormlands Takes VR Into AAA
A full-fledged, multi-player, AAA game is the VR dream right now, and though there have been some attempts, none have really turned out to be the killer app that sells VR to the mainstream audience. Stormlands by Insomniac just might be the game that breaks through. With a pedigree of Spider-Man, Ratchet and Clank, and Resistance behind them, there is more than enough proof that Insomniac know how to make fantastic games. Stormlands has every indication of being their next great IP.
Stormlands is a first person with tons of freedom to express yourself in battle. There are two slots for guns on your hip, one on your back, and an additional gun can be held. Each gun can be held with either one or two hands for added control. Unholstering and swapping guns feels awesome in the heat of battle as you blast away mods of robot enemies. You also have to chest slots for grenades and healing items, which are just as fun to pop open and lob at your victims.
The gunplay feels great, but the mobility feels amazing. Moving your arms into different positions allows you to climb, glide, launch, dive, and cloud surf. This takes the most getting used to, and is made more difficult by the unnatural way the game jerks the camera left and right, but once you get used to it, battling in Stormlands is a spectacular experience.
The Best VR At PAX West: Until You Fall
Until You Fall, an upcoming sword-fighting rogue-lite for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, is not only the best looking VR game at PAX this year, it was also the most fun to play. The game has a lot of similarities to Infinity Blade, but allows free motion around the battlefield, dramatically increasing the immersion, and danger, of the game.
Until You Fall makes use of mesmerizing particle effects and a flashy neon color palette that is a delight to look at. The combat is easy to pick up and hard to master: using two weapons to block and counter attack, a dash to dodge and stun enemies, and spacial awareness to maintain the upper hand, Until You Fall really puts you in the middle of battle and engages your reflexes in instincts in a way no other VR can.
As a rogue-lite, Until You Fall offers progression that resets after each death, making each run a unique experience as you experiment with builds and buffs. There are weapons to unlocks and upgrade between runs as well, which is just enough progress to keep players coming back for more. Shooting and flying can work in VR, but for my money, sword fighting is the best way to engage with virtual reality right now, and Until You Fall is doing it the best. It's in early access right now on Steam, so if you have VR, get your hands on this game immediately.