Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Ok, so I realise that this is a bit of a cheat in a top 10 list games of 2016 however, I can honestly say that nothing I have played this year has blown me away more than experiencing PSVR.
People who follow me on The Same Coin or 60 Minutes With will know that I have been massively sceptical about virtual reality for some time. Until I got my hands on it I couldn’t see the benefit of having a headset strapped to your face where you are essentially cut off from the real world around you. I couldn’t understand how it would enhance gaming and to be honest, I was perfectly happy playing games traditionally using a controller.
PSVR reminds me of a line from The Matrix which goes, “unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” This is exactly how I feel about virtual reality. I’ve tried my best to explain to people the immersion you feel and I could probably write thousands of words explaining just how incredible it is but, it wouldn’t do it any justice. The best way I can explain PSVR is that your brain forgets about “the real world” and you are totally immersed in whichever world you want to be.
Many of my most amazing VR gaming moments have been captured in games like PlayStation VR Worlds, where I was sat in a van with a cockney gangster, (obviously!) being chased by men on motorcycles straight out of a John Woo action film. At one point in the game I turned my head and looked out of the passenger window to see my pursuers. Incredibly I even opened the passenger door so I could fire behind me with my machine pistol, spraying bullets at my would be murderers. It was like a eureka moment where my brain said not only is this amazingly cool but, it felt like I properly understood the benefits of VR gaming as you simply cannot get this feeling whilst playing games anywhere else!
Another example of this is the free Call of Duty: Jackal Assault mission. You take off from your space carrier and quickly engage in a dogfight against multiple enemies. The ability to look around at enemy ships whilst in your cockpit was absolutely exhilarating.
Putting on the famous cowl in Batman: Arkham VR and then staring at myself in the game as I’m wearing the batsuit was another, “oh my god, this is so cool moment!” It sounds really corny but I felt like I was Batman, or as close to being Batman as a geeky 40-year-old man can be!
Since I was a little boy I’ve always dreamt about flying an X-Wing and now thanks to the Star Wars: Battlefront VR I’m happy to say that I have experienced something I have thought about for over 30 years. Staring down at my virtual body which moved with my head, looking behind me at an R2 unit as a huge Star Destroyer appeared from hyperspace and dozens of TIE Fighters swarmed towards me was absolutely mind blowing!
PSVR has given me a whole new appreciation for horror games especially after I tried Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. It’s a fun game that has you riding an insane roller coaster whilst shooting monsters and other supernatural creatures. It is similar in tone to the House of the Dead games and whilst it mostly relies on jump scares, the potential for horror games in VR is quite literally terrifying. The demo for Resident Evil 7 may have only lasted for 5 minutes but, what I played made my skin crawl.
Other games that have tickled my virtual reality fancy have been the excellent puzzle game Tumble VR, the fantastic tank combat simulator Battlezone, and the mind bending Thumper and Rez Infinite.
Don’t get me wrong, PSVR isn’t perfect. To get the full experience you need the headset itself, a PS4, camera and 2 move controllers, so your total expenditure could be around £700. Plus, the games range from various experiences which can last anything from 5 to 15 minutes and the pricing is kind of all over the place because it’s new technology. The issue with motion sickness will also put off a lot of people off. There is also the worry in the back of my mind that now VR is actually here, support will begin to dry up and it will soon be forgotten like Kinect or motion controls.
Still, in the meantime there is no denying that VR is an incredible experience that has completely changed my opinion from being totally against it, to being its biggest fan. I am hugely impressed with PSVR and can see it not necessarily as a replacement for traditional gaming but, almost as an entirely new platform. PSVR has helped to reinvigorate my love for gaming and made me feel really excited for the future of the hobby that I love.