2017 is the year that we’ll see big name developers get in on the VR act, bringing with them big name titles along with the budgets and expertise that comes with that. Any lingering thoughts of the Nintendo’s ill-fated Virtual Boy be banished, and this is the year you get to play Fallout 4 in VR.
The secrets of VR interactivity and gameplay possibilities have barely been explored. And this is where the dreamers and experimenters within the indie industry working on headsets such as the Razer OSVR (OS there stands for Open Source) will come in. Smaller developers with even smaller budgets will be where to look for games that aren’t just console ports of FPSs, and so on.
2017 is also when VR is going to become coupled with new controllers such as the Oculus Touch devices. Comprised of two rings, one on each hand, buttons are pressed at logical places along the ring allowing you to pull a trigger or make a thumbs up. So with all that to come, let’s crack on with the titles we’re most looking forward to.
- Check out the best VR games out now
Oculus Rift & Touch
From the looks of early footage on YouTube, Arktika is extremely polished with a smooth and fast frame-rate displaying oodles of detail. The lighting and colour scheme is very similar to Metro, another game developed by its creator 4A Games.
Arkika's gameplay appears to be more action-orientated though and tones down the survival horror elements. It’s also compatible with the Oculus Touch meaning you’ll get haptic feedback from each shot and will be able to reload with simple hand gestures.
2. Robo Recall
Oculus Rift & Touch
It’s the classic tale of domestic-robots-go-crazy in this deceptively simple, tongue-in-cheek shooter. Epic Games, perhaps most famous for Gears Of War, are another of the big developers jumping wholeheartedly on the VR bandwagon.
It’s their first VR title to have a proper storyline, as previously they’ve just dabbled in tech demos such as Showdown. So, let’s set the scene: you’re a repairman who’s been speedily upgraded to what’s known as a Recaller. Why, you ask? Well, a bunch of supposedly safe house robots are running rampage and you’re the only one who can dispatch them. From the looks of early footage, there’s a comic book edge to this, which contrasts to the darker overtones of Gears of War. Of course it’ll still have all the hallmarks of that series – such as instant playability and loads of fun weapons. And did we mention that it’s going to be free? Sold, so to speak!
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and OSVR
This crowd-sourced game has been incredibly close to release but also teetering over the edge of development hell. According to the game's website, it should have been out in October, but thankfully it’s been updated on Steam to March 2017.
Harking back to mythical and epic adventures such as The Last Guardian, Myst and even Fable, you'll spend a lot of time looking up at huge sparkling monoliths and walking through coloured dust generated by ancient trees.
It’s a narrated game where you’ll need to solve puzzles to uncover a forgotten past. Not a mind blowingly original plot, but the vastness and ambition of the world as well as the attractive design will lure in adventure fans in 2017.
4. Fallout 4
Bethesda are bringing Fallout 4 to a small stereoscopic, face-mounted screen near you. But not for a little while, however, as they’re currently being delayed by their other upcoming behemoth, Elder Scrolls 6. The Fallout universe is gargantuan, and not really suited to traversing in VR, so movement across large areas is done by teleportation. It’s something that Bethesda says reduces nausea.
So far the demo received lukewarm reviews back in the summer, but it was such an early tech demo and so much was expected that we’re willing to wait it out to see what the next update has in store. From what we’ve seen, they’ve already implemented is the ability to open the Pip Boy with a flick of the wrist, which is awesome.
But we’d love to be able to play fetch with Dogmeat and reload using a gesture or button tap. Nothing’s been heard from Bethesda concerning F4 since that demo except for the shifting of the release date. It’s obvious that they’re holding off to make sure the release is the best they can make it.
5. Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR
Who hasn’t wanted to sit in the Captain’s seat and shout “Red Alert!”? Every Trekkie’s dream will come true when Star Trek: Bridge Crew is released. And Ubisoft are bringing this perfect-for-VR concept to you in March.
Four players each take the places of Captain, Helm, Tactical and Engineering. It’s all about team-work, as all four have designated jobs and tasks that only they can provide. And it’s best if you actually speak to your fellow team mates, out loud. Then there’s the all-important in-game dashboard operation to raise shields, fire weapons and fix the ship.
It’s set in the time of the current JJ Abrams movie reboot, and puts players in control of the USS Aergis. The mission is to explore an area known as The Trench in the hope of finding a new homeworld for refugee Vulcans. This was due out in November but has since been delayed until March citing that they need to make the VR experience “compelling and engaging”. Fascinating.
6. ARK Park
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR
ARK Park is an ambitious educational puzzler starring everybody’s favourite extinct subset of Reptilia, the dinosaurs. Starting off in a virtual hub you’ll be able to pick a dino-based adventure which you’ll embark on foot, vehicle or even on the back of one of the prehistoric creatures. In order to actually see some dinosaurs, there are a number of puzzles to solve.
For instance, some of the residents are more reclusive than others, requiring ingenuity to lure them out of their safe spaces. And dinosaurs aren’t the only extinct species here – we spotted a very affectionate Dodo in the demo. Production values on this look sky-high and yes, there’s just the tiniest hint of Spielberg's classic Jurassic Park in the mix.
Currently available as a free demo, this is a two player VR game for HTC Vive. The twist comes that one person plays on a PC with a controller or mouse and keyboard while the other uses a VR headset. It’s a virtual game of cat and mouse. The one in VR controls a floating mask with a single eye, much like The Eye Of Sauron, that is constantly on the search for the PC player on the ground. In turn, the PC player must run to the top of the tower to defeat them. The Eye has a laser that can be fired, albeit slowly, while the player on the ground has no weapon – just their virtual legs. It’s an innovative idea, with clever level design and could be one one of the breakout indie titles of 2017.
Samsung Gear VR
Harmonix, the reputable team behind Guitar Hero and Rock Band are well on their way to creating a new VR karaoke title. It’s set in a cell-shaded, friendly robot world, where square-headed cybords judge your pitch and singing skills.
Currently it’s looking to support up to four simultaneous players with online capabilities to let you sing with friends across the world. Although judging by other VR experiences, it might be more fun for the onlookers watching than the players of the game. Just remember to get some earplugs.
9. Guardian Arena
HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and OSVR
Made by Australian developers Purple Squid Games, this offers a new take on VR shooters. Instead of first person perspective, this uses a floating camera point of view. They describe it as if you’re playing Quake III Arena from a god-like perspective with players on a miniature arena about the size of a table. Their aim is for fast gameplay without the motion sickness associated with speed and movement in VR. It will be playable in all modes and setups: standing, seated, room scale, motion controllers or gamepad.
We’re thinking that this innovative approach could pave the way for games like Sim City to be made in VR. Imagine using your hands to place buildings, or mould the ground with your fingers. Guardian Arena may be the first tentative step for developers to think of VR in a new way, rather than using the same control and view-mode tropes of non-VR games.
HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR
Survival Horror might well be the perfect video game genre for VR. The immersive nature of the platform adds to the inescapable feeling of sheer terror and impending doom. Syren adds a claustrophobic Das Boot element to the mix as it’s set in an underwater research facility with a futuristic design that reminds us of The Abyss and Dead Space.
In storyline it’s similar to the aforementioned Jurassic Park; scientists have been recreating Syrens, a lost civilisation of mermaids, but of course it all goes horribly wrong. Developers Hammerhead are hoping to create a mixture of survival horror, stealth with a few escape room puzzles thrown in. It should be noted that this is their first game as they’ve previously only really made VR films, but from the looks of the trailer this could be the start of a brilliant new VR game development team.