The future is looking bright for PlayStation VR, PS4’s upcoming virtual reality platform launching this October. The PlayStation Blog team recently had an opportunity to play a host of new demos, each showcasing impressive variety and ingenuity. Here are our thoughts so far:
One of gaming’s most beloved audio + visual symbioses, Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s classic on-rails shooter is a perfect candidate for an updated VR incarnation. Even if you’re played Rez a hundred times since its original release in 2001, being directly embedded into its trippy, synaesthetic world is an experience that must not be missed. This is how Rez was always meant to be played. — Justin Massongill
Cool VR Detail: Being able to look behind you when a boss goes off screen to keep attacking it. Total game-changer!
Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives
Just plain cool, and a good demonstration of how PS Move motion controllers can transform the PS VR experience. Simply put, Job Simulator tasks you with completing a series of comical office challenges by interacting with various props. Each PS Move represented an independent hand; by moving my hand and pressing the trigger, I picked up and moved a coffee mug, turned on a coffee maker, and ate a donut. All in a day’s work! The atmosphere is seriously funny, and the final game will include other jobs like chef and convenience store clerk. — Sid Shuman
Cool VR detail: Job Simulator is essentially a big, fun VR toybox. I had tons of fun just poking around my cubicle, finding hidden jokes and subtle gags.
One of my favourite PlayStation VR experiences thus far, SuperHyperCube is a first-person puzzle game that tasks the player with rotating a 3D shape to fit through a hole in a slowly advancing wall. Each success yields a more complex shape, and slimmer chances of success.
Since the hole is in the middle of the wall, you’ll need to peek around the shape floating in front of you to see it. This subtle use of VR lets the player focus on the task at hand, while feeling no less immersive and natural than larger-scale experiences. This isn’t just a great VR title, it’s one of the best puzzle games I’ve played in years. — Justin Massongill
Cool VR detail: If you want to access the Options menu, just turn to your left and you’re there. Cool!
Tron on tank treads! This tank shooter provides a glimpse into the future of the VR shooter genre, playing more like a traditional shooter than any of the other VR demos I played.
Loosely inspired by the ’80s arcade and Atari classic, Battlezone plops you in the cockpit of a high-tech tank and sets you loose on a play field teeming with enemies. The game notably takes great advantage of VR’s verticality. I craned my head back to target high-flying aircraft with minigun fire, then glanced down at my virtual dashboard to spot enemy tank locations. The shooting mechanics felt tight and satisfying, too. — Sid Shuman
Cool VR detail: Calling out two for this one! First, looking to the left and seeing your tank’s cannon move up and down as you aim with the right stick on your DualShock 4. Also, sitting in an honest-to-goodness tank cockpit, complete with panels upon panels of flashy lights, knobs, and buttons.
On paper, Thumper sounds like the kind of game that would be way too intense to play in virtual reality, but thanks to its track-based gameplay and constant focal point (the shiny space beetle you control) it’s actually one of the most comfortable VR experiences I’ve had. After trying Thumper on PlayStation VR, there’s no question that that’s how I’m going to play through it this October. — Justin Massongill
Cool VR Detail: Leaning forward to lower your vantage point and get right behind that chrome beetle — everything feels faster when you’re right on top of the track!
This one’s exciting because a) it’s unapologetically ambitious and b) it’s being designed by veteran developers including Jaime Griesemer and Marty O’Donnell.
In this PlayStation VR exclusive, players are cast as a bedridden character who can control towering, sword-wielding creatures. The game’s full scope is still shrouded in mystery, but I did face off against another golem. As my foe swung his enormous sword, I adjusted my PS Move to parry its incoming attacks. This one could be very, very cool. — Sid Shuman
Cool VR detail: To move your character, you simply lean forward, back, or to the side — and it works really well. These kinds of gameplay advancements will prove vital to the growing VR movement as developers and players adapt to the medium’s wider palette.
Placed into a mysterious “Football Improvement Centre” (read: a dark, unsettling soccer field), players are made to hit balls into a goal using only head movements, tracked via PlayStation VR’s high-precision sensors. It takes a little getting used to, but before long you’ll be heading oncoming soccer balls into strategically placed bonus switches around the goal and field. Throughout the demo, things get progressively tougher… and progressively stranger. Let’s just say a piñata is involved. — Justin Massongill
Cool VR detail: Looking up at the lone spotlight on the field and watching the light flare across my field of vision.
This one came out of left field: an on-rails shooter based on PS4 horror hit Until Dawn. Featuring appearances from Until Dawn’s masked murderer and other unfriendly guests, plus nods to light-gun shooters of yore like shootable ammo crates that yield upgraded firepower, Rush of Blood plays like a midway attraction designed by John Carpenter.
I got a strong House of the Dead/Time Crisis vibe, right down to shooting off-screen or flicking your wrist to reload your weapon. Rush of Blood carves out its own identity though and – get this – has me pining for a revival of the light gun shooter genre. I’ll take it! — Justin Massongill
Cool VR detail: An on-rails shooter where you can actually look around! I spotted lots of little secrets while playing Rush of Blood, just by looking for them.
Wayward Sky proves that not everything in virtual reality needs to be first-person. Using a wonderful laser-guided point-and-click mechanic, players guide the story’s main protagonist indirectly but with impressive precision. Upon reaching one of Wayward Sky’s frequently placed puzzles, it switches to a first-person viewpoint so you can reach out and solve it using your PlayStation Move motion controllers. Keep an eye on this one.
Cool VR detail: Being placed directly into the game’s cutscenes — it’s like standing on stage during a play instead of sitting in the audience.