Stretched across one whole side of PlayStation’s E3 2018 booth is a line of PS VR pods. Offering everything from trance-like puzzle games to British-flavoured crime capers, these stations showcased the rich variety of upcoming experiences either only possible with PS VR, or enhanced by it.
We donned a headset, grabbed a pair of PS Move controllers and dove straight in. Here are our highlights.
1. Blood & Truth
London Studio brought its potent, explosive London-set crime thriller with it to LA. Expanding on the scope and mechanics of its London Heist experience from PlayStation VR Worlds, the E3 demo saw us infiltrate a gang-filled tower block. It was the perfect tasting menu.
We played with pistols, automatics and shotguns; stretched for perilous handholds for a dizzying climb up exterior scaffolding; and showed the steadiness of our hands by lock-picking doors and handcuffs. It’s brilliant, and we can’t wait to play more.
2. Tetris Effect
We were completely captivated by Enhance’s take on the iconic puzzler. We tested a multi-level campaign of sorts, requiring you to clear a certain number of lines to move to the next sequence, each having its own music and accompanying visual skin for the well.
It’s an idea that’ll be familiar to Lumines fans and PS VR feels the perfect place to experience its mesmerising light shows.
The new PS VR adventure from Bloodborne creator Hidetaka Miyazaki was one of the most intriguing experiences on the showfloor. About as far a cry as you could imagine from the visceral action adventure games that FromSoftware are celebrated for, Deracine is a sedate mystery that plays out in a Victorian girls boarding school that’s frozen in time.
The brief sequence we played featured fairly traditional puzzle adventure gameplay that saw us hunting down specific items to move the story along, but the atmosphere felt unique, completely absorbing and, in its obliqueness, 100% Miyazaki.
4. Track Lab
Truthfully, we were so absorbed building a music track thanks to Track Lab’s intuitive UI that we lost track of time. Ironic, given that this music creator is all about perfect timing. Representing beats and sound effects as physical items and light pulses on a grid adds up to an experience that is easy to understand and and have fun with. It’s an absorbing experience that feels unique – and perfect for PS VR.
5. Beat Saber
Of course, if you’d rather get physical with your rhythm, then Beat Saber is where you need to be. Our PS Move controllers looked like light blades as we stood in a neon-infused room that felt like we’d stepped into a Tron movie. With music pulsing in our headphones, we attacked inbound cubes, slashing in the direction marked on their exteriors.
An intense few minutes ensued, but the experience stuck; we caught ourselves tapping our foot and nodding our head hours later.
6. Firewall: Zero Hour
There are arcade shooting thrills in PS VR, then there’s the tense, methodical but no less satisfying gunplay of Firewall: Zero Hour. It’s a cat and mouse game of four-on-four in which strategy is all important and team communication key as you either infiltrate and attack, or defend your position against the opposing team.
Team tactics solidified quickly, and as we started to rack up round wins thank to complimentary load-outs and protecting each other’s backs, it became clear that Firewall is shaping up to be something special.
7. Salary Man Escape
Quirky, addictive, unsettling: three words that immediately come to mind after an initial Salary Man Escape session. An easy reference point is Jenga – the game contains numerous stages built from and built around shifting blocks. You need to carefully remove the correct ones to give the suited gent on-screen an obstacle-free route to the stage’s exit. As proven by our numerous restarts, it’s not easy. But then, the best puzzlers never are.
8. Astro Bot Rescue Mission
The demo for Japan Studio’s PS VR platformer lets you play around with its duality of gameplay and perspectives. The player has direct control over the on-screen Astro Bot while moving their body and head to spot both upcoming threats and hidden areas. The Dualshock 4 actually appears in-game, with gyros and touchpad playing the role of a multi-tool to solve environmental puzzles. It’s a charming experience that leaves us with a face-splitting grin when our session ends.
9. The Persistence
Any chance to delve further into this potent slice of slow-burn sci-fi horror is always welcome, even if it scares us witless. Our new look just helps reinforce what we love already; the intricate details of the ship’s interiors; the procedural generation approach to its level design; and of course the creatures that haunt every locale.
10. Creed: Rise to Glory
Picture what you’d imagine a boxing game on PS VR would look like. First person? Correct. PS Move controllers mirroring your boxer’s arm movements, letting you punch and block? You’re right on the money.
By orientating its visual design to offer a slightly exaggerated and cartoonish feel to its fighters, Creed taps (or punches) into the arcade genre that feels like the perfect fit for this big-screen tie-in.
11. Dark Eclipse
The MOBA genre debuts on PS VR with this fantasy-themed strategy battler. Dark Eclipse envisions the playing field as an interactive tabletop which you oversee.
We use the PS Move controllers to rotate the table, zooming in to appreciate the finer detailing of its host of heroes and horrific villains. A wave of the PS Move controller dictates how and where you direct your heroic character, making for a tactile MOBA experience that plays to PS VR’s strengths.
12. Ghost Giant
It’s all too easy to fall in love with Ghost Giant’s world. Partly because of that visual style, partly because of your ability to interact with it, such as opening up houses like dioramas to peek inside, but mainly because of the immediate emotional bond you build with the game’s characters.
We were charmed by their interactions and it’s a bittersweet moment when we have to step away from making fast friends with its cast. This is a place we’ll be happy to come back to for a longer visit.
13. Trover Saves the Universe
The pitch of a comedy action platformer is fascinating enough but when the mind behind it is that of Rick & Morty co-creator Justin Roiland then you’re compelled to find out just how far the concept can be pushed. And what we find is a tight platforming experience full of off-beat, fourth wall-breaking humour.