When PlayStation VR hit the shelves in late 2016, it did so with a solid day-one line up. Launch titles delivered a range of fresh, impressive virtual reality experiences from VR Worlds, SuperHyperCube and Job simulator, plus brand new VR chapters for existing franchises such as Tomb Raider and Until Dawn.
The strong catalogue of games from day-one was enough to see the PlayStation peripheral in high demand for the 2016 holiday season, and in February this year Sony confirmed the headset was on track to exceed their modest goal of a million units in the first six months.
Since then Sony has been relatively quiet about the future of PSVR, but thankfully E3 2017 has turned the tides on that. Without any major hardware to focus on, Sony’s E3 press conference went all in on games and delivered a much needed VR boost.
In case you missed them, here are seven new virtual reality games announced at Sony’s press conference.
This unsettling new VR horror/thriller is actually a prequel to Until Dawn – and we know exactly how that turned out.
Set 60 years before the events of Supermassive’s decision based filmic horror game, The Inpatient explores the story of the sanatorium where sinister experiments went so very wrong. Much like Until Dawn, your decisions and the subtle ways you choose to interact with characters will affect the story. There’s even a creepy, mysterious man interviewing you, akin to the psychiatrist cut scenes in the original game.
Supermassive are quick to point out however that you don’t need to have played or indeed know anything about Until Dawn to enjoy their new release, which might explain the omission of the series from the game’s title (unlike last year’s Rush of Blood).
Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep
The best part of Final Fantasy XV was, for me, its quirky road-trip narrative and the relationship between its four main characters. So the fact that Sony’s conference revealed FFXV’s VR component will be focused on hanging with the guys doing some fishing is perfect. It also looks slow and steady enough not to trigger the nauseating side-effects associated with virtual reality.
This of course differs entirely from the demo we saw a year ago at E3 2016, which was a much more generic, arcade-shooter experience where you fire at monsters from a distance as Pronto. It looked great and worked well, but admittedly felt more like a VR tech demo than an extension of the game.
This fishing spin-off incorporates the distinctive personality of FFXV and admittedly it looks a bit weird – but I for one would much rather have an odd Final Fantasy fishing simulator than another generic shooter.
A big E3 headline-grabber was the revelation that Bethesda’s popular open-world fantasy RPG Skyrim is coming to PSVR.
It’s a real testament to Bethesda that this is the second time Skyrim, a six year old game, has had a presence at this year’s E3 – and the second year running we’ve had new versions of the 2011 open-world game announced.
Last year we got a remaster, this year Bethesda confirmed the game was coming to Nintendo Switch with motion controls (and a master sword), and now Sony are bringing the Elder Scrolls world to life in virtual reality.
Skyrim joins Bethesda’s VR ranks alongside Fallout 4 and Doom which both featured in Bethesda’s E3 conference. Rather than a short, specially designed add on, it looks like Skyrim VR will be a new way to experience the full, original game. Considering the popularity of games designed for shorter play sessions, a huge binge-worthy open-world game seems like a brave proposition for anyone who hasn’t quite got their VR sea-legs.
Superhot is already playable on console, but the VR experience began as an Oculus exclusive. Earlier this year it made its way to the HTC Vive, and now Sony have confirmed the quirky FPS will be available on PSVR at last.
Superhot is a first-person shooter where time only moves when you do. That means you can take your time and pull off some really satisfying moves without burning your eyes on the intense, rapid pace that is usually associated with shooters. It’s engaging and fun without being overtly fast-paced and janky, making it well suited to virtual reality, and letting you feel like an actual hitman ninja.
On top of that the visual design of the game is beautiful, and the peaceful soundtrack of the trailer incorporates just how zen Superhot really is.
One of Sony’s brand new games is being developed by Playful, the studio behind the adorable Oculus Rift exclusive Lucky’s Tale – a colourful game that wouldn’t look out of place on the N64. Lucky’s Tale plays like a solid platformer that happens to be in VR, rather than a game designed to showcase the strengths of virtual reality headsets, and what little we’ve seen of Star Child suggests it will adopt a similar approach.
The E3 trailer shows off bright neon sci-fi environments that look perfect for VR, but it doesn’t give too much more away.
Whilst it doesn’t stand out massively in terms of gameplay, the trailer for Bravo Team suggest this basic cover shooter has the potential to be quite engaging in VR. If you’ve ever found yourself distracted by the little things in virtual reality, you might enjoy this imagining of conflict in an eastern European city, complete with attractive landmarks and threatening graffiti.
Supermassive Games, who developed Until Dawn and the aforementioned Inpatient VR, say the game has been designed with co-op in mind, playable both in single player and in a two player mode that tests your team working skills. The idea is that you work together with a partner, covering each other as you progress through the level.
Games like Star Trek Bridge Crew and Werewolves Within have proved VR is a really entertaining avenue for multiplayer, so that aspect might elevate this from a generic shooter to something special.
Arguably the most adorable addition to Sony’s conference was the delightful Moss. This gorgeous game sees you exploring tropical ruins, solving puzzles and fending off enemies as a seriously adorable mouse. Again, it’s the colourful art style and detailed environments that really make this interesting, and playing with scale is something that really works in VR. Exploring ancient temples is surely a hundred times more intimidating and fascinating from the level of this miniature, big-eared adventurer.
That brings me to the most striking part of the game, which is not the clever design or whimsical art, but its quirky protagonist. Moss lets you interact with its rodent hero Quill, who is (oddly enough) entirely aware of your presence, and you are even tuned to her heartbeat which quickens during combat and low health. It’s a subtle addition that ups the odds of conflict as you work to keep your little friend safe from danger.
Games enthusiast with a passion for all things geek culture.