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8 PlayStation VR Games You’ll Want to Show Your Friends

It’s still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences

If you're lucky enough to have actually got your hands on an elusive PlayStation VR unit today, you'll no doubt be spending a good chunk of your weekend fending off family and friends demanding to try it out. 

That said, VR as a technology is in its embryonic stages, and nowhere is this more evident than in the PSVR's launch lineup. The rules for this young medium are being written in real-time by pioneering developers, and you get the feeling that no one knows much of anything quite yet. 

Yet there's no denying the sheer novelty of VR, and even if its rules and conventions are still a work in progress, something undeniably magical happens when you don a headset for the first time and recede from regular reality. A handful of games dropping alongside the PSVR make a great argument for doing so. While it may be a stretch to call some of the games on this list "great" – and "game" feels like an increasingly unwieldy term to describe some of them – they suggest a tantalizing future.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Batman Arkham VR’

It takes less than 30 seconds of standing in Batman's boots in Arkham VR to convince you that this is the kind of thing that virtual reality was made for. The magic is evident even before the game properly begins, as you're perched on a rooftop taking in the Gotham skyline. It's enough to convince even the most fervid skeptic to admit that yeah, this VR thing is pretty cool. The Arkham series of action games on which it's based are a potent mix of combat, exploration and investigation, but Arkham VR forgoes the first two completely, squarely focusing on Batman's reputation as the world's greatest detective. While that might sound more yawn-inducing than thrilling, the gadget-focused investigative gameplay lends itself to an intriguing and surprisingly scary series of VR puzzles that have you waving your scanner over things to find hidden clues, reaching into the environment to examine objects and flinging Batarangs to trigger switches. At $20, it may seem pricey for something that's only about an hour long, but if you're looking for a glimpse of VR's potential, this delivers.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Battlezone’

Battlezone was there in 1980, when the idea of a 3D world was in its most fleeting stages of possibility, and so it is again in these early days of VR. But where its predecessor signaled a future of previously-unimaginable digital entertainment, this new Battlezone feels like a throwback in all the right ways. Unlike a lot of VR, it doesn't try to ape reality, instead going whole-hog with a striking retro-cyber look that evokes classic films like Tron and Wargames. The end result is both cohesive and convincing. From the moment you drop into your tank's cavernous cockpit, you get the feeling that there's an internal logic to this weird digital world – to why enemies drop "data" when you blow them up, and why you're craning your neck around to read all your instrument panels.

The "roguelike" structure – in which you're forced start from a clean slate after every "game over" – hearkens back to the arcade days, and works perfectly with the sort of short spurts of play that VR is best suited for. Beyond all this, though, Battlezone just feels right to play.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Driveclub VR’

If we had to bet on it, we'd put money on PSVR being the curveball that caused Gran Turismo – Sony and Polyphony Digital’s obsessively-detailed love letter to real world motorsports – to be delayed yet again. Driveclub VR's unpolished (but nevertheless effective) effort only makes that prospect even more tantalizing.

The effect takes hold before you even start your engines, with a walk-around of your ride that allows for close examination of every detail, down to the fancy stitching on the leather. Once you’re on the grid, you can spend another few moments taking in the cockpit, peering over the side of the more kart-like cars, adjusting your seat height and getting comfy. The driving feel is spot-on (but then it’s spot-on in the non-VR Driveclub, so no surprises there). If the stated goal of any VR experience is immersion, then Driveclub VR delivers convincingly. Where it falters is exactly where you would imagine it to, given the limitations of the PS4, which struggled to power the original game’s stunning visuals. Sony’s console strains under the demands of VR, dropping the image quality so much that the sunset and dusk tracks are almost unplayable. Put your virtual pedal down on the daylight courses, though, and it all comes together – the handling, the sense of speed and that feeling that you’re only a half turn of the wheel away from crashing out.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘EVE Valkyrie’

Eve Valkyrie delivers on one of the fundamental promises of VR: the outer space dogfight fantasy. Its connection to Eve Online, the ongoing and super popular MMO that's a bottomless well for player drama, will only be relevant to the the truly devoted, but its intrinsic charms are immediately evident to the rest of us. It's probably the most persuasive example yet of VR's capacity to elevate what would otherwise be an ordinary experience on a flat screen. The second you blast off and find yourself dancing amongst asteroids and space junk, you're fully there, ready buy into the fantasy in all its grandeur and majesty. Once it hits you that you can scan the interior of your cockpit and take in a panoramic view of space, you're sold.

It's almost enough to help you forget that there isn't a whole lot to the actual game behind the spectacle. Eve Valkyrie is a pretty rudimentary arcade-style space shooter at its core, relying almost entirely on the novelty of the medium to carry its thrills. As a showcase for the tech, it's a stirring success. But as a game with actual staying power? Probably not, if its reviews on other VR platforms are any indication.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Headmaster’

Headmaster, as the title suggests, is all about heading balls with your face. It's set in a football-themed prison dubbed the "Football Improvement Center," and it has a gloriously dark sense of humor that evokes the wit of Douglas Adams and the banter of Portal or The Stanley Parable. It's also possibly the most unexpectedly approachable VR game at launch because its core concept is so fundamentally easy to understand: It kicks balls at you, and you have to head them back at targets to score points. That might sound incredibly simple, but as you progress through its elaborate "re-education plan," you're soon faced with heading the ball through hoops, at moving targets, or through elaborate obstacles before things escalate and become utterly bonkers. By later levels you'll be blowing up barriers with explosive soccer balls and even heading lethal-looking "knifeballs" at elaborate moving targets. It's by no means PSVR's answer to Wii Sports, but it's a rare launch game that's hilarious when played with friends, and actively supports passing the headset around for multiplayer group sessions.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Job Simulator’

Put anyone inside Job Simulator, probably up to an actual Luddite, and they'll find something to love. You do menial work, auto repair, office administration, cooking, convenience store clerking, but you’re doing it as a robot, so it's all in good fun – as opposed to a soul destroying reminder of America's continuing challenges with underemployment. Pick things up, throw them, put them down, set them on fire, it's all in the name of having a good time. It's cartoonish in the right way because it doesn't so much avoid the uncanny valley as sail over it on a primary colored rocket. The jobs themselves are impossible to fail, so while perfectionism isn't rewarded, experimentation definitely is (tip: eat a donut from the trash). You might not play this alone more than once, but it'll be the VR game you'll always reach for at parties.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘Rez Infinite’

It may seem as if "infinite" is a nod to the number of times we'll see Rez get remade – it has been cast and recast several times since its debut on the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 – but don't let that put you off. Of all the games in the PSVR launch lineup, Tetsuya Mizuguchi's latest Rez incarnation does more to demonstrate the transportive potential of the technology than perhaps any other.

It's not just the still-fresh-sounding beats that fill the space between its pulsing wireframe world, or the instinctive controls that make it work (though both play their part) – it's how you feel an hour in, when you realize you've been completely absorbed, with every fiber of your being conscripted by its simple, zen-like elegance. Because it turns out the infinite is what you get a glimpse of as the game opens up its new level – Area X. Designed specifically for VR, it ditches the steady momentum of its on-rails origins for a breathtaking 360-degree fireworks display in what feels like infinite space. At this point, Rez transforms from a colorful exploration of the computerized innards of Tron's freezer to something borderline transcendent – a thing of abstract beauty that would be Instagram-worthy on any device, but in VR comes wholly alive. If you don't get the potential of this technology after that, there's no hope for you.

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It's still early days for this exciting tech, but there are already some mind-blowing experiences.

‘VR Worlds’

Think of VR Worlds as the PSVR's tasting menu: short experiences to help you adapt to that shiny new headset you just unboxed. The best ones harness your most primal instincts, like, "Oh my god! I don't want to be eaten!" (Ocean Descent); "Oh shit, I’m going too fast down this hill!” (VR Luge, which is like a nightmare in which you’re tied to a skateboard); and “Oh my god, I must win at everything, including aggressive head Pong!" (Danger Ball). The London Heist is VR gunplay as directed by Guy Ritchie and Scavenger's Odyssey is a shoot-and-steer space adventure. Both feel less immediate because they're designed around more complicated gameplay, but still serve as a strong hint at what VR can offer beyond jump scares and stomach lurches.

In This Article: glixel, Video Game, Virtual Reality

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