Join us as we escape from reality one last time this year to look back at the Top 10 VR Games of 2016. This was an incredibly difficult list to narrow down, and we appreciate every developer who took a shot at creating something unique and fun on the new canvas that is virtual reality.
10. Rec Room
Rec Room is a quirky game for both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that allows players to play games like Paintball, Dodgeball, 3D Charades, Disc Golf and much more. It is definitely more fun with friends, and has a lot of replay value. It is similar to some of the minigames in AltSpaceVR, but definitely has a finer polish as it is more a gaming first experience.
Windlands is a first-person grappling hook VR exploration game. The game is almost like a first-person platformer in many respects as a key gameplay mechanic is jumping around the beautifully designed levels. Windlands merges some traditional control schemes with new VR motion controls to create an experience that is really fun. The game reminded me of the orb collection portion of the original Crackdown, as players are tasked with collecting crystals in some very hard to reach places. It is the right balance of challenging level design with fun and immersive gameplay that has you flying around like you are Spiderman slinging webs in a matter of minutes. Shout out to Mad Brahmin Disease, a Shacker who worked on the development team of Windlands! The game launched as a gamepad-based VR game but it really shines with Oculus Touch controllers as captured in the above video.
8. The Lab
The Lab is a bundle of games made by Valve Software. Yeah, Valve Software! The Lab is free with the purchase of the HTC Vive Virtual Reality Head Mounted Display and features a combination of experiences and games. My favorite game has to be Xortex, an arcadey space shooter that places you in the middle of the fight. Longbow is a cool bow and arrow game that features hordes of adorable enemies trying to break into your castle. Slingshot was another standout game in The Lab as it features that trademark Valve humor. Players are tasked with destroying a futuristic warehouse with hilarious cores. Rhythm core captured my attention several times, as seen here:
Valve has updated The Lab to allow for endless gameplay high score attacks in a few of its games. This has added serious replay value to what was already a great group of VR experiences. We hope there are more fun experiences coming to The Lab soon, but we understand if Valve is busy working on Half Life 3.
Thumper is a rhythm violence game from Drool. It launched for PS4 with PSVR support, but is now available for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well. It is the best rhythm game to come out in many years. The game's visual representation of its music creates an immersive experience when playing the game on a TV, but playing in a VR HMD takes it to another level. Part of Thumper's beauty is in its simplicity. It is easy to pick up and play, but incredibly difficult to master. Players are graded at the end of each section with S being the best rating. It appealed to me on many levels as a fan of racing and music games, but the way that the game melds the tactile, visual, and auditory senses into one cohesive and immersive experience is what makes it one of the best virtual reality games to come out this year.
6. Job Simulator
Job Simulator is a quirky and fun VR game by Owlchemy Lab Inc. that doesn't take itself too seriously. Players are tasked with the seemingly mundane jobs of a business man, convenience store clerk, fast food cook, and auto mechanic. It is one of the first games to come out this year that was able to perfecly balance immersive gameplay and hand presence alongside humor in a fun package. Kudos to the writers for some of the funniest writing in any VR game to come out this year!
5. House of the Dying Sun
House of the Dying Sun is a tactical space shooter that puts you in the cockpit of the universe's most terrifying starfighter. Made by Mike "Rampancy" Tipul, another Shacker, the game was our favorite space combat VR game to be released this year. The drift gameplay mechanic adds a different feel than most other space shooters to be released in recent memory. House of the Dying Sun works on traditional computer monitors, but is way better in VR. The menus are very easy to navigate as you command your fleet. There is also a solid amount of replayability with 4 levels of difficulty and unlockable upgrades. If you are into VR space combat, you must play House of the Dying Sun.
Ripcoil is one part frisbee, one part Tron, and equal parts fun. Players face off online in a disc-based game by Sanzaru Games that places the player on top of a hoverboard that is controlled by shifting your weight. This is one of most unique gameplay mechanics used in VR this year as you really feel like shifting your weight directly controls your hoverboard while you punch and throw discs around with your hands powered by the Oculus Touch controllers. While the game is simplistic at first glance, it offers a great amount of replay value and will most likely create blood feuds amongst your VR buddies. The game is exclusive to Oculus Rift, unless you have Revive.
3. The Unspoken
Insomniac Games hit a home run with this game. The Unspoken showed us that magic is real in this Oculus Touch VR action game that pulls players into the world of spellcasting and magicians’ duels. Players can manipulate the environment with the powerful arcane forces that flow through their fingertips, summon unfathomable monstrosities with their bare hands, and rise up through the ranks of an urban magic fight club. The Unspoken features some of the best hand presence in any VR title to be released this year and the multiplayer component adds a lot of replay value for players. Who doesn't want to shoot a fireball at their friend? The game is also exclusive to Oculus Rift.
2. Rez Infinite
Rez Infinite is the main reason that I purchased a PSVR HMD. I was a huge fan of the original game and nothing has changed my opinion with this latest release. What amazed me about Rez Infinite is how well the game has translated to virtual reality. The third person perspective is great for looking around the environment while you fly through those same delightfully minimalistic levels. It is everything that made the original music based game great, just even better with the immersion of VR.
1. SUPERHOT VR
SUPER! HOT! This game received quite a bit of critical acclaim when it was released earlier this year. The way that player movement determines passage of time is a very novel gameplay mechanic that was impressive and cool on a computer monitor. SUPERHOT VR amplifies that unique gameplay mechanic by many orders of magnitude. The game captures everything that can be fun about VR. A keen sense of presence, aided by the great use of the Oculus Touch controllers. SUPERHOT VR's trademark "when you move they move" style achieves some of the most immersive gameplay we have seen in VR to date. The game also has a tremendous amount of replay value as completionists will strive for the game's validation that they are in fact, SUPER HOT. It is truly the best VR game of 2016, and we salute the SUPERHOT team for making a game that Shackers will enjoy in virtual reality for years to come. They truly know how to do it for Shacknews.
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