Maybe you're ready to dive into virtual reality. Maybe you're on the fence. Either way, you're curious what Sony's PlayStation VR has to offer -- and we're happy to oblige. Here are all of Sony's day-one launch titles so far.
There's nothing quite like strapping into the holographic interface of a futuristic starfighter and blasting out into space. Eve: Valkyrie is almost all online multiplayer dogfights, so don't expert much variety -- but it's such a trip that I keep coming back. The PSVR version's graphics aren't quite as detailed though, and can get downright fuzzy in some levels. Besides, the PSVR version will let you play with friends on Oculus too. (Just be warned: it's not a game for weak stomachs.)
Corrected 10/19 to note that some later levels have much fuzzier graphics.
Be the Batman? Arkham VR is the next best thing -- a roughly hour-long adventure where you don the Batsuit (you literally put it on!) and use your utility belt's gadgets to solve a murder mystery. I won't spoil too much, but let's just say there's a surprisingly clever twist. Short, linear, but an experience you'll want to share. Plus, you can unlock large-as-life animated models of famous Batman characters, and it's one of the best-looking games on PS VR yet.
There's no describing the majesty that is Rez Infinite. 15 years ago, the original Rez was already a musical mind trip on old-school 2D TVs. Now, the Tron-like environments are all around you. It's like flying through neon code.
We've played through several levels now, and it's a must-have for at least one CNET editor.
You're on the highway to Hell, banging your head to the beat. Your steed is a silver beetle traveling at the speed of sound, on a collision course with the Devil himself. He's throwing every obstacle in your path, bending the fabric of space to stop your charge. Press buttons, to the beat, to dodge his traps and destroy him.
I just made half of that up, but it describes Thumper to a T. It's fast, furious and fantastic. You can play it without VR, too, but it's just not the same.
In a world where robots have taken all the jobs, there are no consequences for failure. That's why Job Simulator is so hilarious. Pick an office drone, auto repair worker, short-order cook or convenience store clerk, then "fulfill" an increasingly complex set of orders with clever combinations of the tools and ingredients around you. Or just grab things and throw them.
It's a little harder to grab things with the (required) PS Move controllers than on other VR platforms, though. Try the demo on the PS VR's included demo disc before you buy it.
If you buy a PlayStation VR, you must try Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. It's a truly scary horror game mixed with a pitch-perfect shooting gallery. You ride a slow-moving roller coaster that takes an unplanned turn into a haunted house, where all manner of sinister things await -- things you might only see when your gun-mounted flashlights are pointed at them. Seven solid levels, hidden secrets, advanced difficulty levels and online leaderboards give it loads of replay value. At just $20, it's a steal.
The PlayStation Move motion controllers aren't technically required, but it's not the same without them.
Immersive, frenetic and tough as nails, Battlezone isn't just a remake of the old-school arcade shooting game. There's strategy, too, as you pick your path through procedurally generated campaign maps, save up credits for more powerful weapons, and coordinate hover tank assaults with up to three friends in online co-op multiplayer. What you can't see in this picture: VR gives you awesome peripheral vision to let you pick off targets instead of getting blindsided. Definitely one of our favorites.
It's the Tetris of VR. Human Tetris, to be specific -- where you have to fit through specific cut-outs in a series of walls. Only Super HyperCube adds more blocks after you pass through each wall. It's an addictive, "just one more try" puzzler that really benefits from your depth perception in VR. We wouldn't buy a VR headset to play it, but if you have one, get this.
PlayStation VR Worlds is five games in one -- or rather, five tech demos that show what VR is capable of.
The London Heist is the cream of the crop, thanks to high production values. It's basically a short interactive gangster film where you can reach out and grab items in your immediate vicinity with the PlayStation Move controllers, including magazines you'll actually need to stuff into your pistol before blasting baddies.
It's over much too soon, but some additional shooting galleries and challenges give it some replay value.
The second PlayStation VR Worlds game, Danger Ball, is a futuristic game of Pong you play with your head. Tilt it to move the paddle, and attempt to defeat a variety of challenge AI opponents each with their own special play style (such as huge paddles, or a tornado attack).
Not a lot here, but the AI is tough enough so you won't win without practice.
The third VR Worlds title, Ocean Descent, is a hands-off experience where you're lowered deep, deep into the ocean so you can witness the majesty of undersea life in 360 degrees. It's not exactly a nature documentary, though. There are thrills, too.
You'll probably try it once, show it to your friends a couple times, and be done with it. We were bored partway through.
VR Luge sends you screaming down a mountain road, feet first. Just tilt your head to avoid losing speed by slamming into the side of the mountain or passing cars. It's not much of a thrill once you discover that losing speed is the only consequence, and there's very little variety in the game's three levels.
Scavenger's Odyssey -- the last VR Worlds title -- also isn't much of a game, but it definitely shows what VR can do, throwing you into the cockpit of a robot suit that can hop from asteroid to asteroid, as you explore a giant nebula dotted with wreckage and blast space spiders.
I don't think I'd buy PlayStation VR Worlds for any of these five experiences, but I'd definitely try them at a friend's house.
A simple, whimsical animated short film, which draws inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl." You get to look around the storybook-like environments as if you were there. You can even lean up close.
There isn't much more to see with repeat viewings, though.
See this tree? It moves to the beat -- the beat of any song you place on a USB flash drive and plug into your PlayStation. Harmonix Music VR lets you paint with sound using the (required) PlayStation Move controllers as your brush and easel. The game also has a dance party mode and a couple of super-trippy, all-around-you music visualizer experiences, but they get old pretty quick.
It's not just Jenga: this VR physics puzzler has you build 'em up, blast 'em down, align laser beams, even play a bit of 3D Tetris here and there. It starts off pretty easy, but gets progressively harder. It's just not quite clear why it needed to be a VR game.
Also, I actually found the default PlayStation 4 controller easier to use than the optional PS Move ones.
A kid-friendly adventure with plenty of heart and an amazing sense of scale, Wayward Sky puts you in the shoes of Bess, a young girl traversing a floating fortress filled with cute (and nasty) robots in search of your dad. The perspective switches between first-person and a glorious third-person view -- sometimes you'll point Bess in the right direction, other times you'll use her hands to solve puzzles. It's an extremely linear game with fairly easy, repetitive puzzles, but it's also a fantastic way to introduce yourself (or others) to VR.
...but they get rather devious. Exploding balls, chompers and a variety of other hazards (and opportunities) await.
Plus, there's a creepy narrator guiding you through the course, giving the whole experience a Portal-like vibe. "Improvement is mandatory." I've played over a dozen levels now, and it seems pretty fun.
In Bound, you literally dance through an entire game world. Critics called it "gorgeous" and "a work of art" even on flatscreen TVs, and I can attest that it's even more gorgeous in VR. Some of those same critics called the gameplay underwhelming, and it's true that it's not very deep, but it's just so visually stunning that I can't discount it.
After VR, racing games may never be the same again. Once you feel like you're actually inside the cockpit of a race car, it's tough to go back to a flat screen. I've only gotten two tastes of Driveclub VR, but it's definitely the most immersive driving game I've played yet -- even if the graphics are a little muddy inside the PSVR headset. Sony says the full game has 80 different cars and 114 tracks. That's pretty decent evidence that Driveclub VR isn't just another tech demo.
I'm sorry to say, 100ft Robot Golf isn't a very good game -- and it's worse in VR. Don't get me wrong, I love the poorly dubbed anime parody vibe of this ridiculous robot golf game, but the actual gameplay is super basic, the levels same-y, the AI braindead, and VR seems to have been a poorly implemented afterthought.
You're trapped in a room with an intricate bomb. Your real-life friends have the defusal manual. Communicate to solve the puzzles, or die trying. It's a fantastic party game that doesn't technically require VR, but it definitely makes the game feel more real. Plus, your friends can sit next to you instead of on the other side of a room. Just as fun than the original on Oculus, Gear VR and Vive, except you don't need to print out the bomb manual: everyone else can see a digital copy on the TV screen.
Here They Lie is genuinely creepy, and VR plays a huge role. You can't look away. If you do "look away," there might be something even creepier behind you. In this case, it's more of a surreal horror than a set of non-stop jump scares. Walls shift. Sinister things creep. I wanted to take off the headset and stop playing. Is that a good thing? I've only tried it in short stints three times so far, so I can't say if the game is worth it.
On paper, Rigs: Mechanized Combat League sounds amazing. You rip through enemy robot suits with machine guns and missiles, then score points by rocketing through a giant hoop in the arena like a basketball. It's the sport of the future, and it's all around you in VR.
Having tried it a few times, though, I'm not sure I have the stomach to play. You need to turn on a dime to avoid getting shot from behind, and that isn't always comfortable in VR. Plus, we've only seen a tiny portion of the game. I'll update this after I've spent some time in the league.
How much would you pay to stand on stage with a pop star? You can -- as long as you're talking about Hatsune Miku, the virtual idol who's uber-popular in Japan. Sure, she doesn't really exist, and you won't be doing much except waving a glowstick and gawking in awe (I speak from experience) but you'll only have to pay $15 for seven full songs. More details here.
Like your games stealthy? Volume has plenty of that. The original game had 100 maze-like levels filled with patrolling guards, alarms, laser tripwires and the like. Now, a free update adds VR for even more situational awareness. (Instead of having the camera pan around the level, you get to reposition and resize the game board as if it were a 3D diorama.) Plus 30 new levels, new voice acting and more. Pretty tempting for the money, but I haven't played much of it so far.
The VR remake of a PS4 remake of a PS3 game of pool which got some pretty good reviews back in 2009 when it first came out. We haven't gotten to try it in VR yet, but here's what the developer says it includes:
"Hustle your way around the world in 1 vs. 1 league matches, tournaments and daily challenges, show off your cue skills in trick-shot and puzzle challenges, or try your luck with some of the unique Hustle Kings crazy tables."
What if you don't just want pool? SportsBarVR gives you air hockey, darts, skeeball, shuffleboard, chess and checkers too in a six-player online experience. Plus physics, so you and friends can grab and smash chairs, beer bottles and other objects, or use them to interfere with the game. It looks like a blast, but we haven't tried it yet.
Another mini-game collection, The PlayRoom VR has a special emphasis on games four of your friends can play on the TV, while the fifth stays in VR. For instance, Ghost House has your friends point at ghosts only they can see, while you direct a Ghostbuster-like ray to catch them.
The more you play each of mini-game, the more coins you get to unlock awesome little diorama-like environments for the cute bots to play in. That's what you're seeing here.
Cat and Mouse, another one of the six PlayRoom VR mini-games, pits one player (the cat) against four mice trying to steal from the kitchen. It's not a very good game unless you've got more three or more players.
And then there's Monster Escape, where the other four players have to run away from your skyscraper-bashing monster (you bash with your head), then bash you back with thrown objects you have to dodge. Very simplistic, but a neat experience.
The PlayRoom VR is a free download for every PSVR owner.
Loading Human, an episodic adventure series where you relive simulated memories in a VR experience (so meta!) to transfer them into a new body, is super ambitious. You can pick up practically any object in the game's futuristic frozen outpost to learn about them. The plot is intriguing. But the body that the game stuffs you into just doesn't feel right. It's way too hard to pick things up, move around, or generally feel like you're inhabiting this other person. It made me feel a little sick.
Plus, you're paying a lot for an estimated 4 hours of game time.
Super Stardust Ultra VR makes that way more immersive. But it also has a totally different mode (pictured) where you're on a planet, looking out the cockpit of your hover tank, blasting away at foes with two cannons and missiles that aim wherever you move your head. (It's monotonous but fun.) I stayed up late on launch night, and hit #3 on the online leaderboards for the new mode. I'm still in the top 100.
A gorgeous, artsy VR fortune-telling experience, with tarot cards and horoscopes. Not something you play, but rather something you go back to for a few minutes each day -- if you believe in the power to control fate.
The game promises you can go back in time to see dinosaurs, but don't expect "Jurassic Park" -- you spend your time underwater, in a submarine, scanning underwater dinosaurs. Occasionally things get more exciting when you have to run away from a fast-swimming dinosaur, or inspect its mouth up close. It's more of an educational tour than a game, though.
We're now hearing this one might not be a launch title.
A zany, cartoony first-person shooter that mixes elements of Battlefield and Team Fortress? Sign us up -- particularly when it won't cost a dime to play. And there's a non-VR mode, just in case the VR-version makes you sick.
Like EVE: Valkyrie, it's a graphically impressive space shooter set in the EVE universe -- but it's not the same. Instead of space dogfights, you're the turret gunner on the bow of a capital ship. Kind of like that scene in Star Wars where Luke and Han take the turret guns on the Millennium Falcon, except with wave after wave of enemies.
The graphics are simple, and the gameplay even simpler: think Pong meets Tron. It's a game of neon racquetball against the computer. But people who've tried it on the HTC Vive say it's surprisingly fun, because you get to reach out and hit that ball with your motion controllers. We'll have to see if the PS Move controllers can keep up.
We're now hearing this one might not be a launch title.
The Assembly is intriguing -- we have to give it that. From the murder mystery you must solve to audition for a position at the mysterious scientific research firm, to your paranoid, constantly-looking-over-shoulder attempt to gather evidence against the morally corrupt organization, it's an interesting place to be. But it wasn't an interesting place to be in VR, at least on other VR platforms. It made us a bit sick every time we tried, and weird design decisions sometimes break the immersion VR is supposed to provide. Playing without VR felt better. Perhaps the PSVR version will be different.
We can't seem to find a video of this game in action, but the developer says it'll include 12 minigames, including ball and ring tosses, shooting galleries, darts and a climbing wall, plus virtual prizes you win for beating them.
Remember when the Nintendo Wii was flooded with crappy, kiddy, gimmick-laden games to take advantage of the motion controls? Ace Banana is one of those. You're a banana, wielding a bow to protect your banana kids from waves of invading monkeys. The controls aren't great, the graphics are ugly, and it's just plain boring.
We haven't tried it yet, and the fact that it's from the creators of Ace Banana give me pause. Still, here's Sony's description: "Pixel Gear is a colorful 3D pixel shoot-em-up with a variety of humorous cartoon monsters and ghosts as enemies. Each level is filled with interactive objects that exhibit entertaining reactions when hit and upgradeable weapons grant the ability to slow down or even stop time."
Not sure about this one either. "Weeping Doll is a story-driven horror adventure where dolls can come alive, animated by the negative thoughts of their child owners. Solve difficult puzzles in eerie environments as an abused girl's doll takes revenge on her parents -- and things only get scarier from there," says Sony.