These are the PlayStation VR games I'd actually pay for
Sony's PlayStation VR headset will have 30+ titles available at launch. Here's the cream of the crop -- and everything else.
Sean HollisterSenior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
I've spent a week with the final version of Sony's $399 headset and many of its games, and I've been playing PSVR demos at trade shows for well over a year. If I were buying a PSVR on launch day -- October 13 -- these are the games I would legitimately buy (with my own money!) to go with it.
The moment I knew Eve: Valkyrie was something special wasn't the first time I pulled the trigger, sending a barrage of head-tracking missiles careening towards my target. It wasn't when I realized I could follow enemy ships as they whipped past my cockpit -- turning my actual head to keep a bead on them at all times.
No, the moment I'll never forget is when I strapped into my starfighter for the very first time.
In the launch tube of a capital starship, my holographic interface came to life. Sparks flew as a massive magnetic catapult warmed up. A countdown: "3, 2, 1." And then, with an incredible sense of speed, I shot out into space. It was everything I'd dreamed after growing up with sci-fi shows like "Babylon 5" and "Battlestar Galactica."
Valkyrie is almost all online multiplayer dogfights, so don't expect a lot of variety -- but the raw sensation of space dogfighting is so strong that I keep coming back. On the Oculus Rift, it was sometimes tough to find a full team of skilled players, but the PSVR version will hopefully change that. On day one, it'll let you play with friends on Oculus too.
"You are a space beetle screaming towards an insane giant head from the future." If this trailer doesn't convince you, I don't think anything I say will help.
Seriously, though: The game looks and plays exactly like the video, except it's all around you. It's not quite as insanely difficult as it looks, because VR gives you enough depth perception to see those hellish musical obstacles coming, and react in time.
Thumper gives me a high like few games have in recent years. It's one of those games where you'll want "just one more try," and one where friends and family will ask for a turn. For $20, it's a no-brainer.
Until Dawn: Rush of Blood
$20, £16, AU$25
And speaking of $20 no-brainer purchases -- if you buy a PlayStation VR headset, you must try Until Dawn: Rush of Blood.
You've never played a horror game until you've played one in VR, because you can't look away. (If you look away, you might see something even more horrific.) But building a good VR horror game can be hard, because letting you freely explore a creepy mansion could make you sick to your stomach without the right controls.
Rush of Blood has a simple solution: You're on a slow-moving roller coaster, shooting at targets (and scarier things) that you can only see in the beams of your unreliable flashlights. The optional PlayStation Move motion controllers make for some excellent two-handed gunplay -- it rivals the best I've had in arcades -- while a set of increasingly intense levels ratchet up the scares.
Branching paths, hidden secrets, advanced difficulty levels and online leaderboards give it plenty of replay value for your $20. I beat the game and liked it so much, I plan to beat it again.
$60, £50, AU$90
Battlezone won't be for everyone. Piloting a vehicle can be a little jarring in VR -- not unlike Eve: Valkyrie -- and on normal difficulty, this game is tough as nails. But if you've ever wanted to pilot a virtual hover tank against an army of deadly AIs in a flush, neon, Tron-like computer world, Battlezone is fantastic fun.
Unlike the original '80s arcade game, this Battlezone is surprisingly deep. It mixes smooth, satisfying first-person tank combat (VR peripheral vision means you never get blindsided) and board game-like strategy. You need to carefully choose which sectors you attack, and which upgrades you buy, to turn the tide of battle against an evolving enemy.
Thankfully, you can coordinate your attacks with up to three friends in real-time online multiplayer (with integrated voice chat). I can confirm it makes the game even better.
$30, £25, AU$45
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 amazing environments are all around you. It's like flying through neon code.
I've played several levels now, and they've kept me utterly entranced. I was part of the music, and it was part of me. I'd definitely buy it.
$30, £16, AU$43
Maybe you don't want to shoot things, or maybe you hate music, and that's why the other PlayStation VR titles above don't grab you. Job Simulator is for you. (Job Simulator is for everyone.)
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.
Honorable Mention: Batman Arkham VR
$20, £16, AU$30
I'm glad I tried Batman: Arkham VR. You should, too, especially if you're a huge fan of the Batman game series. (I'd recommend completing Arkham Knight first.) I won't spoil any more.
But I don't know if I'd buy it. You really do feel like you're Batman, complete with a utility belt of gadgets to help you solve a murder mystery, but that mystery is extremely short -- a little over an hour long. But again, definitely worth trying, and an experience you'll want to share. Plus, you can unlock large-as-life animated models of famous Batman characters.
Honorable Mention: Wayward Sky
$20, £15.50, AU$29
I don't have children -- yet. But if I did, Wayward Sky is the PlayStation VR game I'd want to share with them.
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 giant 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 introduction to VR.
What about all the other PlayStation VR games? Why didn't INSERT NAME HERE make the cut? See what we think of every single PSVR launch title in our full gallery below, and read our full review of the PSVR here.